Book SPIN Selling - Neil Rackham

SPIN Selling - Neil Rackham

Learn a powerful question-based sales method that will leverage your results! Through the SPIN Selling strategy you spend less time and effort to sell, start being productive now!

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Necessity is what motivates a consumer to buy something. The problem is that, often, the customer does not have the perception that needs that product or service. Neil Rackham teaches in the book “SPIN Selling” how to create this necessity feeling in your clients, achieving better results in sales!

The questions you ask when you are going to offer a product are important. And that’s what the SPIN selling strategy is about, a step by step question which will add value to your product and consequently persuade your customer to buy.

If you want to understand this powerful sales process that is based on four types of questions that greatly increase the chance of success in the sale, this book is essential for you. Stay with us in this book summary!

The book “SPIN Selling”

Originally published in 1988, this book brings the results of the research on effective sales performance, made by Huthwaite (organization founded by the author, Neil Rackham).

During the report, Rackham explains how he built the SPIN Selling sales strategy, which is developed over the 216 pages of the book, divided into 8 chapters.

Who is Neil Rackham?

Neil Rackham is a British-born author, academic, and consultant.

He is considered one of the founders of modern sales theory. Rackham is founder of Huthwaite, a company that does consulting, research and behavior change training for the best sales organizations in the world.

In addition, he has more than 50 articles published and several books translated into 12 languages.

Why should I read “SPIN Selling”?

The content of this book is essential for any modern salesperson who wants to improve his numbers and beat his goals.

The practices suggested by the author may also be useful for managers of sales teams, as well as decision makers who need to deal constantly with salespeople.

What can I learn from “SPIN Selling”?

  • The quality of the asked questions is crucial to the success of the negotiation;
  • Searching for the customer before the contact is essential for a sale;
  • Questions are the best way to convince someone;
  • The SPIN strategy.

“SPIN” is an acronym for four types of questions that can turn a disinterested person into a potential customer. They are:

  • Situation Questions;
  • Problem Questions;
  • Implication Questions;
  • Need-Payoff Questions.

In this review, we will explain each type of question and show some examples.

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[Book Summary] SPIN Selling - Neil Rackham

Situation Questions

The first type of question that the author Neil Rackham highlights is the “situation questions”. They are responsible for starting the conversation and serve as a way for sellers to understand the context of the negotiation.

According to research conducted by the author, these questions are overused by inexperienced sellers as they are easier to formulate.

The study also found that this type of question is not directly related to success.

However, Rackham explains that this does not mean that situational questions should not be used. The secret is in researching the client before making the contact.

With this information, fewer questions can be asked but are more effective and well targeted.

Let's look at some examples of situation questions:

  • How do you manage your contact with customers today?
  • How do you track the performance of your salespeople?
  • What is your annual sales volume?
  • How long has this unit been in operation?

Problem Questions

Next, the author explains about the “problem questions”. They are related to the investigation of problems, difficulties or dissatisfaction of the clients.

We know that a customer seeks a sale when he identifies a need. However, he is not always aware of this necessity, and this is what the author calls “implicit necessity”.

And that is where problem questions come in: they are used to induce the person concerned to declare an implicit need.

In the book “SPIN Selling”, Rackham explains that the research results showed the relationship of this type of question with the negotiation success.

Often, it helps the client identify a problem that was being overlooked.

Take a look at some examples of problem questions:

  • Are you satisfied with your customer relationship management (CRM) system?
  • Is your current machine reliable?
  • Do you find your current system difficult to use?
  • Do you have quality problems?

Implication Questions

The next step in the SPIN sequence are the so-called “implication questions”. At this point, the customer is already aware of his needs.

Therefore, the purpose of these types of questions is to stimulate the customer to desire the solution you are offering, initiating the process of implicit need transforming into explicit need.

The author uses an example to explain the importance of this type of question: let's say your car is getting a bit old, but it doesn't even go through your mind to switch to a new one at the moment.

So, talking to a friend who understands more about cars, he would ask you several questions of implication, which make you realize that the problems of your car are a lot more costly than you thought.

At the end of the conversation you are convinced that you need a new car. What happened was that the implication questions served to aggravate your implicit needs in the decision.

In this part of the book, Neil Rackham explains an important perception: that technical professionals can be great salespeople, because their knowledge allows them to ask good questions of implication.

This type of question has a positive relation to the success in sales, mainly in bigger sales. This is because they serve to build customer perception of value.

As an example of implication questions, we have:

  • What kind of effect does this have on your sales?
  • Could this problem lead to increased costs?
  • Do you believe that this will delay the expansion?

Need-Payoff Questions

In the last stage of the SPIN strategy, the author talks about the “need-payoff questions”. They finalize the process of implicit need transforming into explicit necessity, begun in the previous phase.

Basically, your role is to build the value of the solution presented to the customer.

According to Rackham, the beauty of this type of question lies in the customer's own description of how his solution will solve the problem he is facing.

For this, they evoke positive emotions. After all, we all like it when a problem is solved, isn’t it?

In addition, this tactic serves to avoid the possible objections that the client could make, since they increase the acceptance of their solution.

Let's look at some examples:

  • How could this help you?
  • What are the benefits of this?
  • Why do you think it is essential to solve this problem?

Books about sales

In the book “Selling 101”, Zig Ziglar says that conducting a needs analysis requires you to ask questions and suggest you come up with questions that will elucidate the client's feelings, thoughts, and emotions.

For the author of “The Psychology of Selling”, Brian Tracy, successful people enhance their inner dialogue with optimistic and confident phrases. For example, if you repeat the phrase “I like myself” throughout the day, your self-esteem will certainly increase.

Finally, Jeffrey Gitomer in “The Sales Bible” leaves his message: be honestwith customers. If you want to help them, the feeling will be reciprocal, as this helps the process of creating trust and even fidelity to their service.

How can I apply the ideas from “SPIN Selling”?

The sales process developed by the author has the advantage of being easily applicable, here are some tips:

  • Incorporate one stage of the SPIN strategy at a time, only advance when you feel confidence that you have absorbed the lessons from the previous part;
  • Neil Rackham recommends that you experience the behavior at least three times before analyzing the results;
  • Do your experiments in low-risk situations.

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Book SPIN Selling -  Neil Rackham