12 Feb Use This One Technique to Improve Your Sales Pipeline
If you’re a freelancer or running your own company, becoming competent (or good, even) at selling is something that can be crucial to growing your business. However, making sales calls can be pretty intimidating – and sometimes ineffective – when you haven’t had formal sales training. Also, selling is an especially difficult skill to improve at when it’s not something you do on a regular basis. Like many things.
In today’s post I am going to discuss an extremely effective sales methodology called SPIN. This will provide you with a framework to follow during each sales conversation you have, helping you to prepare better and go into each call with the confidence you need to give your best effort.
What is SPIN?
This very well-known methodology comes from the book SPIN Selling, which was published in 1988 and was written by English author Neil Rackham. Since its release it has been recognised as one of the greatest guide books of all time on the subject of selling and, among other achievements, made it into the New York Times ‘business bestsellers’ list.
The fundamental principles of SPIN are as follows:
When you’re having a conversation with a prospective customer you initially want to understand what that person’s current situation is, what their problems are in relation to that situation and what the implications of those problems are. Once you have this information you can start to understand what kind of solution they need to make their life better, and to make their goals easier – or possible – to achieve.
Situation, Problems, Implication and Needs.
Why does it matter?
Talking about how fantastic your products or services are certainly has its place when it comes to sales and marketing. But no one likes a show off. Most curious prospects – or browsers on your website for that matter – will soon lose interest if you talk for too long about yourself. What they really want to know is how you can help them, and that’s where SPIN comes in. This is also why asking good discovery questions is critical to successfully adopting this methodology.
SPIN matters because, when used effectively, it not only helps you to qualify an opportunity by gathering crucial information about the prospect or customer; it also allows them to convince themselves by answering your questions that they need a solution (your solution) to address their problems, and to reduce or eradicate those negative implications in order to improve their situation. It’s as simple as that.
How does it work?
Think of it like this:
There is a running club whose members are preparing for a 100m sprint and they are all aiming for personal-best finish times (situation). However, when they arrive on the evening of the race the organisers have mistakenly fixed ten hurdles in place along the track, before finishing their shifts and going home for the night (problems). Therefore, if the race were to go ahead with those hurdles in the way the consequence for the runners would be that there is no chance of them achieving their goals (implication).
Continuing with this same analogy – if you just so happened to be in the audience at this fateful event and, coincidentally, your business sells hurdle-removing machines, you wouldn’t pitch your business to the head of the running club by describing how shiny and big the machines are. Rather, you’d talk about how efficient the machines are at quickly removing hurdles from race tracks i.e. you’d align what your business offers with exactly what they need (needs). You might even mention another race event you were at recently where you provided the solution to a very similar problem, and how that race went ahead successfully thanks to what you did.
Ok, we’re back in the room.
You might actually find yourself talking about (or ‘selling’) your business, products and/or services much less when you begin using the SPIN approach. But that’s fine. The prospect will ask you questions eventually, when the time is right. In the meantime, let them keep talking and your solution will begin to sell itself.
When I first started using SPIN I would literally scribble the letters down onto a piece of paper, leaving space to fill in information relayed by the person answering my questions. Like this:
Sticking to this structure also helps you to concisely summarise what has been discussed at the end of the call, which can further consolidate in the prospect’s mind that action needs to be taken while also demonstrating that you have been paying attention.
Why not give it a try? If you can implement this method at the core of your sales conversations you will not only feel more comfortable on sales calls but you’ll begin to see a much higher conversion of leads into well-qualified sales opportunities.
This article was written by Joe Ogden.
Joe is a copywriter and sales professional with a background in business development and technology sales. He is passionate about helping entrepreneurs, freelancers and small companies reach a wider audience and grow their business. Read more at Joe’s website.