"Don't trust what top performers tell you," says Neil Rackham in the introduction to his book Spin Selling. This might be to safeguard their "secret sauce" and keep their competitive advantage.
But, according to Rackham, it isn't the case. He and his team have spent substantial time putting together the genuine causes and all of the true facts we need to consider.
He has condensed top performers' experience into a technique we can use to improve our sales: SPIN Selling.
He has spent time studying high performers and has distilled their expertise into a methodology we can all use to improve our sales.
Join us for the next 10 minutes to learn more about that technique and how to use it effectively.
Lesson 1: A Sales Call in Four Stages
The four stages of every successful sales call may be deconstructed.
Stage 1: The Preliminaries—The Warming Up Events at the Start of the Call
There is no better approach to start a sales call, according to Rackham.
According to conventional thinking, if we can somehow tap into a buyer's personal interest, we can build a relationship faster, and the call will be more effective. If there's a family portrait on the desk, speak about the family. And if there's a golfing trophy on the desk, talk about golf.
However, all of this is conventional wisdom. It could have worked 10 years ago when the globe was less linked and people purchased from individuals they loved (or knew).
This is far from reality in today's linked and dispersed society.
When a major sale involves multiple interrelated talks and evaluations of your product or service, many of which take place while you are not there, the situation becomes even worse.
It's difficult to be loved or recognized by everyone in that circle. "I like [insert your name here], but I buy from his competitors since they are cheaper," we are more likely to hear nowadays.
Alternatively, we might start with a benefit statement like this: "Better performance is a significant concern in your market today, Sir, and our solution can tenfold that!" Once again, common knowledge prevails, but it is ineffective.
By focusing on our interpretation of the buyer's demands right away, we risk alienating them and causing them to throw up obstacles. Who are you to say what they require? Who are you to make an uninvited suggestion?
Preliminaries, while necessary to break the ice, are not as important in a successful major sale, according to Rackham.
Instead, he proposes that we concentrate on how long the preliminary examinations take. If it's too short, we'll come off as pushy and obnoxious; the customer will become bored and disengaged if it's too long. As a result, timing is crucial, and time is limited.
Rackham recommends erring on the short side as a rule of thumb: no one has ever complained that a salesperson didn't waste their time! Get in there, concentrate on your goals, and move on to the more essential stage of the investigation.
Stage 2: Investigating—Where SPIN Begins
To elicit information, use open-ended inquiries. That piece of wisdom has been given to us all. Questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no should be avoided. Organize your questions in such a way that they urge you to describe them.
Take a page from Inspector Columbo's book and start asking questions and looking into things. This is, in essence, the heart of SPIN Selling... but it isn't free of structure.
Rackham's investigation approach is divided into four categories: situation, problem, implication, and need-payoff (or SPIN).
The goal of Situation Questions is to establish facts. Obtaining information about the customer's position and what they are doing today. If we are to advance our opportunity, we must do so.
It's a binary situation for a tiny transaction; there are only two stages: sale or no sale. There are two additional intermediate phases for a larger sale: Continuation and Advance.
The authorization to keep talking is essentially granted at the continuation stage. We may not be going quickly, but at least we're moving ahead, and the conversation isn't coming to an end. The Advance stage is a lot more upbeat. It's a signal to "tell me more."
As a result, the more effective situation inquiries we ask, the more successful our contact with the customer will be, and the higher our chances of getting ahead. Situational inquiries elicit responses from the buyer. Situation questions help to keep people's attention, detect requirements, and provide hints.
However, as Rackham points out, situational questions convince, whereas arguments do not.
When we see a buyer's interest in their response, we should refrain from explaining why our items fit their demands. There's still more to be gained.
The second component of SPIN is problem identification. A potential buyer who is completely pleased with the current situation will not feel compelled to alter. There is a probability of a sale only when that degree of satisfaction decreases to 99.99 percent.
We need to figure out where there could be an issue and then determine whether or not there is a demand as a result of that problem.
It might begin as a minor difficulty with the product or procedure, progress to clear dissatisfaction, and eventually turn into a wish, want, or desire to take action.
Each of these phases amplifies the problem and raises the demand. This stage's goal is to ask questions to identify the problem and develop its perspective to the point where it can be addressed. The first step is to identify the problem. There is no reason to buy without a clear explanation of the necessity.
