SPIN Selling: what it is and how this methodology will help you sell Inbound Marketing services [+ Infographic]

Learn about the SPIN selling methodology, understand how it helps you sell Digital Marketing services and access an infographic with a summary of the content

SPIN Selling is a sales technique that emerged in the 1980s. Although not exactly new, it is today one of the main sales techniques in the world and is especially in vogue in technology companies operating in the B2B market.

The changes in the sales industry have always been in constant evolution, from the simplest to the most complex sales. In theory, selling seems to be simple, but in an increasingly competitive market, with new solutions emerging every day and more informed consumers, selling ends up becoming a much more complex process.

Today, it is rare for a salesperson to be able to close a complex sale without the customer knowing if he really needs the solution. Therefore, every day, new techniques and methodologies are studied and developed to improve the sales process of B2B and B2C companies in all segments.

Noting this situation, Neil Rackham developed the SPIN selling methodology to encourage companies to gain more customers. Adopting this methodology can be a great differential for your agency to close better sales.


What is SPIN Selling and how do I use the methodology to find out what my customer wants?

SPIN Selling is a methodology that provides guidance on the right questions to ask in a business process to increase sales rates, based on 4 words:

  • S TATE
  • I mplicação
  • N eed

What does all this mean?

As with the Inbound Marketing purchase journey, the customer is often unaware that they have a problem and that there is a solution.

So, asking the right questions in a sale is essential for the prospect to realize for themselves that they have a problem and that you can help them with a solution.

In addition, by positioning yourself as a reference on the subject, the customer will notice that you know what you are talking about and this helps in decision making. Faced with so much competition in the market, this is a factor that separates sellers who close deals from sellers who don’t.

Check out the following tips about each type of question to apply when selling Inbound Marketing to your prospects:

1. Situation Questions (S)

Here you start the conversation with your prospect and, in addition to creating rapport or generating empathy, the most important thing is to collect facts and data about the customer’s situation. The goal is to understand its context and understand some of the problems faced.

Before this meeting, don’t forget to pre-research your customer’s product or service and the industry in which they operate so as not to upset them with too many questions. The customer already expects you to know things about their business. Then formulate more advanced questions that contextualize the situation and, at the same time, build credibility for the customer.

For those of you who offer digital services, find out what gaps the customer has in their marketing funnel, analyzing the website, content, conversion forms, posts and engagements on social networks. Also look for more technical points, such as the rate of visitors, if you already invest in paid media, for which keywords are appearing or not on Google’s result pages.

Choose questions related to these gaps in the marketing funnel, going through the Attract, Conversion, Relationship, Sell, Retention, and Analysis steps.

Sample questions

  • Can you tell me a little bit about the situation you face today in your business?
  • What channels does your company use to promote its products/services?
  • How do you relate to your prospects and customers today?
  • How do you do the Email Marketing sending process? Segment your contact lists according to their interests?
  • What tools do you use to send emails?
  • How do you deliver sales leads to your salesperson?
  • How do you analyze your marketing campaigns?
  • What sales process do you use today?
  • How do you monitor the performance and efficiency of your sales team? Which indicators do you use?
  • Do you now calculate how much return each campaign generates for your business?

2. Problem Questions (P)

As you expand on the questions, start asking questions about the problems in the situations described. This will encourage the prospect to identify a problem they may not have noticed yet. Focus on the pain and let the client speak. Listening is the key right now.

This type of question should help you find out what is causing your current pain. Among all the problems that you noticed or that the client described, focus on the one that has the most impact on their business and start some questions that can better detail this pain. For this, use expressions such as “where”, “when”, “who”, “how often” and “what happens if/when”.

This way, you will be able to delve deeper to understand how the current situation of the customer is generating that problem, which facilitates the application of the implication questions.

Sample questions

If the prospect answers the situation questions and you identify that the pain is related to sending Email Marketing, for example, dig deeper with the following questions:

  • What are the main problems you encounter when sending Email Marketing?
  • Why is this process causing a problem now?
  • How does your company work around this problem when it arises?

At this point, the prospect begins to realize that he has a pain that he didn’t even know was a problem and that he doesn’t do anything today to overcome it. That’s when a nuisance starts to arise and you should start the next questions. Just be careful not to expose the prospect too much, so that he’s upset about the problem you’ve discovered.

