In this article, I will give you a detailed understanding of this simple question “Is SPIN SELLING relevant in 2021”.
Spin selling was one of the first-ever books that I read on sales, and it shaped the beginning of my career in likely thousands and thousands if not hundreds of thousands of other sales professionals careers.
It’s now 33 years old. I was three when this book was published.
Now let me give you some context here because the year that spin selling was published, the average house price in India was Rs 100000. Pubs in the UK were allowed to open during the day for the very first time, and of course, the internet didn’t exist at all, so the world has moved on since spin selling first hit the bookstores.
But should your sales process move on as well, or is spin selling still relevant for the modern B2B salesperson because many traditional sales trainers around the world are still teaching spin selling like it is the absolute gospel?
Like it’s the only thing that exists, and sales managers who were taught spin selling over 20 years ago are still coaching their sales teams on this spin selling process today, so is it all effective? Is it worth using in the modern B2B sales process?
Well, stay tuned because, in this article, I’m going to very briefly explain what spin selling is and if you should be using it today.
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Salespeople crush their quotas, so before we uncover if spin selling is relevant in the internet age, let’s examine the fundamentals of what spin selling actually is now.
Recently Neil Rackham, the founder of spin selling, uncovered the top-performing salespeople usually asked a series of specific questions in a particular order to get deals done, so spin is just an acronym for these questions, and it comes down to
- Need payoff
- Now situation questions are questions designed to uncover our buyers. Need pains and their competitive plans as well. So the questions we could ask, for example, would be:
- Who is responsible for XYZ.
- Why do you do this thing in this particular way?
- And how important is this thing to your business?
- Next up, we have problem questions and problem questions.
- We’re looking for opportunities where we can potentially help the buyer.
- So these questions can be how expensive it is to do one-two-three things.
- Does this process ever fail, and are you happy with whatever supplier you’re with right now? And we’re already halfway through spin selling right now, so now that we’ve got some background information from your situation questions and you’ve found a place that you can help your buyer by using problem questions, it is now time to ask what we call an implication question.
- Implication questions highlight how serious the problem you’ve identified for the buyer is so that we could ask.
- What is the cost of doing it, the way that you’re currently doing it?
- When was the last time, however you’re doing it right now failed?
- And is this issue stopping you from hitting your business goals.
- Next, we’ve got need payoff questions, and these are what pulls spin selling together. It’s what makes it compelling need a pair of questions bait your buy into agreeing that you as a salesperson can help them and the best way to explain a need payoff question is by running through a quick example that includes all of the previous questions.
- As well so let’s say I’m calling on a VP of sales called jerry. I’m selling our bestconsumergoods.com sales accelerator program, so I’d start with a situation question. I’d say is improving the performance of your sales team something important to you. Then jerry turns around and says, yes, this is something that I’ve been thinking a lot about recently.
- So then I’m going to ask a problem question. I’m going to ask what’s holding your team back from their potential right now. Jerry’s gonna say, well well, I don’t think they’ve got a sales process or a sales method to follow.
- Next, I’m gonna ask an implication problem, so I’m gonna say jerry. It sounds like without a sales processor sales method in place well; it’s going to be difficult for your team to scale their sales success. How much do you think this is going to cost you in lost revenue each quarter jerry’s going to say, hmm, I estimate it’s going to cost a good 100 thousand each quarter them that I’m losing because the team doesn’t really know what they’re doing if I’m honest.
- So now, finally, after those three questions are wrapped up, we’re going to ask what’s called a need payoff question. We’re going to bait jerry into agreeing that we can help him, so a need power question in this example could be well if we could teach your team a systematic selling process in the next 42 days using our sales accelerator program do you think that that could substantially drive up your revenue and of course to a question like these following on from the previous questions, jerry pretty much has to say, yes, we’ll you’re my hero take all my money here’s a wheelbarrow full of cash spend it wisely, and that’s what a need payoff question is, and that’s how all these questions fit together.
