What is SPIN Selling? Here’s Why You Need to Start

Hand gripping the cover of a SPIN Selling book

The book “SPIN Selling” by Neil Rackham (1988) offers helpful selling tips backed by industry-tested research. Research which was conducted by making over 35,000 sales calls over 12 years. The book is a must-read for anyone who works in high-value sales, but SPIN selling can also apply to small-scale sales.

Today, businesses can use the lessons from Rackham’s book to fine-tune their sales training. Here, we’ll outline some of the key SPIN sales techniques and reveal how your business can use SPIN selling to meet your goals.

The Basics of SPIN

One core principle of SPIN sales is: the buyer should do most of the talking. Your role, the seller, is to ask questions of the buyer. Pushy sales techniques aren’t often effective. Instead, create a dialogue that makes your product seem appealing to the customer. The word “SPIN” represents the four varieties of questions that can lead to a positive relationship with the customer.

Two colleagues sitting at a bench discussing the basics of SPIN
If you’re SPIN selling correctly, the buyer should be doing more talking than you.

Sample Questions Include:

Situation: Use these questions to collect facts, background information, and other important data about the customer. For example, you could ask the customer which markets their business is hoping to reach. While you may have already done some research on your own, asking Situation questions can kick off the conversation even if you already know their answers. However, successful calls tend to use fewer Situation questions than unsuccessful calls.

Problem: When you ask Problem questions, you’re looking for information about the customer’s difficulties, shortcomings, and setbacks. These questions uncover implied needs and other desires that are important to the customer. Problem questions tend to be more effective in small sales rather than large sales.

Implication: Implication questions compel the buyer to reveal the consequences of the problem – in many cases, this means the financial repercussions caused by the issue. When you skip from Problem questions straight to offering a solution, committing to a purchase may seem daunting. However, asking Implication questions allow the customer to build his or her own case. The questions build momentum, causing the customer to realize that the benefits of your product or service may be well worth the investment.

Need-Payoff: This type of question focuses on the solution — which, of course, is your product or service. While you may want to tell the customer how effective your product could be for his business, hold on. The best strategy is to keep asking questions about how your service could improve their bottom line. In “SPIN Selling,” Rackham notes sales associates who were successful with large sales used a high number of Need-Payoff and Implication questions. They were able to go beyond the simple Problem-Solution model.

A conference room filled with people clapping as the two CEO's shake hands over the closed deal
People are more likely to buy from someone they feel comfortable with. If you want to close the deal, make sure you’re personable.

Applying SPIN Today

If you’re ready to start incorporating SPIN into your sales training, there are two basic principles that can help you get started:

  • The buyer should sell his- or herself the product: While it’s tempting to push a product on the buyer, it’s important to stick with asking questions. This typically leads to the buyer asking you questions, which gives you an opportunity to showcase your product’s strengths.
  • People will purchase from a person they like: Be personable and show interest in your buyer’s thoughts and concerns. Thoughtful questions will communicate this.

Final Thoughts

Even if you’re already aware of the answer to a question, ask it anyway. When it comes to personal relationships, asking questions that make the other person feel safe and comfortable can help you foster communication and trust. By incorporating these SPIN selling tips into your high-sales strategy, your customers will sell the products to themselves.

7 Skills for Successful Sales Communication

Avatar for Eric Melillo

Eric Melillo

Eric Melillo is a certified HubSpot Inbound Marketing expert, Senior Brand Strategist, as well as a lover of family, friends, and life. He enjoys good health, Tae Kwon-Do and discovering the most influential marketing trends.


Avatar for Eric Melillo

Eric Melillo

Eric Melillo is a certified HubSpot Inbound Marketing expert, Senior Brand Strategist, as well as a lover of family, friends, and life. He enjoys good health, Tae Kwon-Do and discovering the most influential marketing trends.