Spin Selling

Spin Selling

By Neil Rackham

One of the most intuitive books on the market for selling. SPIN Selling explains the science behind consultative selling, or rather, presenting an offer to a potential client, based systematically on the clients pain-points, using a powerful questioning process.

The subtitle of the book describes quite well what's inside; “The Best-Validated Sales Method Available Today. Developed From Research Studies Of 35,000 Sales Calls. Used By The Top Sales Forces Across The World.”.

If that isn't enough, consider other sales books written by professional sales people, to be intuitive opinions on the sales process, rather than based on testing, optimizing, and results.

In contrast, SPIN Selling uses data from thousands of calls, and sifts through them to determine if ‘closing' techniques, and ‘situational openers', etc, actually work.

Well, it turns out, there is a huge difference between selling low-cost and high-cost items. Consequently, we are shown evidence that disproves the efficacy of various well-known sales techniques in the high-cost sale.

So, let's break down what SPIN Selling actually entails.

  1. Situational Questions,
  2. Problem Questions
  3. Implication Questions
  4. Need-Payoff Questions

Situation Questions, we learn, involve getting the facts about the business, such as, Who is in charge of the final decision, or what kind of systems or services are already in place.

Problem Questions attempt to investigate where the pain points are with the current service/product. Clarifying the problems to the client is essential.

Implication Questions determine the effects of the problem, and amplify the problem. This increases the clients motivation to shift towards finding a solution.

Need-Payoff Questions get the client to tell you the needs of a potential solution for them. Furthermore, the client ends up explaining the benefits of a solution, such as the one presented by the salesman. It's less intrusive, and ultimately allows the client to present their important needs.

A good quote from the book: “People do not buy from salespeople because they understand their products but because they felt the salesperson understood their problems.”

What Is The Successful Sales Process?

Ultimately, in a successful sale, the buyer does most of the talking, relative to the appropriate questions asked.

Furthermore, the author covered the four stages of a sale: opening, investigating, demonstrating capability, and obtaining commitment.

One example was ‘obtaining commitment' with specific actions from the other party involved. In this case, an actionable commitment is required, such as an additional meeting, or a request for a proposal, and does not necessarily mean a close.

If an actionable commitment is not reached, then the likely outcome is a ‘continuation' or a dead sale. Both of which lead nowhere.

For the high-powered salesman, this is a great read, with practical application. The ideas are intuitive and powerful enough to even influence others outside a business context.

If selling is your thing, then read this. If you want an intuitive perspective on presenting benefits that sell themselves, then read this.

Highly recommended. Pick it up from your library or online. A+

Buy this book on Amazon (kindle or hard copy) now


P.S. From Spin Selling:

And as if all this wasn't enough, consider if you will his quartet of self-training Golden Rules:

  1. Practice only one ‘behaviour’ at a time
  2. Try the new ‘behaviour’ at least three times
  3. Remember Quality before Quantity
  4. Practice in safe situations

Quote of the Moment

People do not buy from salespeople because they understand their products but because they felt the salesperson understood their problems.

~Neil Rackham


  1. Hi Leonidas – hows it going? That’s one book I’ve had sitting on the shelf that I haven’t had a chance to get to yet – spent too much time studying for the AdWords exams lol.. Anyway, I guess I should move that one up the priority list. So many reads – so little time 🙂


    • Hey Randall, this book is really good for sales people, and people who need to sell themselves in general (ie. interviews, business relationships, etc).

      It really emphasizes the ‘consultative’ sale. Asking questions to REALLY understand the clients buy-in points. Instead of assuming what the client wants. Then you sell the benefits, which are highlighted clearly from ‘features’ and ‘advantages’.

      Definitely a recommended read, by far!

      Cheers Randall.

    • No prob Tanmay. This is probably one of my fave books 🙂

      Selling should be a consultation, rather than shoving features down someones throat.

  2. Sorry, but SPIN selling is a lot of hooey.

    It’s a scam that was created by someone who never even carried a bag.

    It has seriously damaged the art of selling, thanks to inept managers who adopt the program.

    In essence, SPIN selling is consultative selling with a twist.

    What Rackham found was that sales were far more successful when a prospect expressed an explicit need.

    He then made the jump that if salespeople can get prospects to express explicit needs that sales success would soar.

    Where he failed is in assuming that correlation implies causation (a huge rookie mistake in the field of science).

    In other words, yes, the chance of closing a sale rises significantly if a prospect expresses an explicit need.

    However, prospects don’t express explicit needs unless they are in crisis mode.

    The concept that a salesperson can somehow convince a prospect to express an explicit need when they are not in crisis mode is nonsense.

    This has been proven time and time again in every SPIN workshop where an explicit need is never expressed except out of role-play fatigue or pity.

    Even the SPIN instructors cannot do it if you challenge them.

    When you do challenge them, they become very uneasy, because they know (better than anyone) that SPIN is a house of cards.

    This is also why SPIN workshops now insist that upper management be present during the workshops – so their instructors aren’t shown to be inept.

    Fifteen or so years ago I, and another season sales rep, attended a SPIN class without management present and we challenged the SPIN instructor to show us how it’s done.

    By the end of the class, the instructor was figuratively curled up in the corner.

    If you, or your company, has adopted SPIN, then expect sales to tank.

    If then don’t, then it will be in spite of SPIN, not because of it.

    • The above comment is a complete bull shit and looks like as if written by a competitor . SPIN works and has been tried and tested in thousands of organization.

      • My name is there for everyone to see and look up. So, no I am not a competitor. I’m simply someone with 35+ years of sales, sales management, and sales training experience. Additionally, I have attended three SPIN workshops throughout my career. Most sales programs out there (including others offered by Huthwaite, like Strategic Selling) are excellent. Even SPIN has some educational value (as you can always take something away to add to your arsenal). Nonetheless, the SPIN paradigm as a whole is nonsense.

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