Now says nation does all of this make sense. I’m going to stop here for a second and say that I feel with spin selling, you do need to be careful with each of these questions because each set of them can sound condescending or even a bit slimy and manipulative you use them in the wrong way.
But without said the big question is, is this process still relevant today? Should you be spin selling, well, the answer is, it depends. First off, I’d say spin selling does work, and it’s a nice framework if you’re brand new to sales.
There are a few changes that I’d suggest if you’re going to implement spin selling in a modern B2B selling strategy:
- First up, you’ve got to look at your situation questions because there’s new data that shows that they are now negatively correlated to sales success, so the more or worse situation questions you ask, the less likely the buyer is going to open up and want to work with you, and this comes from the horse’s mouth, so here’s the author of spin selling Neil Rackham to explain today they’re actively positively negatively correlated that is you ask a lot of situation questions and
The customer will become impatient. They’ll say you should have done your homework. You should have known that because a lot of the things that you found out with the spin model 30 years ago you found out face to face with the customer because there was no other way to do it and look, let’s get real here 90 of the spin selling situation questions.
The answers can be researched online before you even speak to the buyer. The remaining 10 percent of the stuff that you’d want to get from the buyer can be researched by calling up other people within the account, the end-users, so when in finance or procurement, they can give you all of the rest of the information that you need to get the deal done before you even speak to the buyer and on the modern B2B buyer, well they expect you to have you know quote unquote done your homework.
Before you even speak to them, why is this? Are they just being arrogant idiots that don’t want to share their time with us?
Sometimes, but most of the time, I think that you’ve got your buyers that you’re trying to engage with here, right, and there are way more salespeople trying to reach out to them than ever before.
Because you can now sell globally so prospects that you would never reach out to 20 years ago you can directly reach out to comfortably and through the different economic downturns.
Over the years, these individuals are doing more and more and more work, probably for longer hours with less pay than ever before.
So they genuinely are busy connecting to the actual genuine buyers within an account, so let me say this if you’re not going into your sales meetings prepared knowing all this data beforehand, then prepare to have some unsuccessful sales meetings.
And finally, problem questions are less relevant in modern B2B sales now and in most industries.
Well, most products are now super reliable, they’re affordable, and they’re somewhat commoditized; therefore, when you ask a buyer a question like, does this process ever fail 20 years ago, they might have said yeah now and again.
It cost us a ton of revenue. It’s a pain in the ass every time, whereas now the answer is more likely to be no it’s, it’s pretty reliable.
When you get a no at this stage of spin selling, when you ask your problem questions, spin selling stops.
There’s no way to break through this, which is essentially an objection, so what’s the modern way?
What’s the alternative way to ask problem questions? Well, it’s simple to ask your buyer about future problems, not just the present problems, because this is best explained with an analogy.
So imagine you’ve just jumped out of a plane, you’ve fallen to the ground, and you’ve got no parachute. Now after some frantic mid-air googling, there might be 100 salespeople that you could call that might be able to sell you a parachute.
Now, after even more frenzied research, you as the buyer uncovered that there are only ten salespeople that could somehow deliver on this promise of getting a parachute to you before you hit the ground.
Well, mid-air delivery isn’t a bad value proposition for these ten salespeople. They’re probably on to something here because you, as the buyer, fall from the sky. You don’t want to become a flat human smoothie embedded into a random field.
So the value proposition here is pretty strong, but what’s a better value proposition? Well, this comes from the one superstar salesperson who calls you before you jump and tells you that the whole jumping
the thing about parachutes is a dumb idea.
It would help if you weren’t doing it, and so you need to be this salesperson, this high performer who’s asking future problem questions that add some value to the buyers.
Rather than reacting like everyone else is doing, focus on spin selling; Long story short can work, but you need to eliminate Situation questions, and you need to redefine your Problem questions to focus on your buyer’s better future, so there we have it.
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