3. Implication questions (I)

This moment is critical for the prospect to start reacting on the discovered problem. The objective is to help the client to identify, through their questions, the consequences and negative impacts on their business, if they do not do anything to overcome the current problem.

However, in order for the customer to consider his solution, he needs to be sure how serious the problem is. Therefore, it is a good practice to bring examples of similar cases that you know about clients who had negative impacts because they did not pay attention to their pain and needs.

As proud as your buyer’s profile is, believe me: he will be even more annoyed if he realizes that you’re just there to help him get around the problem and know what he’s talking about. Empathy at these times is everything, so use your emotional intelligence to prepare and deal with all possible customer profiles so you don’t miss the sale.

Only when the client realizes the negative impact on the lack of a solution and the consequences to the business will he/she create the sense of urgency to change and resolve the pain.

Sample questions

Continuing on the previous example about sending Email Marketing:

  • Have you ever thought about the negative impact that can happen to your business and your sales, if you keep sending Email Marketing to a large base without knowing to whom or without any type of segmentation according to the interest of your Lead?
  • If you are not generating qualified Leads interested in your product or service, what is the impact on your sales team?

This is the time for him to stop and reflect on impacts he didn’t even know were tied to his current problem. It’s time to look at you with an “I don’t know, please tell me what could happen” face.

To encourage the customer to have a sense of urgency and consider their solution, intrigue them with one or more real-life cases of companies that have experienced this problem and have done nothing about it. For example:

“We’ve already seen companies in the market that fired emails without any type of segmentation and were blacklisted or marked as SPAM, preventing any communication from reaching their potential customers’ inboxes. With that, they spent time and money on tools and a flawed strategy that wasted their Leads and made them lose money”.

Finally, an example question to make the prospect anxious or crazy about your solution is:

  • How do you intend to solve this problem when sending Email Marketing, if our conversation doesn’t evolve?

4. Need questions (N)

The last step in SPIN Selling is to make the customer understand how valuable your solution is. This type of question needs to have positive impact and emotions. After seeing the negative impact, if it doesn’t solve the problem, the prospect needs to feel that their solution can be resolved and empathy cannot be overlooked. If he sees that the problem is so great that the solution seems unattainable, he may become discouraged and give up on the conversation.

To avoid this, be positive and demonstrate that you can solve his problem.

The key to asking the questions is to ensure that the customer specifies the benefits rather than you presenting them to them. How to do this?

Encourage your prospect to imagine what would be different if he didn’t have the current problem, and let him explain it. The amazing thing is that if you ask the right questions, your customer will tell you in detail how your product or service will help them solve their problem. That way, he will see the value proposition in your solution, as well as the “money you’re leaving on the table”. The result of this is to convince yourself that you need this solution.

A point of attention here is to ensure that you ask the necessary questions before describing your solution, as the customer will be eager to know what you can do for them.

Sample questions

  • Do you believe there is room to improve the Email Marketing submission process?
  • How do you think this process could be in your company?
  • What would it be like if you had an increase in response rate?
  • What happens if we can increase your sales by 25%?
  • What positive results would you see in your sales team if you were able to save time and increase their efficiency?
  • If you could see and measure these results, how could this help your business decision making?
  • Was it clear that it is possible to optimize the sending of Email Marketing and the positive impact it generates on your sales?

By asking these types of questions, you will be able to engage the customer and empower them to become a supporter of your cause . This makes it especially easier if he needs to sell the idea to influencers or decision makers.

To explain your solution to the customer’s problem, you can start with a phrase such as “we’ve had customers with the same problem as yours and we were able to solve it.”

Points of Attention on the SPIN Selling Technique

There are some mistakes that can be made when asking the questions. See how to avoid them:

  • If you reach the end of the sales process and your prospect says they need to approve with the partner or review your proposal for longer, one of the possible causes is that you may have used situational questions just to create rapport and empathy, but not to qualify the sale.
  • If, at the end of the negotiation, you have a lot of confidence that the prospect will close and he disappears and doesn’t give any satisfaction, possibly the problem questions are being ineffective, because he didn’t leave his comfort zone and didn’t realize that there is a problem. This usually happens when the salesperson has a ready-made speech, focused on the product. Therefore, try to understand the customer’s business and map the problem that is the main pain.
  • If the objection is that the customer is finding it too expensiveis not a priority at the moment or even hired your competitor, two scenarios may have occurred: either the prospect really did not have enough budget and this was not mapped before or he did not see the benefit and did not understand the value proposition of your solution. With that, try to instigate the prospect with practical and measurable examples so that he can feel the financial or numbers impact on the business, in case he continues without solving the problem.
  • If you create discomfort in the customer, to the point that he thinks the problem is too big and needs to make other investments before hiring your service, the possible cause is that the need questions have been applied inefficiently. To avoid this, the ideal is to realize the right moment to make the scenario positive, prompting the prospect to understand what the results would be if he had this problem solved.


