Spin Selling Questions

Using the Spin Selling Questions

It's one thing to know the SPIN Selling model and what the SPIN acronym stands for  it's another thing to actually formulate the questions and use the model.

Here's How to use SPIN Questions

  1. Write down at least three potential problems which the prospect may have and which your products might solve before making a sales call.
  2. Write down some actual Problem Questions that you could ask to uncover each of the potential problems you’ve identified.
  3. Ask yourself what difficulties might arise for each problem. Write down some actual Implication Questions that might get the prospect to see the problem as large and urgent to solve.
  4. Write down three Need Questions for each implication.

Situation Questions

You use a Situation Question to gather background and facts about where the buyer is at.
You do this to get the lay of the land so that you can set the stage to uncover the buyer’s problems.

It’s important to remember that everyone is busy these days and the last thing they need is for you (as a salesperson) to be wasting their time with unnecessary questions.

So, firstly, do your research before the call. 
The internet is a great source of information about the company you are calling on.

Secondly, you need to focus on the key information that you need. 

I was taught to use targeted questions.

Let me give you an example of targeted questioning.

Let’s look at an example of a real estate sales person and see the difference between targeted and un-targeted questions.
I have seen a real estate sales person ask questions like the following:
“Do you have a deposit?
How much does each of you earn a month?
What other loan commitments do you have to pay?
What are your average monthly expenses apart from the loans we just mentioned?”

Now, from the perspective of the real estate sales person what does he want to know?

He wants to know how much these people can afford to pay on a mortgage, right?

Well, he should ask that question and not all the others.

A targeted question would be:
“How much can you afford in monthly repayments on a house?”

The way you formulate targeted questions when you are planning is to look at each question you are going to ask and just ask yourself the question,
“What do I really want to know when I ask this question?”
and then examine whether the answer to this question gives you the information you want.

Examples of SPIN Situation Questions:

  • What process do you use to produce X?
  • Why does your company use this production method?
  • How long does it take you to produce each batch?
  • At what capacity is your plant running?

  • Who is your current supplier of Y?
  • Why did you choose your current supplier for Y?

  • Who’s responsible for X?
  • How much budget do you have assigned to X?
  • Can you tell me your annual spend on X?

  • What equipment are you using now?
  • How long have you had it?
  • Is it purchased or leased?

Sometimes you can just recap what you’ve found so far in your research and ask …Did I get that right?
Could you tell me about your company’s goals in the next 18th months?

Problem Questions

The purpose of Problem Questions is to Reveal a buyer’s Implied Needs and clarify their difficulties or dissatisfactions. And at the same time gain a shared understanding of the problems.
Problem questions provide the raw materials you need to be able to build the rest of the sale.

Remember to uncover several problems before you start asking Implication Questions.
Do this in case one of the problems turns out to be a dead-end.

Examples of SPIN Problem Questions:

  • Are you satisfied with your current process for manufacturing X?
  • Is any part of the process slower than you’d like?
  • Does this process ever fail?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of the way you’re doing it now?

  • Are you happy with your current supplier?
  • How often does your supplier run out of stock?
  • How much time of your day do you spend dealing with supply issues?”

  • How reliable is your equipment?
  • When you have breakdowns, is it typically easy to figure out what went wrong?
  • When your equipment breaks down, how long does it typically take to get it running again?
  • What’s the biggest hurdle you’re facing right now with your equipment?

Is it hard to recruit skilled people 

How difficult is it to process orders with your present system?

Have you ever looked into fixing this problem?
If yes, get the full scope of the problem, their attempted solution, and their budget, then skip to Need/payoff

It's also important to vary the sort of problem questions you ask.
Remember: Where, When, Who, How often and What happens if?

You can even ask about difficulties indirectly:

  • How long does it take for your IT company to respond when you have problems?
  • Where is the bottleneck in your process?
  • Who usually deals with that problem?
  • How satisfied are you with …?

Implication Questions

Implication questions ask about consequences of the problems.
And help you raise the seriousness of an issue to motivate the prospect to take action
They help transform problems into Explicit Needs

Examples of SPIN Implication Questions:
  • What’s the productivity cost of doing X that way?
  • Has the bottleneck in production slowed output down to the point customer deliveries were late, and has that cost you business?
  • How has the increased workload from the downtime of that machine affected absenteeism among your employees?

  • If you can’t get supplies of X, what’s the impact on …?
  • When was the last time your supplier delayed delivery?

  • Are you experiencing high turnover and training costs because of he
  • difficulty that your employees are having in operating your equipment?
  • Would saving downtime make a significant difference to meeting your production deadlines?
  • Has a problem with your equipment ever negatively impacted your KPIs?
  • Does your overtime expense increase when your equipment goes down?

What could you accomplish with an extra 4 hours every week?

Would your customers be more loyal if you didn’t experience occasional delivery problems?

So, if you already know the implications of a problem, go ahead and state an implication.
Then, pass it back to them with an open-ended question that lets them add more feedback like:

  • “Has that come up for you before?”
  • “How does that problem affect morale/sales/turnover?”

Need-Payoff Questions

A Needs-Payoff question asks about the value of a solution.
And value drives sales.

Be careful -- Need-Payoff questions can backfire.
If they’re too obvious, you might come across as condescending.
Try to reframe the solution in a way the buyer hasn’t previously considered.

For example, rather than asking, 

  • “Would your company benefit in saving money?”, you could ask, 
  • “Would redirecting $1,000 per week from your content creation budget and putting it into Facebook advertising drive significant traffic toward your blog?”

Examples of SPIN Needs-Payoff Questions:

  • What other tasks would your staff be able to undertake if we were able to alleviate that production bottleneck?
  • If we could shorten your manufacturing cycle by 8 hours how would that effect your delivery lead times?
  • How do you feel a faster process will help you?

  • Would it help if we kept stocks of this product at your site?
  • Do you think solving [problem] would significantly impact you in Y way?
  • Why is being able to have stock readily available  important to you?

  • Would having a self diagnosing machine make it easier to get back on-line and meet production schedules?
  • Would it help if new equipment could reduce your employee turnover?
  • You said new equipment would be really useful, Useful in reducing your turnover costs, or is there something else?
  • If you could cut the amount of expense to keep the plant running, what impact would that have?

If you could easily see the variation in your monthly production costs, how would that help you reschedule for better cost efficiency ?

“How do you feel a more organised system would help you?”

  • Is there any other way that our product could help you?
  • Do you think solving this problem would help achieve your sales goals?
  • How would it help if all your offices were connected to a centralised database?
  • Would your sales team find value in this automation tool?

Wrap Up

The SPIN Selling Model is a very useful one and like any model it requires practice and planning to implement it well.

Use these questions and comments to help you plan your questions.
Practice them and then use them with your prospects.

What Next ?

Go to a webpage summary
of the book
Question Based Selling

"The Secrets of
Question Based Selling"

Did you know they overlooked some things in their SPIN research?
Want to know what?

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