Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why Spin Selling is Important in this Economic Downturn

This is actually an older post that has been renamed. I am experimenting to see if the title change will increase the interest in the article. The idea for this was expressed in my post How to make sure your blog posts get read. If you have read this post I am not trying to spam...this is a real experiment. If you haven't read this post before read it and comment if you think it is helpful. The former title of this post was Implied, Explicit Needs and the Economic Downturn.

Original Post:
In re-reading a portion of the book SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham, it dawned on me that SPIN selling is even more important in this economic downturn. The book speaks mostly of the large sale, i.e., the large B2B sale. The thrust of the book then is aimed at the large sale and concessions are offered to suggest that with the smaller sale, SPIN selling is not so important. He makes the distinction between implied needs and explicit needs and concedes that in the smaller sale implied needs may be enough to close a sale. He uses an illustration example of a scale with a large price tag, $120.000.00 on the one side and a few implied needs on the other to show that the large price outweighs the implied needs.

It dawned on me that during times of economic downturn, implied needs are not effective even in the smaller sales. For this reason it would benefit B2B sales people and businesses to review chapters three, four and five of Rackham’s book. Chapter three explains the idea of needs and differentiates between implied needs and explicit needs. He defines implied needs as statements by the prospect that identifies problems, difficulties and dissatisfactions and explicit needs as wants or desires for a specific solution to the problem. In other words, just because you can identify a problem does not necessarily insure that you have a prospect that is convinced that he or she or their company needs a solution, especially when the solution is going to cost money that is limited.

In fact, it is only when the prospect is convinced of an explicit need that a sale can advance. The entire SPIN selling process is designed to identify implied needs and, through questioning, develop awareness of explicit needs that will justify spending money to solve a problem that is a real problem with revenue consequences. There is not a better way that I know of to do this.

Here is a recap of the SPIN selling system. SPIN is an acronym that, as I wrote in my last blog post, stands for four types of questions used in the inquiry or investigation stage of the selling process. They are as follows:
• Situation Questions; questions that find out basic information
• Problem Questions; questions that identify problems
• Implication Questions; questions that identify the implications of the problems
• Needs/Payoff Questions; questions that help explicitly define problems needing solutions.
During the economic downturn especially, prospects do not have the time or the patience to answer a bunch of situation questions so keep them at a minimum. The problem questions will help you identify the problems that you want to be able to solve with your goods or services. So then, the main focus should be placed on the Implication and Needs/Payoff questions. I would strongly suggest that, if you do not have one, get a copy of Neil Rackham’s book SPIN Selling and focus at the very least on chapters three four and five. You may find that it offers a lot of help in this particular economic time period.

I would appreciate feedback on my articles. Please feel free to leave comments on my blog. I will read them and take them to heart. It can also create an important dialog that will benefit all of the readers.


  1. I absolutely agree with you that SPIN is more relevant than ever!!

    Although the tools have changed over time, the fundamentals of how and why people buy are the same. Having said that, customers are seeking to have a more open dialog with the person they are dealing with, which is counter intuitive in an economy that has less patience.

    All this would mean is that sales people need to walk into a customer meeting with confidence that they can help the customer get to where they need to go.

    As a result, I have put together a presentation that I would hope your customers will enjoy. I had the pleasure of working with the Chasm Group led by Geoffrey Moore.

    Here's the link, I hope to meet with you one day and exchange ideas!

    Keep up the great work!

    Satoshi Takano

  2. Customers are more in control and less reliant on sales to help find solutions for their problems. A sales person has less creditability than a referral or industry expert. SPIN may be valid in pulling out the information in a face to face call. But the data that can be captured ahead of time can change the relationship from I'm here to sell you something to I'm here to solve your problem.

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