Episode#31 – SPIN Selling

SPIN Selling

by Neil Rackham


The book in one sentence

Understand your future-client’s Situation, Problem, the negative Implication for their business and the Need-payoff of a possible solution.


My personal opinion

SPIN Selling is one of my favorite sales books! It includes so much good and proven knowledge about successful sales. I love this book!

One of the findings of SPIN Selling which were really interesting for me was the distinction between open and closed questions. In various sales trainings I was teached that one of the most important things is to ask open questions and avoid closed ones. Neil Rackham found out during his research “that the power of a question lies in whether it’s asking about an area psychologically important to the customer – not whether it’s open or closed.” I remember that after some of my client meetings I asked myself if I used enough open questions rather than if they were simply the right questions at the right time. But we never stop learning, right?

At the end of his book, Neil Rackham gives some great advice on how you can apply the SPIN Selling techniques to your job. He explains how in general a new skill is acquired and how one step after the other will lead you to becoming a more successful sales person.

I really love the scientific approach of SPIN Selling. Rackham’s work is backed up by a lot of research which he explains very well in his book. He is using different statistics and charts to present his findings. It is therefore easy to understand what impact his sales techniques can have which leads to a greater motivation adapting SPIN Selling for oneself.

If you have the chance to take a look at a copy of this book, I recommend you to have a look at page 92. There you will find a perfect overview of the SPIN Selling methodology.


To whom I would recommend this book

All in all, I think SPIN Selling is a classic about state-of-the-art sales. If you are working in big and complex sales, facing long sales cycles where a decision is not made on the spot, then definitely take a look at SPIN Selling.

Truely a sales good-read!


What I learned from this book

  • A great pitch of your product will only have a temporary effect. This can be leveraged “if you can get a decision on the spot”. A pushy or hard-sell style can work for smaller decisions but facing a long sales cycle it will be disturbing for your future-client.
  • “In a small sale it’s relatively easy to seperate the seller from the product.”
  • Keep in mind and show empathy for your future-client: “Larger decisions are more public and a bad decision is much more visible.”
  • The research of Neil Rackham showed that using open instead of closed questions is not the key to a successful sale. It is the right question at the right time what will make you successful, not if the question is open or closed.
  • Neil Rackham discovered four types of questions which – if asked in the right order – will lead to a successful sales conversation: 1) Situation Questions: gather data and “find” the right facts. 2) Problem Questions: identify the challenge which leads to dissatisfaction. 3) Implication Questions: explore the consequence of the challenge and of doing nothing. 4) Need-payoff Question: explore the benefit a possible solution can have for your future-client’s business.
  • Closing techniques can be beneficial for small sales. But for more complex products using closing techniques will “reduce the chance of making a sale.” I think this is a gut feeling we all have. At this point I want to quote the book. Rackham interviewed a senior buyer about his opinion of sales people using closing techniques at him. “It’s not closing itself that I object to. It’s the arrogant assumption that I’m stupid enough to be manipulated into buying through the use of tricks. Whenever a standard closing technique is used on me, it reduces the respect between us – it destroys the professional business relationship.”
  • With every interaction between your future-client and you, seek for advances, not continuations. Set objectives for all your interactions which result in specific outcomes and next steps!
  • “The purpose of questions in the larger sales is to uncover Implied Needs and to develop them into Explicit Needs.”
  • Do not ask unnecessary Situation Questions. Do your homework before the call or meeting and prepare yourself.
  • Use Implication Questions especially when you talk to a decision maker.
  • Ask Need-payoff Questions at the right time: “If you can get the customer to tell you the ways in which your solution will help, then you don’t invite objections.”
  • Benefits > Advantages > Features.
  • Never stop learning and improving your communication and sales skills.


Want to read this book?

Check it out on Amazon.com – SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham



Thanks to the publisher for printing such a great book!

McGraw-Hill Book Company