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4.2 out of 5 stars
SPIN Selling
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I am a personal coach and I offer a high-cost service - I am not a sales professional and I do not like to "sell." This method is just what I've been looking for. I have listened to the audiocassette a couple of times and I find the SPIN Selling approach easy to understand and effective.
The only thing that prevents me from giving this book 5 stars is the information sounds more like a research paper than a book - it's a bit dry, academic and takes longer to get to the point. But, the value of the useful information presented makes it worthwhile. A big thumbs up!
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on September 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I'm a geek, but, due to circumstances beyond my control, I was forced to create some sales training. I had this book recommended to me, and it saved my sanity.
The title is very unfortunate. "SPIN" in this book doesn't refer to the stuff that White House flunkies and PR flacks do...it's an acronym for the components of Rackham's sales methodology.
If you're not a sales type, you may have been grossed out by the high B.S. level of most books about selling. This book, on the other hand, is very factual and direct, and it's free of hoopla, glittering generalizations, and vacuous, trivial "case studies." Most amazingly, it presents sales in a way that makes it seem not so morally repellent. If it's humanly possible for sales to be a customer-service function, it's by following the practices in "Spin Selling."
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on May 8, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This was one of the better sales books I have read. It brings up a new perspective of questioning the customer. Rackham shows the reader how to take a seemingly small customer problem and develop it into a situation that needs immediate attention by the customer (i.e. he needs to buy your product). It dispels a lot of the common myths about selling - don't use all of those stupid closes that only sometimes work with inexpensive commodity items, etc. He also hammers home how to advance each sale by obtaining commitment of some sort - not necessarily a sale, but some commitment of furthering the sales process.
The only possible drawbacks I noticed were that unless phrased carefully, the "rubbing salt into the wound" segment of the problem/implication questions can be taken the wrong way by some customers. Further, a lot of customers (at least in my industry) are probably already acutely aware of the problems they have and their implications. It is still a good read, though.
The book is definitely aimed at sellers of high-dollar, high value-add items and not at booksellers or used car salespeople. As the title of this review indicates, the book was great on the questioning tactics of a sales call, but it does not address the strategic aspects of which customers to target, how to get to know the players at each account, etc. For the other half of the sales picture, I would highly recommend "Strategic Selling" and perhaps even "Conceptual Selling" by Miller and Heiman. Those two books were the two best I have read on selling, but Spin Selling is definitely recommended as an addition to the complex product salesperson's library.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Generally, I enjoyed reading this book. It is easy to read and also is convincing as it, time and again, refers back to field research done by the author. To underline this, many observations of actual sales-calls are "quoted".
If you are new to sales, you might find that the continuous assumption that "you have been, of course, for a long time been familiar with the following concepts..." gets a bit irritating after a while. A side-effect is, that the author quite often feels the need to defend himself against established sales-culture. Also, the fact that the book brings useful news for those selling "large" items only does not exactly jump from the publisher's notes.
However, if you are in large sales and wondering why the old-establised methods aren't working for you, then this book could be worth its weight in gold for you and then some.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
I absolutely love books based on research, and besides the catchy name, that is the single biggest selling point for SPIN Selling. Rackham is a researcher by profession, and he wrote the book after conducting an extensive research effort and then testing his theories as best he could.

The primary conclusions of Rackham's research are that people behave differently when making major purchases than they do when making minor purchases, so salespeople should adapt their approaches to this fact. He concludes that the best salespeople interview prospects carefully, and that, to sell high-ticket items, you must get the prospect to discuss both the pain associated with the problem at hand and the positive results of fixing that problem.

While his conclusions aren't anything new (after all, he learned all of it by watching individual salespeople do their thing), Rackham's logical approach to proving his theories should help sales managers convince salespeople to stop talking and start asking questions - eliminating a fundamental mistake made by most salespeople.

