Do You Use Spin Selling in Your Business?
The concept of Spin Selling has been around since 1987, when Neil Rackham first published his well-researched book “Spin Selling“ on this topic. I believe that the methods described in Neil Rackham’s book still offer great benefits and I am writing about it here for SME business owners that have yet to hear about Spin Selling, and hope they might use this knowledge in their businesses.
The easiest way to explain the sales model is with a diagram, which I have crafted from the original data in the book. I have split the model into two different halves. The top half looks at the typical high-level stages in a sales call. A sales person starts with the preliminaries, wherein trust is established and the sales person seeks permission to move to the next stage.
Next comes the investigative phase, wherein the sales person goes through a series of different question types in sequence. The most effective way to do this is highlighted in the workflow in the bottom half of the diagram. The workflow demonstrates the reasoning behind each question set and the expected results, and the entire sequence moves the buyer closer and closer to a Yes decision.
Then comes the stage where the sales person clearly demonstrates the capability of the seller in meeting the buyer’s explicit needs.
Finally, the seller enters the stage wherein confirmation is sought that all concerns have been put to bed, commitment is obtained, and the sale may be successfully closed.
One of the features of this model is the fact that there are really only two outcomes of a sales meeting. Firstly there is an Order Advance, which is a green light and the receipt of an order. The second outcome is a continuation or no sale. A continuation, or lack of a clear decision, is considered to be a red light because there is no concrete sign that the sale has moved forward. There is no amber light in this model and so positive noises don’t count – only actions do.
Some interesting observations flowing from Neil Rackham’s detailed research:
- If you put pressure on a potential customer, then they won’t want to meet you again.
- Customers rarely object to questions – unless you have found a particularly offensive way to ask them. Most objections are to solutions which don’t fit needs.
- Using open and closed questions may work in small sales but they won’t work in bigger sales.
- Closing techniques, which work in small accounts, will actually lose you business as the sale grows larger.
- The most successful sellers concentrate on objection prevention and not on objection handling.
- You may believe that a benefit shows how a feature can be used to help a customer, but this normally only works in a small sale and rarely works in a large one.
- Multi-call sales have a completely different psychology from single-call sales.
- As the size of a sale increases, successful sales people must build up the perceived value of what they are selling.
- Emotional factors can play a key part in both large and small sales, but be careful about using emotional triggers if there are multiple decision makers involved in the purchase decision.
- As the sale grows in size, rational elements become increasingly important.
- If the seriousness of the problem outweighs the cost of solving it, then there is a basis for a successful sale.
- Implied needs are simply problems that exist. These implied needs have to be turned into explicit needs, which make the buyer feel the problem more acutely, before a buy decision will be made.
- As the sale grows larger, it becomes increasingly important to discover explicit needs and not just implied needs.
- With larger sales, it is more difficult to separate the product from the seller and the likelihood and desirability of an ongoing relationship with the seller becomes an important part of the buyer’s decision.
- Larger decisions are more public and a bad decision is much more visible.
- By using need payoff questions, you can get the customer to explain to you which elements of the problem your solution can solve.
- In really big sales, the sales person only plays a small part in the selling and the real selling takes place when the sales person is not there and the person you sold to tries to convince colleagues or superiors to support the proposal.
Spin Selling is published by Gower Publishing Limited and costs about $7 plus shipping costs. It’s well worth reading in my view.