Winning Sales: Understanding SPIN in Discovery Calls
by Jim Lundy
As an analyst firm, we always get asked how certain products compare against others on the market. Along with this, we also know a great deal about leading sales practices. When it comes to sales and winning deals, selling features may compromise successful outcomes. This often comes up when communicating with business and sales leaders and is a frequently discussed topic at our firm. This blog overviews winning sales practices.
Don’t Lead with Features When Getting to Know a Prospect
The worst possible mistake a sales rep can make is to lead with features when starting a discussion with a prospect. Yet, it continues to happen daily. Sometimes, this is because enterprises do not have an established and enforced selling methodology (yes, you need one) and lack proper training in sales pitches for opening calls.
The Value of a Sales Methodology
The importance of having a selling methodology cannot be overstated. In many cases, however, the deployed methodology can be too complex, which leads a sales rep to fall back on what they know best: talking about their product.
The better approach is to get customers to discuss their needs and listen carefully to those needs before jumping into a product pitch. This is often the most fundamental technical aspect of selling that must be recognized and corrected. Sales leadership and senior leadership at a firm need to recognize this as well.
Back to Basics for Sales Discovery: What Is SPIN?
There are many people who claim to be sales experts and recommend approaches to discovery calls, but never mention a methodology to ensure success. SPIN is one of those methodologies. SPIN selling was developed by Neil Rackham, former head of Huthwaite Corporation. SPIN stands for:
- Needs Payoff
I used the SPIN methodology while I was in sales at Xerox and found it especially useful for discovery calls. Recently, I attended a briefing with Pitcher, a sales engagement firm based in Zurich, and they shared a set of questions they had developed for a client. I recognized that these were SPIN questions. They confirmed that they were SPIN-related and that they were providing assistance to certain clients in sales methodology.
Don’t Sell Features
The biggest thing that sales executives and sales managers need to constantly remember is how to solve problems and not sell features. Doing your account planning before making the initial discovery call is key. If you are trying to hone your sales skills, buy the SPIN book and start acing your sales calls. The bottom line is to not begin the conversation with a pitch about product features. Get the prospect to tell you their pain points. If you do that, you are well on your way toward success.
Have the Right Sales Playbook
One of the best sales strategies is to listen to the buyer’s needs and help them to solve their problems. Have success stories at hand but most importantly, know your buyer and use a repeatable approach to listening, guiding, and providing them with your service that helps them solve their business problems. If you do that, you will have greater success than ever.
Note: I’ll be talking about this and more at the Sales Enablement Soiree during Dreamforce in San Francisco.