Anyone who is struggling with the sales appointment will find value in this book, because it proves you should ask questions instead of talking all the time. However, if you're looking for more than proof of what should occur, this book is probably not for you, because easily 85 percent of the content is devoted to proving the point, rather than to helping a salesperson learn how to fix the problem. In other words, Rackham stays true to his values by describing the situation, identifying the problem, demonstrating the implication and putting value to the payoff, but then falls short of actually providing the value he says is needed to keep customers happy. If you read SPIN Selling, you will definitely learn what's broken and should be fixed, but you will be left mostly to your own devices on how to fix it.

Enjoy,

Gill
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 1998
Format: Audio CD
Neil Rackham had done what seemed impossible. Actually going on interviews and having his researchers go on interviews with salespeople and quantify their efforts and successes . Not only did they observe but they were able to quantify what occured by observing the types of questions and the response they created. Dr. Rackham's model of SPIN-Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-Payoff questions are directional, and effective. The SPIN Selling book contains the theory while the SPIN Fieldbook gives expression to those theories. Dr. Rackham is a psychologist I believe and observes selling as a behavior and a skill. David Sandler in his book, "You can't teach a kid how to read a bicycle at a seminar," developed his "Sandler Selling System" also with a psychologist who specialized in Transactional Analysis I believe is the story. The two books side by side belong in every library and as a resource to understanding the selling model. I read SPIN first. Took several readings to internalize but worth the time and effort. No hit and run tactics here, but not for the low dollar item. Profitable relationships can be built with this model. Good Luck.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I am sure this book's techniques could be applied to a variety of industries, however I worked in the technology field so that is where I applied it at and it worked great.

The book very clearly spells out a series of questioning techniques used to evaluate a prospect's position and needs. It starts out by figuring out where they are at, identifying areas of pain, then proposing solutions. He bases his techniques on statistical research his company has personally done on the effectiveness of sales calls, which I found interesting and helpful in deciding which techniques would work well for me.

I think his techniques are especially useful to the technology arena where you are finding problems (pain) that prospects are feeling and how to solve it; having said that I don't want to imply that if you aren't in this industry you wouldn't find it helpful. I think any industry where you need to ask questions to get information, and then use that information to offer a solution to your prospect would benefit by this book.

One area of the book that I found extremely helpful is his discussion on selling benefits to the customers (based on information you gather using his techniques) and not on the features of your product. His point is that just because you think the product is great because it will toast a piece of bread, doesn't mean it is a desire or need of your prospect and that you would know that from your questions and if it wasn't a benefit to the prospect you wouldn't mention it or try to use it as a sales point. He calls this technique features vs. benefits.

The strong point of this book is its ability to help you develop your questioning techniques and apply the information you learn to the sales process. I think it would be a great addition to anyone's library of sales books. I would recommend this book to anyone who is tired of reading off your company's product spec sheet and losing sales because you don't know what the prospect is really looking for.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The sales guru Zig Ziglar once said "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." To me, that means that you've got to understand people before you can persuade them. If you're to understand someone, they have to talk to you. And the best way to get them to talk is to ask questions. But are there some questions that are more highly correlated with successful selling than others?

Published in 1988 and still one of the best researched sales books on the market, SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham has the answer: Yes, some questions do increase your chances of sales success more than others. More importantly, these client interviews- what SPIN Selling calls the Investigation stage- have the greatest effect on the outcome of the sale. The book outlines the four types of questions that salespeople ask during the Investigation stage:

Situation: What is going on here? How do things work?

Problem (Pain Points): What are the problems you are experiencing?

Implication (Implied Needs): What effect do these problems have on results (cost, quality, delivery, customer service)?

Need-Payoff (Explicit Needs): What improvement in results could you make by resolving these problems with these specific capabilities (perceived value)? Are there other benefits? How important are these benefits to you?

(From page 91) "The SPIN model taps into the psychology of the buying process: buyers' needs move from Implicit to Explicit. The questions provide a roadmap for the seller guiding the call through the steps of need development until Explicit Needs have been reached. The more Explicit Needs you can obtain from buyers, the more likely the call will succeed."