Optimize your process

spin selling

Novacity islamabad know that most amateur salespeople end up asking too many questions about the situation, the prospect becomes annoyed or bored, and the salesperson’s quickest reaction to trying to save the deal is to throw marketing material in front of the customer and present the solution.

That’s the reason for so many lost trades these days. So, be the divider between the sellers who close and the sellers who don’t. The Inbound Marketing market is a blue ocean of opportunities, but it is up to your agency to apply relevant diagnoses to bring great solutions.

Extra: SPIN Selling applied to briefing

Several agencies are still struggling to sell services to new or existing clients. Often, the cause of this difficulty is the mistakes made during the sales process, especially in the briefing — a fundamental investigative step to carry out a diagnosis that enables the creation of a proposal that solves the problem of the prospect.

At this stage, some basic mistakes should be avoided, such as sending a questionnaire by email or wanting to close the sale during the briefing, which can lead to invisible consequences that affect the commercial process.

Below, see how to join SPIN selling to the briefing to win more customers:

1) Ask situation questions (S) to understand the context that prompted the client to request a proposal

Situation questions should be asked at the start of the briefing meeting. The purpose of situation questions is to gather information about the business model, the performance of the digital strategy and the decision-making power or influence of the person who is in contact with the agency.

Stay tuned! These types of questions work well for new customers. If the prospect is already an agency client and is requesting a service upgrade, make a quick initial rapport and go straight to the problem questions, ideal to understand his pains and needs.

2) Make no mistake: symptoms are just symptoms, find out the real causes with problem questions (P)

What would you do if a company asked your agency for a social media plan to increase sales? The obvious would be to present a commercial proposal that points to social media management, correct? Wrong!

You should be aware of the high possibility that this client is just manifesting a symptom of pain that goes deeper.

Therefore, asking him why and how he thinks social media management will increase the company’s sales can help you to make a deeper diagnosis about the real pain of this customer.

In this step, you should ask closed questions followed by open questions and let the prospect speak.  Keep your ears open, after all, explicit needs are the great gateway to finding implicit needs.


Agency: So you want a social media proposal. Have you made a lot of sales through this channel? (Closed question)

Prospect: no.

Agency: and why do you want to invest in a strategy that has not been showing results?

Prospect: to increase the visibility of my company. I want her found.

Agency: and how do you think having a good presence on social media will help you sell more? (Open problem question)

Prospect: Actually, I don’t understand much. But I know that many companies are selling through this channel.

Agency: and you are not satisfied with your current sales volume? (Closed problem question)

Prospect: no. I really need to increase my sales volume.

Agency: How is your current sales rate and how much more do you need to sell per month? (Open problem question)

The client was initially looking for a branding strategy that would hardly increase its sales result. Thanks to the questions, it was possible to identify that the customer’s need is not to increase the company’s visibility on the internet, but to sell more!

3) Don’t stop there: have the prospect say the negative impacts to the company if the problem is not resolved, with implication questions (I)

You already know that the prospect needs to sell more and at the same time reduce the cost of acquiring customers. Even so, the time has not yet come to present solutions. You should keep asking questions, only this time with the intention of further developing the needs expressed by the company.

Sorry for the sensationalism, but at this point you should “push your finger” and press on, to intensify your prospect’s pain until it feels unbearable.

By asking the implication questions, a good salesperson seeks to provoke a sense of urgency and generate action from the company in the search for a solution.


Agency: what have you done in the last year to sell more?

Prospect: I made monthly investments of 2 thousand reais in real estate portals and four months ago I bought a base with more than 500 contacts of people interested in buying houses for 3 thousand reais.

Agency: and what was the result? (Question of implication)

Prospect: I think it was very good, because even with a not so high investment, we managed to generate good opportunities for contacts.