Implication is the third component of SPIN.
Implied and explicit needs are the two sorts of needs. We found more complaints in the first category. For example, "Our existing systems don't do X" or "I'm not pleased with our product failure rate."
There is an issue with inferred needs, but no genuine solution has been identified.
The SPIN seller seems unconcerned with this. Indeed, discovering the weakness in the armor that our product or service can fill is the key to breaking down 100 percent happiness and identifying the chink in the armor that our product or service can fill.
Implication questions are required. Implication questions raise the buyer's awareness of the problem's severity. Implication questions push the scales away from the current quo and toward a new, problem-free situation.
According to Rackham's study, decision-makers are more likely to respond positively to a salesman who uncovers implications. In essence, we are assisting them in seeing beyond the present to a brighter future.
However, there is a disadvantage. Too many implications raised by the seller might make the buyer feel gloomy. If we exacerbate issues, we must provide a route out, the fourth part of SPIN: Need-Payoff.
Need-Payoff. Things are a little more open-ended when it comes to implications. Explicit needs, on the other hand, are more specified. "We require a quicker system" and "Back-up capacity is required."
These specific requirements guide us, the vendor, and the customer in the same direction in terms of issue solving and sale. An excellent salesperson, according to Rackham, thrives in this area. They detect and make the invisible concrete when they hear indicated needs. They transform the implicit into the explicit.
Essentially, need-payoff questions increase the solution's worth or utility. Need-payoff questions direct the buyer's attention to issues and solutions rather than challenges and problems.
Good need questions entice the buyer to personalize the solution's advantages, and personalization leads to adoption.
We effectively position the customer as the "expert" by asking them to verbalize their thoughts...and everyone loves to be considered an expert! This, too, subtly encourages the customer to make a favorable conclusion; after all, wasn't it their idea?
However, as Rackham points out, many talks about the feasibility of our product or service take place without us there. We connect dialogue to the buyer's perspective - their requirements and business – rather than our product. This sustains the need when we are not present by focusing on needs when we are present.
Stage 3: Demonstrating Capability
In many sales interactions, the capability is proven by educating the customer about the product or service's characteristics and advantages.
However, according to Rackham, it is preferable to concentrate on the benefits. So, what's the distinction? Facts, statistics, and product qualities are referred to as features. They're just assertions that could be useful in a small transaction but are basically useless in larger ones.
Advantages demonstrate how a product or service (or one of its qualities) may benefit a consumer. These are uplifting, but more so in modest transactions than in bigger ones. Benefits, on the other hand, demonstrate how products or services satisfy specific consumer demands.
Objections are a big roadblock that may still exist at this point in the sales process. If we do come across them, it means we did poorly in the previous stages.
Rather than focusing on objection management, which is a common emphasis of other sales training programs, Rackham suggests that we concentrate on objection prevention. Returning to the need-payoff questions. The majority of criticisms are directed at solutions that do not meet the requirements.
The answer is simple: don't talk about solutions until you've asked enough questions about needs. If the objections are based on cost, then there is a flaw in aligning the needs. Money will be saved if the solution adequately solves a demand that the customer perceives as important.
So the key to demonstrating capability is to make sure the buyer understands the benefits and envisions how they may be implemented in their company. Again, it's all about personalization: putting your solution at the forefront of your buyer's mind.
Stage 4: Obtaining Commitment
The voyage is almost complete. We still have three activities to do.
The first step is to double-check that we've covered all of the important points. Both the product and the client demands are likely to be complex in larger transactions. As the customer approaches commitment, there may be regions of confusion or doubt in their mind.
Successful sellers take the initiative and inquire if any further issues need to be solved. If there aren't any, then you're one step closer to making a purchase.
The following step is to summarize the advantages. The buyer is unlikely to have a complete understanding of all that has been stated.
Before committing, successful salespeople tie the threads together by summarizing significant aspects of the dialogue. Finally, we must make a commitment proposal. Do not make a request for a menu. That does not imply a commitment. It isn't how effective salespeople operate.
A sale is advanced by successful salespeople. The sale will move forward in some form as a result of the agreement. (Do you recall the various conversations?)
The commitment is the most practical promise they can make. Successful sellers don't go any further than this. If a commitment is an order, well done; nonetheless, one step closer is better than none.