Following the model gets customers to tell you how what you're selling helps them. It makes you partners instead of opponents in the value discovery process. And by helping clients develop the benefits in their own words, you avoid objections and make it easier for clients to sell internally for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on June 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The first thing you have to realize about "SPIN Selling" by Neil Rackham is that it's a book for selling to large accounts, written before anybody else was writing books about selling to large accounts. Yes Virginia, selling to large accounts is different than selling to smaller ones. To begin with, you cannot close the sale in one day, as a result opening the discussion by trying to closing technique is counterproductive.

Besides, in major sales, the salespeople usually are not in the room when most of the important decisions are made. It's the salesperson's contact who needs to sell within her organization. It's the job of the salesperson to arm his contact with enough information to make her an effective influencer.

Like any good book on sales, Rackham has methodology, in this case a four step questioning process. In fact, the book gets its name from the four types of questions asked: Situational, Problem, Implication and Need Payoff. Rackham says the key to sales is understanding where you are in the sales cycle - he identifies The Preliminaries, Investigating, Demonstrating Capability and Obtaining Commitment - and only to asking the kinds of questions that get you to the next level because sales in large accounts follow a specific sequence over a long timeline.

SPIN Selling process
Situational questions set the context for asking Problem questions that reveal implied needs, like the desire for a more accurate billing system. Asking Implication questions about how many ways a more accurate would help the end-user's company lead to Need-Payoff questions, which help the buyer focus on solutions and benefits.

Speaking of benefits, Rackham notes that benefits come in two varieties: those that can help any customer and those that address your customer's express need. He differentiates the two types of "benefits" by calling the former an Advantage and the latter is a real Benefit. Advantages help close small sales, while Benefits, which address explicit buyers needs, help land big deals.

Yes, the book is dated. Written 1988, it doesn't take into account that your customers already know a fair amount about your product from the Web. At least somewhere in the questioning process, you have to determine how much your customer already knows about your product, if only to dispel mistaken assumptions. Additionally, while the book is very strong on tactics, it mistakenly assume you will only sell to someone lower in the company's organization. It does not provide tactics on how to use the SPIN method to move up the company's organizational ladder, trying to get closer to the person who decides what projects get funded.

All of that being said, nearly 25 years after the book was published it is still a foundational book on selling to large account sales. While the information available to customers has changed, the process for moving a customer through the sales cycle has not.

When the book was released, readers found that its theories ran counter to conventional wisdom because it deemphasized closing techniques in large sales. At the time, most sales books focused on closing. Actually, most sales training focused on closing because, as Rackham points out, closing used to be the one place in the sales cycle that had an understandable and quantifiable result.

But Rackham's studies show that trying to close too early alienates professional buyers, the very person who is almost certainly on the other end of the sales call at a large account. Instead, the SPIN method relies on asking questions to tease out problems and help the client understand how the seller's solution can tip the value equation to the buy side of the ledger.

The foundation of the book is rests on research conducted by Huthwaite corporation's 12-year $1 million research project into sales effectiveness, not just one excellent salesperson's career experience This means the results of the book can be applied across a wide spectrum of businesses and industries, making a great starting point for learning about major account sales.

Now on the other hand, if you want to read anything about closing the quick sale, let me point you to either Tom Hopkins or Zig Ziglar.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Read it. Read it again. Read it a third time. Much of the information (minus the constant put down of other sales training books within the work, reason for the 4 and not a 5) is incredible. Easy to read. Simple to implement. As a long time sales professional I have read many sales oriented books over my career. This is definitely on top of the "technology type" oriented books. I am in automotive sales and sometimes the principles do not transfer very well. This book is okay for my business. Along with this book, I would prefer any car salesperson (pro or green-pea) buy "Cars and People: How to Put The Two Together" before they work on my lot.
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