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Sales Eye - SPIN your way to higher sales (Nov 1st, 2004)



Spin your way to higher sales

1st November 2004


As we saw during our last article, the art of asking questions is one of the most important skills a salesperson can have.


A sales meeting should look similar to a ping-pong game, with good questions and answers being bounced back and forth between sales rep and client. Unfortunately, most sales calls seem to be very one-sided, with the sales rep monopolizing the meeting with a boring monologue about why their company or service is the best.


The SPIN(r) technique, developed by the Huthwiate Organization after extensive sales interview research conducted in almost 30 different countries, is an ideal solution for controlling the process of a sales meeting. First of all, it allows sales reps to 'guide the customer.' Secondly, it creates a harmonious atmosphere in the meeting. This technique is based on asking the right, well thought-out questions in a specific order. It also goes hand-in-hand with some basics of selling such as highlighting features, advantages and benefits.


Situation questions

These are questions designed to understand the client's business situation and operating context. If the company is well known, like UPS, you won't need to be asking simple questions about what their products or services are, but often you will be meeting an unknown company about which you don't have a clue as to what they do. Open-ended situation questions asked early-on in the meeting help build a positive climate of your 'ping-pong' with the customer. "Tell me about how your products are distributed?" "What does your organizational structure look like?" "How did your firm get started?" These are some examples of open-ended questions that will create more than one-word yes or no answers and engage the client. Quite simply, if the answer is "yes" or "no," it isn't open-ended. Try a few for practice!


Problem questions

Your plan is to uncover the client's implied needs, so you want to probe for concerns, difficulties and dissatisfaction with their current situation. "Have you ever had delays in supplies?" "Do you have any unique ways to promote your product or brand?" "What are some of the problems you encounter in dealing with companies like ours?" Understanding their problems is the first step in being able to propose a solution-which is what all of us are selling at the end of the day.


Implication questions

Ask about the consequences of the problems that you uncovered in the previous section. They are the most difficult questions to ask, but they have the biggest impact. Implication questions are important because they increase the perceived size of the problem-which justifies a more expensive solution. They help your clients see that, for example, "it is a real problem that your contractor added things to the pre-approved budget." Furthermore, carefully planned and thought-out Implication Questions help you increase your credibility by showing that you speak the language of the senior decision-makers.


Need-Payoff questions

These help you sell your solution. They allow you to explore for the client's explicit needs. Here you clarify the payoff for the client in solving their problems. "Would it help if we were able to deliver once a day instead of once a week?" "Would it be an ideal situation if your Christmas gifts were ready in November?"


The SPIN(r) technique allows you to understand the client's needs and to maximize your company's positives. It is a framework that can guide you through every one of your sales meetings. Take a spin today!


You can learn more about Huthwaite in Poland from their website, This weeks article was prepared with the help of LYNKA's Regional Sales Director Olaf Dąbrowski, who has seven years of sales management experience in leading organizations such as UPS and Lyreco.



From Warsaw Business Journal by John Lynch, Matt Lynch -"The Sales Brothers"