SPIN Selling: 4 Powerful Types of B2B Sales Questions

SPIN Selling: 4 Powerful Types of B2B Sales Questions

One of the classic sales books is SPIN Selling. The book presents a unique sales strategy, referred to as SPIN. The SPIN strategy has been developed from research conducted by author Neil Rackham, from studies of 35,000 sales calls over the span of 12 years.

This blog will provide you with a brief outline of the SPIN Selling strategy, designed to help boost your sales success by asking the right types of questions. Below you will find a breakdown of the SPIN acronym and a brief explanation of each question type.

1. Situation Questions

Situation questions are designed to collect facts, information, and background data about the customer’s existing situation. Research showed that successful sellers ask fewer situation questions than their unsuccessful counterparts. Additionally, it was found that the more senior the buyer, the less they like answering factual questions.

Neil cautions however that the findings do not indicate to stop asking situational questions, but rather to stop asking unnecessary situational questions. It is important that sellers take the time to research easily available situational information as part of their pre-call planning to reduce the number of situational questions that need to be asked. If you’re looking to boost your research prowess, be sure to give our Improving Your B2B Sales Research blog a read.

2. Problem Questions

Problem questions are meant to probe for problems, difficulties, or dissatisfactions and encourage the customer to state implied needs. Neil explains that the use of problem questions require planning and recommends working backwards from the problems your offerings can solve to generate these questions. Using problem questions were found to be more successful when working with smaller sales, but were less effective for larger sales.

3. Implication Questions

Implication questions discuss the effects or consequences of the problem before discussing your solutions. The goal of implication questions is to develop the size and seriousness of the problem in the customer’s mind in order to increase the customer’s motivation to buy. Implications were found to be especially powerful in selling to decision makers. When the decision maker views the pain of the problem as greater than the cost of the solution they are more inclined to make a purchase.

4. Need-Payoff Questions

Need-payoff questions encourage the buyer to focus on solutions and to describe the benefits that the solution would bring. Need-payoff questions are questions in the sales process that ask about the value, importance or usefulness of the solutions. Need-payoff questions are particularly powerful selling tools in the larger sales because they also increase the acceptability of your solution are one of the best ways to rehearse the customer in presenting your solutions convincingly to other decision makers.

The best way to summarize what SPIN Selling is about is to say it is all about helping sellers ask the right questions instead of making statements. If you want to boost your sales success try examining how you can turn your unique selling proposition into a set of questions that can help your prospect see the value of your solutions.

If you enjoyed learning about these different types of questions and want to learn more sales and marketing tips, download our free white papers.

This blog post was originally written by Marc DeAmorim and was posted on January 10, 2013. The content has since been updated.

SPIN Selling: 4 Powerful Types of B2B Sales Questions