Selling is not selling. It’s people buying from you.GettyMy entire career was spent in branding and marketing culminating in the creation of a billion-dollar agency. However, earlier in my career, my second mentor thought I was so bad at consultative selling that he sent me to a three-day workshop in San Francisco that changed my life. The workshop was my introduction to SPIN Selling (designed by Neil Rackham along with his research team at Huthwaite). It completely changed my understanding of “sales” and also leaked into my personal life. The big insight was that I could learn how to better do research and ask questions, via the SPIN framework, so that clients would actually want to buy from me. That was eye opening and changed my career trajectory. Before I embraced SPIN Selling, selling was, well, selling. I mostly concentrated on just closing the client no matter what their real problem was. The problem with that in today’s world, is that selling based on a closing mentality is inefficient for large, complex deals that can be mostly service based. Because, unlike small sales where the deal size is small or it is a one-time purchase, larger consultative sales requires a healthy relationship between the buyer and seller before and after the sale. This is because these larger deals involve an extended sales process which consists of multiple decision makers and after sale support. This is especially relevant if you’re selling a SaaS cloud product or offering financial or marketing services over a one to three-year time period worth millions of dollars. Let me introduce you to a cliff notes introduction of SPIN selling. Often misinterpreted as a selling technique, SPIN selling is more of a communication-focused sales methodology which trains the people that are selling to ask the right questions which gets the prospect to acknowledge the real problem and that your product/service is a solution they actually need. This question-based approach is designed to help you engage with your prospective clients effectively, build trust, uncover their needs, find the real problem and help them arrive at a solution, hopefully yours. Before you embark on the questions below, do your research and homework on a prospective client. There is nothing worse than asking general, generic questions of a prospective client. Use google, set up a Google Alert on the client, use Lexis Nexus, see if they have an annual report, look at the prospects LinkedIn profile to better understand their career, etc. Then you can get ready for a prospect meeting and begin to use your line of questioning to find and understand the prospects problem. There are four key stages of questioning in SPIN Selling:S – Situation Questions P – Problem QuestionsI – Implication Questions N – Need-Payoff QuestionsSales team celebrating a key sale to a client.GettySituation Question: The first set of questions should be about learning about the prospect and where he/she stands. Situation questions help you do exactly that. These questions will depend on their potential problem and be related to what pain points they are going through. Situation questions are usually asked during the first stage of the sales process, so gathering information that is accurate is critical. Possible questions could be: Which software do you currently use to do email marketing?Who’s responsible for onboarding new employees?Why do you do sales prospecting this way?How much do you spend on digital advertising?How do you generate leads from your website?Problem Questions: Once you understand the situation, you now need to identify the potential areas of opportunities where your product/service can help. It’s finding out what problems or pain points they are suffering from. Asking the right questions here can sometimes even help the prospect learn about problems he/she wasn’t aware of before. Bringing forth the right pain point will push them to look for a solution, which hopefully you will provide.How expensive is your email marketing service?What happens if you don’t generate enough leads?How do you measure the effectiveness of your content marketing?What are the two things that are keeping you from hitting your objectives?Are your current conversion rates generating the revenue you need?Implication Questions: After identifying a real problem through understanding the symptoms your prospect is going through, ensure that they understand the negative consequences of this problem if it isn’t dealt with. Using Implication questions you can heighten the seriousness of the problem and its impact and eventually drive home the point that their needs outweigh the cost of your solution.How has this issue impacted your recruiting efforts?Has this problem taken a toll on your sales team?If a server breaks down in a remote office, what does that cost you?Are you aware early on if sales reps are underperforming?Do you actually know how much revenue you lose when the website is down?Need-Payoff Question: This last line of questioning will help bring forth your product or service benefits as a solution to your prospect’s problems. Use Need-Payoff questions to put your product in a favorable light which will help squash any negative thoughts the prospect might have.If we were to increase your conversion rate, would that be valuable?If we help solve this problem, would that help achieve your sales goals?Would it help if all your offices were connected to a single cloud database?What benefits do you see in using a tool that improves your keyword ranking?Would your sales team sell more by using this sales automation tool?The goal with these last set of questions is to get the prospect to say yes. Imagine this scenario. You say, “So, Your company spent more than $450,000 in turning over the wrong sales people this year? The prospect says “Yes.” You say, “Would product training software potentially increase your sales on-boarding success and possibly impact retention?” The prospect says yes, the training would help with the retention of their sales reps. Then you say,” Do you believe a solution like this would help solve the problem of retention and sales?” The prospect almost has to say yes because they already agreed to the problem and the possible solution. You are very close to asking for the order and closing them. They are now ready to buy from you.