The 4 Steps to Spin Selling | Lucidchart Blog
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Did you know that 70% of purchasing decisions are made to solve a particular problem? Sounds like Sales 101, right? And yet if closing a sale were that easy, there wouldn’t be countless articles, books, and seminars on how to do it. And that’s because no two sales scenarios are alike, and neither are two customers. So how do you cut through the clutter and get to the heart of what a client really needs?

Spin selling is a sales process created in 1988 to help anticipate and navigate tough sales situations. Developed by Neil Rackham, the spin selling method is the result of research culled from over 35,000 sales calls. It’s designed to take away some of the ambiguity and difficulty in closing a sale and identify common themes that can help a sales rep create a real connection with a customer. Intuitive in nature, spin selling questions can help you hone your sales skills, and Lucidchart can help you organize them.

spin selling
Spin Selling (Click on image to modify online)

Grouped into four kinds of questions, SPIN stands for:

  • Situation
  • Problem
  • Implication
  • Need-Payoff

Situation questions

Simply put, situation questions help you understand the buyer’s current situation. Starting with situation questions helps you know where your client is coming from, which gives you the information you need to adjust the rest of your questions accordingly. Exploratory questions such as ones about their needs, expectations, pain points, and budget help paint an overall picture of their current business climate.

Problem questions

Selling your product means you have a solution to offer. Problem questions help illustrate the different problems your product solves for your client. A crucial part of asking the right problem questions is anticipating obstacles they may not have even considered yet. 42% of salespeople report their biggest challenge is identifying a sense of urgency, so using your problem questions as a discovery phase is as much about finding answers for your client as it is finding answers for yourself as the sales rep.  

Implication questions

Once you've targeted your client's top hurdles, this stage is designed to explore the implications of those problems. Showing your client the possible causes and effects of their most pressing pain points supports the sense of urgency you laid out in the problem questions step. Using a flowchart can help visually lay out different scenarios for the customer.

For example, Okta uses Lucidchart to create visuals demonstrating how Okta can solve a specific client’s needs. These diagrams show how Okta’s products will fit into a client’s existing architecture.

Okta example

Need-Payoff questions

This fourth set of questions, when done correctly, brings all the previous SPIN questions together. Need-Payoff questions hinge on how well the previous sets of questions went in illustrating the problem/solution relationship between your product and your client. Rather than just telling your client how your product or service can address their pain points, need-payoff questions lead your customer to those conclusions on their own. Having them connect the dots on how you can help them is a much stronger sales pitch than you simply telling them how you think you can help them. 

One-sided conversations are sales killers

One-sided conversations don’t close sales—they kill them. And if you’ve ever had a friend or first (and maybe last) date who only talked about themselves, you can imagine how invisible a client can feel when a salesperson doesn’t ask them any questions. With the SPIN selling method as a guide, you can add authenticity to your sales process and be the type of salesperson that listens more than they talk.

To start mapping out your own SPIN questions, download this free flowchart or sign up for your free Lucidchart account for other ways to streamline steps of your sales process.