How have problem questions changed in SPIN® Selling?

How have problem questions changed in SPIN® Selling?
Neil Rackham - Problem questions


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.

About the Author
Neil Rackham

Written by Neil Rackham

Neil Rackham is an author, consultant and academic who is widely recognised as one of the founders of modern sales theory. He is a leading authority on "consultative selling," an approach he pioneered and documented in a bestselling BOOK SPIN®Selling which introduced a new paradigm for big complex transactions in the worlds of sales and negotiation. Neil is the founder and former CEO of Huthwaite, where the SPIN® Selling methodology was developed and where it continues to justify its position as one of the most widely adopted tools by sales professionals everywhere.