SPIN SELLING - Neil Rackman

Johan Etsebeth • 26 June 2017

Spin Selling - Neil Rackham


The Best-Validated Sales Method Available Today Developed from Research Studies of 35,000 Sales Calls


Neil Rackham
Publisher: New York : McGraw-Hill, ©1988
ISBN: 0070511136

This is a synopsis only. I recommends you buy the original book.

SPIN Selling is a research validated sales method:

  • 35,000+ sales calls studied, in 27 countries over 10 yrs

  • Designed for larger sales (multiple sales calls + ongoing relationship)

  • Not for small sales (1-off purchase + low value transactions)

  • Ideal for large sales have number of intermediate steps = advances

  • Research shows that in large dollar value sales, the more questions asked, the higher the likelihood of sale

  • There was no statistical difference between the use of open and closed questions


  • Research the customer and industry first – be professional

  • Don’t insult them by asking, “So what do you do?”

  • Research what problems there are they likely to be experiencing

  • Prepare and rehearse your key messages – don’t wing it

  • Pre plan the SPIN questions you will ask

  • Pre-plan how you will overcome any objections you are likely to encounter

  • Get down to business quickly – don’t spend too much time with small talk

  • Don’t talk about your products / solutions too soon – this increases objections – and reduces sales

  • Beware of customers trying to speed you up (“What have you got?”)

  • Say, “Before I show you what I have, there’s a couple of questions I’d like to ask you”

  • Ask SPIN questions

SPIN selling

SPIN Questions

The researched based question sequence of successful sales calls

= Situation

= Problem

= Implication

= Needs - Payoff


Situation Questions

  • Fact finding questions – most salespeople ask these

  • Don’t overuse these or you will bore customer

  • Successful salespeople ask fewer, better targeted situation Q’s

“What are you currently using?”
“How are you finding it?”
“What measures do you use to evaluate successful performance in this area?”

Problem Questions

  • Inexperienced salespeople don’t ask enough of these

“How satisfied are you with your …….?”
“What are the key difficulties are you are experiencing?”
“What could be better?”

Implication Questions

  • The best salespeople spend most of their time asking implication questions

  • Help the customer articulate the implications of their problems

  • Magnify the importance & urgency of changing status quo

“What are the implications of (this problem) for your business?”
“What are the consequences if this isn’t resolved?”

Needs – Payoff Questions

  • The top salespeople ask 10x more of these than average salespeople

  • Gets the customer to tell you the benefits they want – their “explicit needs”

  • Switches customer’s thinking from negative (their pain) to positive (their ideal solution)

  • Reduces the number of objections

  • Only ask these questions once you have built up “implied needs” however

If we could resolve this, how would that be of benefit to you?
Why is it important for you to have …….?


2 different types of Needs:

1. Implied needs

Customer lists their problems & implications

“I’m not getting enough good leads which is squeezing my cash flow”
“I’m feeling overwhelmed with too many tasks to do and not enough time”

2. Explicit needs

Successful sales people develop implied needs into explicit needs

Customer specifies their ideal solution = true buying signal

“If I improve my marketing effectiveness I’ll get more qualified leads”
“If I learn how to prioritise my time better, I’ll feel less stressed”


Closing techniques

  • Closing techniques speed the buying decision in low value sales (<$100)

  • The larger the sale the less effective closing techniques are

  • The more closing techniques used in larger sales = lower % of successful sales

  • With high value sales, increased pressure reduces sales

  • Sophisticated buyers don’t like being manipulated

  • Closing techniques = lower client satisfaction = lower repeat purchases

  • Investigating techniques are more effective than closing techniques

  • You still need to get a commitment – or an advance from customer

  • Advance = specific action by the customer to move sale process forward


The right way to close

  • Features – describe facts / data / product characteristics

  • Benefits – what the product does for the customer

  • Focus on features if low dollar value sale (makes it seem worth more)

  • Focus more on benefits if high dollar value sale

  • Don’t demonstrate your capabilities too early in the sales call – especially with new products – this increases objections

  • Talking about products too soon reduces sales, and increases objections

  • It is a myth that increased objections leads to increased sales

  • Only present features & benefits once explicit needs have been uncovered and expressed by the customer

  • Do not list all the benefits of your product / service – this increases objections

  • Only present the benefits specifically relevant to customer’s stated explicit needs

  • Key = focus on the customer needs – not the product

Successful salespeople:

  • Spend more time building needs in the investigating stage of the sales call

  • Do not use closing techniques to bring objections to the surface

  • Take the initiative to ask buyer if they have any further concerns / objections rather than wait for customer to raise them

  • Summarise the relevant benefits

  • Do not “ask” for the order – they switch to “tell”

  • They propose the next logical step for the customer to take (commitment / advance)

“Here’s what we need to do next……”