This article is Intermediate Level and covers the simple application of SPIN Selling to a sales area. If you want to understand even more about the methodology, go to SPIN Selling – the complete guide.
Nowadays, there are thousands of sales methodologies, some focused on simple sales such as closing and others focused on complex ones, which will be the ones we will talk about here.
There are several methodologies for complex sales, but we will focus in this text on one that we use in the Startups scenario and is quite recurrent in modern Outbound, the SPIN Selling.
The SPIN methodology was created by Neil Rackham, in the largest survey on sales techniques conducted in history, with the analysis of more than 35,000 visits over a 12-year period. What motivated this research was the author’s need to verify what are the necessary steps to make a big sale and to know what an “ideal sale” looks like or what makes a person a natural salesperson (there is always the case of that employee who always hits goal, but not even he can explain how).
For the salesperson with an analytical profile, SPIN Selling proves something quite neglected in Brazilian culture: Selling is also a science, and just like that, it has a whole theory and study behind the proven results in the field.
The core of the Spin are questions of Situation, Problem, Implication and Need for Solution, avoiding as much as possible the use of closing techniques indiscriminately.
But first, we’ll talk a little bit about the history of the emergence of this methodology and you’ll see why it remains current despite having been created a long time ago.
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- SPIN Methodology
Neil Rackham’s company, Huwhaite, had expertise in salesperson behavior analysis, so a VP of sales at a large company hired her to analyze why the business result was falling despite the high investment in training and capacity building.
Seeing an opportunity to analyze an underexplored field, Neil accepted the proposal and analyzed approximately 98 sales visits to see what practices were leading to success in the process.
Two months later, when he met with the VP to present the result, he showed that in fact there was no clear link between the use of closing techniques (which was taught in the training) and success in the process. It was even verified that the result was worse in those who used it the most.
As expected, the reaction at the time to this statement was poor, as it was practically agreed that the success of a sale was linked to the number of closed and open questions that were asked and the good use of closing techniques. As he did not have enough seal to unconditionally support the result of his research and the sample was relatively small, he was forced to realize that it would be necessary to carry out the research at a higher level, with a much larger sample and for a longer time, analyzing various factors to actually check what was the predominant factor in the success of a sales call.
Analyzing 116 factors, for over 12 years in 35 thousand sales transactions, the information that was collected was:
- Closing techniques are extremely effective in simple sales, but as it becomes more expensive and the complexity of the negotiation increases, it loses its success;
- The best salespeople were those who had the greatest exploratory capacity, asked the right questions, and truly understood the customer’s needs, thus knowing how to best close the sale, aligning high markup with a shorter cycle.
From this study, the SPIN methodology emerged. Below we will show the flow change that occurred with its adoption and its importance in a complex sales scenario.
Before talking about the methodology, let’s analyze how the sales process was defined in the past.
- Opening: Time when the seller tries to find some common interest with the Prospect and make the initial benefit statement, to build trust and start presenting the product;
- Investigation: Conducting open-ended and closed-ended questions to understand the buyer’s basic needs;
- Offer benefits: Moment when the seller presents the main features of his product to the buyer, without actually raising which ones were applicable to his performance scenario;
- Objection handling: It was the moment that the seller had to deal with the customer’s objections, always looking for a solution to the problem that arose in the negotiation;
- Closing techniques: A critical point in the process, it was the moment when we tried to create urgency for the Prospect to close a deal, regardless of whether he was qualified enough.
We have to understand that this path is not necessarily wrong, the changes that SPIN introduced were:
- Openness: It is necessary to create value for the Prospect and generate business rapport, showing in fact how that solution can solve his problem;
- Research: Not defined an array of open and closed questions. Firstly, the client’s situation, problems, everyday implications and current needs are raised. Normally, at this stage, it is verified if he has the profile (it is in fact one of his buyer’s personas) and maturity (understands the problem he has and knows how to solve it) to acquire your solution;
- Benefits: According to everything raised in the last step, benefits are offered for the customer scenario, instead of a standard offer (or shelf template ), which applies in any market. That is, the speech is already directed according to the needs raised in the Investigation;
- Objection Handling: Unlike the old process, the current salesperson must avoid objections by studying the customer’s needs and directing his speech to solve the customer’s problem generating ROI, not just cost. In this way, it reduces possible obstacles, as, throughout the process, it seeks to build a win-win discourse;
- Closing techniques: They are avoided, used only at the time of closing the deal, when the customer already shows his purchase option, understands the problem or opportunity he has and the solution offered.
We saw that the flow of the process itself did not change, the change was only in the way it was conducted. If before, the focus was just to close the deal faster, nowadays, with the adoption of this methodology, we find that in a scenario of complex sales it is necessary to really understand what Prospect’s scenario is, from its situation and how it actually is you will solve his problem.
The best way to understand the scenario is to ask the right questions and ask them early on in your Outbound process, starting with Prospector and being used in greater depth by SDR.
What methodology do you use in your company?