Agency: and how many sales did you make through these two channels? (Problem question)

Prospect: in this period we still haven’t been able to make sales, but we have two proposals in the mouth of the goal.

Agency: and what is your company’s average ticket? (Problem question)

Prospect: 150 thousand reais.

Agency : So in the last year you invested 27 thousand reais to generate good opportunities, but you still haven’t managed to make any sales? (Closed implication question)

Prospect: Not yet.

Agency: and what do you think about it?

Prospect: Indeed, it seems that we have invested our money badly.

Agency: talking about the list with 500 interested contacts. How do you approach these people? (Problem question)

Prospect: I have two sellers who contact them.

Agency: two people? 250 contacts per person sounds like an interesting volume. How many have they been able to talk to? (Problem question)

Prospect: in these three months, each person has contacted an average of 100 people. It takes a while because they need to do some research as we don’t have that much information about these contacts.

Agency: this is an interesting number. How many people can they approach per day? (Open problem question)

Prospect: I don’t have this exact number. But I see that they spend a lot of time trying to contact people. I’ve seen them several times talking to people who have already bought apartments or were just curious. I think they spend a lot of time trying to qualify these people.

Agency: and what is the impact of this on your operation, considering that you have two salespeople? (Question of implication)

Careful not to generate pessimism, you mix problem and implication questions, with the intention of clearing the way for the solution you are going to offer.

4) it’s time to generate expectations in the customer about how to solve the problem: for this, ask necessary questions (N)

At the final moment of the briefing, you have already discovered the context, the company’s problem and the impacts generated in the operation. But one of the most decisive tasks is still missing:  generating a sense of urgency and expectation for a solution.

To illustrate, let us return to the example of the implication made with the contact list purchased by the company:

Agency: and what is the impact of this on your operation, considering that you have two salespeople? (Question of implication)

Prospect : We spend a lot of time trying to get in touch with the people on the list, and often, when we manage to speak, these people are no longer an opportunity for my business area.

Agency: What  if instead of wasting time trying to find and qualify people, your two business contacts received already qualified contacts with relevant and current contact information and interest about your product? (Question of need)

Prospect: Wow, it would be very good, considering that in addition to optimizing our time, the chances of closing more sales increase. The productivity of my commercial operation will undoubtedly increase.

Agency: and would you like to see this in a proposal?

Prospect: of course yes!

Agency : And when you want your salespeople to receive warmer and more qualified contacts, so that their routine is more productive? (Question of need)

Prospect : the idea is for it to be this month. I need to show good results for the company’s directors for yesterday!

Agency:  If I make a marketing proposal for your company, in which every month qualified contacts are delivered to your salespeople from your own digital channel, will we be able to present the solution to you and your directors next week? (Solution alignment)

With the examples above, the main expected result is to obtain a commitment from the prospect for an upcoming meeting, to present the solution.

Once this is done, the focus should be on preparing a  successful business proposal , presenting it to the client and negotiating the best conditions to start the new strategy as soon as possible!

Infographic: see a summary of SPIN Selling

We present several options for SPIN Selling questions and the more you test them, the faster you will be able to succeed in sales .

Remember, when the technique was first created, Neil Rackham tested it over the years and in different types of complex sales. So this methodology is really based on scientific foundations, which makes it more reliable and provides more accurate results in your business process

If you’re starting out in your agency’s sales area, don’t worry. The technique can be easily applied if you study it and devote your time in sales to further testing and improving the questions.

And if you want to go deeper, it’s worth reading Neil Rackham ‘s  book Achieving Sales Excellence – Spin Selling , which teaches how to build value relationships that go beyond products and services.

Common questions:

What is Spin Selling?

It is a sales technique used mainly by technology companies and in the B2B market. It guides the right questions to ask in a sales process, based on 4 words: situation, problem, implication, and need.

Why use Spin Selling?

Customers often do not know that they have a problem and that there is a specific solution for them. That’s why the Spin Selling method is important, through it you can ask the right questions to the prospect, address the problem and suggest a solution.

How to apply Spin Selling?

You can apply Spin Selling with situational questions, using data and facts about the customer’s situation. Problem questions focus on the client’s pain, that is, identifying the client’s problem. Implication questions are asked to generate a sense of urgency and solution to the customer’s problem. The need questions, however, are about demonstrating that you can solve the customer’s pain.

Good Business!

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