Selling to consumers is one and done, at least until the impulse to buy becomes active again. But the majority of B2B (business-to-business) selling is about providing the optimal solution for a specific problem.
Rackham makes a clear distinction between one-off small sales and significant deals to corporations that grow out of multiple sales calls over time. Customer perceptions and behaviors change with time, the author points out, so the selling method must also change.
If you provide products or services, SPIN selling is a technique you need to know. Even though Rackham published his book in 1988, SPIN selling is still considered an essential technique in sales. SPIN selling remains relevant for sellers for one simple reason: Sellers tend to pitch what they do rather than how they can solve specific problems.
Rackham says sellers can't be consultants. There aren't many people who enjoy being pitched to, but nearly every prospect appreciates working out ways to deal with persistent problems. SPIN selling is all about win-win scenarios, and Rackham offers a very specific methodology for achieving them.
Understanding the SPIN selling methodology
Neil Rackham and his team documented approximately 35,000 sales calls over a 12-year period in the 1970s and 1980s. They documented the techniques that worked and distilled them in SPIN selling.
Rackham and associates were selling to large and mid-sized corporate clients with high-value, multi-stakeholder, complex needs. They found that sales success boiled down into a four-step process that they gave the acronym SPIN: situation, problem, implications, and need payoff.