SPIN Selling, a book by Neil Rackham has been on my shelf for the last 3 years. Never touched. No, actually I did. I wiped the dust off it few times. And each time I looked at it I got a feeling deep down that I needed to read it. Well that day came. This month (February 2016) actually. Ever since I improved my reading speed from 300 to 480 wpm, I have been on a mission to read more books.
SPIN Selling teaches why traditional sales models don’t work for larger sales. With real-world examples, informative cases and clear lessons learnt, the book develops on what turns into a successful SPIN strategy. This book is a must for anyone. Even for software engineers who may have no intention to sell. You don’t have to be in sales to find value in this book. The books journey takes you to a better place where you learn that selling is simply problem solving for a prospect. Instead of spending time with a machine you spend time with a human.
In the early days of a startup, entrepreneurship can be summed up into 2 words: hustling & hacking. You need to be selling and building product that fits user expectations. Selling doesn’t require a product to be ready, as you will soon find out. Selling, or Hustling begins with problem solving. Especially large sales. You need to understand existing customer situation, problems, difficulties, dissatisfactions, points of dissatisfactions with existing solutions and/or general difficulty. This will lead you to uncover their true core needs so that you can offer a better, faster and cheaper solution.
Common selling mistake
Focusing on Features and Advantages instead of Benefits.
— Ernest Semerda (@ernestsemerda) February 14, 2016
Focusing on Features creates Price concerns. Let me repeat this again..
Don’t f**kin focus on features!
Only exception is when you are seeing something of little value. And where the customer has a disassociation between the product and you. If you mess up and the customer gets into a price discussion you will end up dropping the price to meet them. Dropping price is a path to business disaster. You are in sales to make money not loose money. Plus a bad sale creates a liability on the company’s book. It would have been far easier & smarter to learn how to sell Benefits to avoid price concerns and objections.
— Ernest Semerda (@ernestsemerda) February 18, 2016
The SPIN Selling Framework
SPIN Selling is a nice framework any hustler should follow to close most sales. Especially a large sale. Small sales are relatively easy to close.
SaaS (Software as a Service) world
In the world of SaaS (Software as a Service) what may at 1st appear to be a small price point (eg. $5 per month) is actually a large sale when you consider the LTV (Life Time Value) could be 1-2 years and thus the actual sale is $120 x the number of seats purchased. Therefore, having the tools to close such deals could be a business changing opportunity.
To visualize the SPIN Selling Framework, I created the following 1 page chart. Read it left to right. The process starts on the left with Situation questions and ends at the Need-Payoff (far right) side. I still recommend you read the SPIN Selling book to learn how the theory works in practice.
Before you call the prospect
So now you are educated in SPIN Selling and can’t wait to hit the road. Hold on a sec there soldier. There is 1 more step in your training.
To be prepared is half the victory.
~ Miguel de Cervantes
Before you make a sales call to a client, get prepared. This means:
- Write down at least 3 potential problems which the client may have
- Write down some actual Problem Questions that you could ask to uncover each of the potential problems you’ve identified
- Write down what difficulties might arise for each problem. This means Implication Questions that might get the prospect to see the problem as large and urgent to solve and
- Write down 3 Need Questions for each implication
Now you are ready. Go and solve problems!