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SPIN Selling Summary

Here’s the SPIN Selling summary. It’s a customer-oriented approach that works well with large accounts. Learn how to achieve more sales through the SPIN method.


SPIN Selling author Neil Rackham explains why common closing techniques fail in large accounts and sales volume. He introduces a new strategy that deliver more results.

SPIN stands for Situation, Problem, Implication, and Need-payoff. You should design questions for each area. This way you’ll build more knowledge and connect deeply with your customer.

About the Author

Neil Rackham has conducted the largest study of professional selling. He analyzed over 35,000 sales calls. He then determined how the successful ones got great results. He distilled them into his SPIN Selling book. He provided quantitative insights that show how successful sales came to be.

He has experience working with huge corporations such as IBM, AT&T, Citicorp, and other Fortune 100 companies. Aside from SPIN Selling, he also wrote Major Account Sales Strategy, Rethinking the Sales Force, and Getting Partnering Right.

Main takeaways: SPIN Selling Summary

Let’s discuss the key takeaways from his book:

  1. Start with the situation and figure out the problem.
  2. Make the customer become aware of the problem.
  3. Guide the customer to come up with the best solution.

Start with the situation and figure out the problem

This is basic. Start with what the situation is. Know the figures. Know what are the company’s concerns. Then you should figure out their problem.

If you understand their problem, you become more equipped. You can then reframe your questions and statements. You can align what you say with your customers’ problems.

Start with where they are right now. Do it before you take them where you want them to go. Listen first. Know as much as you can without being annoying.

The purpose of this is to warm up. It also prevents you from appearing arrogant. Customers don’t like suggestions if you can’t relate to them in the first place.

Make the customer become aware of the problem

Before customers accept the solution, they must be aware of the problem first. They should acknowledge the problem before they become ready to listen to your solution.

One way to help customers acknowledge the problem is by asking intelligent questions. You can start with time and financial costs of their problems. You can also ask them about the missed opportunities.

This way they will realize that the problems are worse than expected. They’ll realize that there’s so much money wasted because of a few overlooked issues.

Once they become aware of the problems, they’ll become more eager for a solution. It creates a sense of urgency. They want their problems solved. And that’s where you come in.

Guide the customer to come up with the best solution

You’ve understood their situation. They’ve realized that overlooked problems are much worse than expected. They are now starting to realize how valuable a solution would be.

That’s where you come in. You ask questions that guide them towards your offer. You make them realize how valuable your offer is. You ask them questions what your offer will do to completely solve their problems.

The good thing here is you allow the customer to imagine having your product. They’ll realize themselves the benefits of using your offer. They will feel good because finally they have a solution waiting for them.

You start with Situation and Problem questions so you better understand your customer. Then you move to the Implication (make the customers become aware of some problems) and Need-payoff (you make them realize how your product benefits them) questions.

Aside from the SPIN Selling method, you’ll also learn the following from Neil Rackham’s book:

  • Why closing techniques don’t work in large accounts
  • Why most of the selling happens without you
  • How to let your customer sell to their peers
  • Why the approach of engineers solving a problem is effective in selling
  • How to ask the right questions so people become more eager to buy from you

My personal takeaways

Some of the tips are common. And some are counterintuitive. However, it’s all based on research. The principles laid out in SPIN Selling are what works in the real world.

First you have to understand the situation and problem. Then point out other problems that might have been overlooked. Next is you point out the additional costs of those problems. Finally you make people realize how valuable your solution would be.

If your customers are aware of the problems and opportunities, you make them your allies. In large accounts, a group of people will often decide not just one person. They become your allies because they can represent you. They’ll talk favorably about your product even if you’re not there.

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