How have problem questions changed in SPIN Selling?

Written by Neil Rackham


Video transcription: One of the things which we found thirty years ago was if you ask customers about problems, you find out their needs, you find out information which helps you sell - which helps them understand their own problems.  You get into areas where they have energy and where they have interest. In those days, it was enough to ask problems about how things are now. You could ask problem questions like; "Are you happy with your present supplier?", "Are you getting the right kind of performance out of the equipment you're using?", "Do you get the right service levels twenty-four seven from your present way of doing things?'" . You're tying to uncover problems that way. What's happened is this - those problem questions aren't quite as easy to ask and as sure-fire as they used to be. If you say "Do you have problems with your present equipment?". No. Most people say no, it's working OK. Whereas as thirty years ago when things were much less reliable, you can be pretty sure there'd be an answer there that you could use.

So that's one change but another change is this and it's a curious one. Research done in the last three or four years shows that customers rate the added value of salespeople as highest when salespeople ask about future problems. Not just about present problems.

I remember I interviewed one buyer in this research and he said to me "You know if I fall into a pit there's fifty salespeople who can sell me a ladder to help me climb out. There's only one in fifty who can stop me from falling into the pit in the first place" That's a way of saying, I'm interested in people who can help me with the problems that have not yet occurred, not just the problems that have occurred. So that's how problem questions change in this new world of selling SPIN in the 21st century.

Learn the science behind SPIN methodology   *  Discover why closing techniques dramatically reduce your chances of sales  success   *  Find out why benefit statements may be creating customer objections   *  Start implementing the four stage questioning framework used by successful  salespeople.


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