Today we are discussing how to develop your sales strategy. To demonstrate how we need to sell today, we are going to build on a foundation that many of us cut our teeth on. We review Neil Rackham’s Spin Selling. SPIN selling is the acronym for four questions that take a disinterested prospect to a motivated buyer. The questions are built on Situation, Problem, Implication and Need payoff questions.
The SPIN selling process was developed after careful observation of 35,000 sales calls. The quality of the questions asked by a sales person highly influence whether the sale was closed. The right question can speed up the process, the wrong question can stall it, or even eliminate it.
Does SPIN, or other processes like Miller Heiman’s Strategic Selling fit today? No, not without major modification as part of a comprehensive sales strategy. The old ways fall short in today’s selling environment. Prospects are waiting longer to engage, there are larger buying teams and more complex decision processes.
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Sales reps tend to apply a linear approach to their sales process. They want to take a prospect from point one, through point five or six of that sales process. Typically, when you do that in today’s environment you can cause misalignment between the buyer and the seller. The sales process needs to marry up with the buying decision process.
60% of the purchasing decision has already been made before buyers encounter the seller. SPIN Selling suggests to ask these questions to find out what the problems are of these buyers. In today’s environment, that might not work. They don’t have the time or the patience. They expect you to come to a sales call already knowing those things. This is also the first opportunity a sales person must differentiate themselves from their competition.
More important than a questioning methodology is alignment of your sales strategy.
- What is a sales strategy? A sales strategy is an operating plan for the company’s sales force.
- What does a sales strategy do? The sales strategy allocates the sales resources efficiently to drive selling costs down, and revenues up.
- What does it mean to use a sales strategy? The use of a sales strategy means that the sales executive will get the most out of his or her sales force.
To grow revenues organically, there are five steps that will enable you to properly define your sales strategy.
- Planning is developing sale and data plans that allow the organization to make the number.
- Engagement defines the process for the sales team to orchestrate the buying process. This includes how sales reps interact with both prospects and customers.
- Organization structure ensures you have the right set-up and the right people are in the right roles to execute the process.
- Execution is focusing on the things that matter, including sales enablement, pipeline, and forecast management.
- Support is helping the sales team be effective in perpetuity by making it easy internally to do business with the organization.
Another thing to consider when engaging with buyers is the concept of active and latent demand. Active demand is when the prospect is aware of their problem and are looking to solve the problem. Latent demand is when the seller creates the opportunity. The buyer is either unaware of the problem or not aware that the problem can be solved in a particular way. The selling approach challenges the status quo of that prospect. There’s value in Neil’s set of questions when driving latent demand, but is misaligned when addressing active demand.
In summary, the SPIN selling approach helped us all get many deals across the table. The SPIN techniques were built on a sequence of questioning types. As sales cycles became more complex it’s not as easy as just taking a one size fits all approach. A comprehensive sales strategy is required.
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