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SPIN Selling: Implicating Questions and Good Sellers

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We comment here on the blog about the importance of SPIN Selling as a sales methodology and how its entry into the market has changed the way of selling.
When it came to complex sales, SPIN was the pioneering methodology that dictated the step-by-step instructions for salespeople to be able to develop tools and techniques to complete larger-scale sales.
Neil Rackham, the creator of SPIN, based his book on a field study carried out with more than 30 researchers in 20 different countries. In total, the survey analyzed around 35,000 sales leads. Keep reading this article to understand how Sky Marketing creates high-end sales.

In short, Mr. Rackham established that the process of a complex sale should have more elements to drive the negotiation, rather than just using closing techniques – which works very well for simple sales.
Moving quickly through the steps of the SPIN strategy, we have Situation, Problem, Implication and Need for a solution. Each stage contains different types of approach that even generate different results.
In today’s text, we’ll take a closer look at the Implication step and how crucial that step is when it comes to complex sales. If you’re a salesperson in Blue World City and want to expand your skills, you’ll want to go to the end of this text to learn more about implication questions.
Implications, in the sales-related term, refer to issues that help the customer feel urgency, explore problems, and delineate consequences.
Keep this definition in mind and you will have valuable insights from this text!

SPIN Selling and the Implication Questions

More experienced salespeople, when placed in an important sale situation, are able to do a good job of developing Situation and Problem questions.
However, in simple sales, it is possible to be successful if you can discover the customer’s pain so that you can resolve it. So, just use situation and problem questions to be effective.
What Neil Rackham proved is precisely that this mindset does not work for complex sales. See this example from the book that proves this line of reasoning:
Salesperson: (Status question) – Do you use Contortomat machines in this division?
Buyer: Yes, we have three of them.
Seller: (Problem question)– And do they have operating difficulties?
Buyer : (Implied need) – They are difficult and require a lot of time to train operators. But we learn to use them.
Seller: (Offering a solution) – We can solve your operation problem! All you have to do is replace your current machine with our new model – the Easyflo system.
Buyer: And how much does your new system cost?
Seller: The basic model costs around R$ 200,000 and… Buyer: R$ 200,000?!!! Just to use an easier machine? You must be kidding. 

It’s easy to see in this dialogue that even though the salesperson quickly identified a problem, he didn’t build value into the solution he would deliver. Therefore, the buyer simply did not see enough advantage that he could make the effort and buy a more modern and efficient machine system.
We then realized that the seller did not go through the steps of implication and need for a solution. That’s why he was not effective when making the sale, which was relatively more complex.
Can you see now the importance of these last two steps to make a more complex sale?
It is precisely in the implication stage that you will generate value for your solution at the time of negotiation. From the identified problem, you will infer implications of that problem that will make the buyer realize that that problem can have serious consequences.
It is at the moment of implication that you create a sense of urgency in the buyer!
This completely changes the game. The buyer is now more available to learn more about your solution, as he now sees a potential latent value you are generating for him. These are the conversational tactics that the salesperson of Capital Smart City use.
Let’s go back to the example, now with implication questions – right after the problem is identified.
Seller: (Question of implication) –You told me machines are hard to use, right? What is the effect of this problem on the outcome of your process?
Buyer: (Perceiving the problem as small) – The effect is small as we trained 3 people to operate the machine.
Salesperson: (Question of implication) – But if you only have 3 operators, doesn’t that create a bottleneck in the process?
Buyer: (Still seeing the problem as small) – No. It’s only when an operator leaves the company that we have a problem, as we have to wait while a new operator is trained.
Salesperson: (Implication question) – It appears that the difficulty of managing these machines would indicate a problem with operator turnover. Correct?
Buyer: (Realizing that the problem is bigger than he imagined) – Yes. In general, people do not like to operate this type of machine and that is why many operators do not spend much time with us.
Seller: (Question of implication) – I see. But in terms of training, how much do you think this turnover generates in expenses to train new operators?
Buyer: (Convinced that the problem is serious) – We spent more than R$5,000 to train new operators. Not to mention the expenses generated by the time this new operator is being trained and still cannot act. Quite complicated!
Seller: (Summary) – Well, so we have an important problem regarding turnover, right? With a high turnover, you end up spending 5,000 reais just for training, not counting the expense you would have paying overtime for another operator to cover the shift. You told me then that Contortomat machines are difficult to use, which makes it costly for you to train new operators – those who left are not satisfied with their current machinery.
Buyer: Indeed, looking at it this way, Contortomat machines are creating a serious problem for the company.
This example from the book, while presenting a specific situation – a sale of a machine system – it illustrates well the relationship of implication questions to complex sales.
The implication questions end up playing a transitional role in the sales process, forwarding the negotiation to the final stage, where you will show your solution by exploring the solution need questions.

Implication – The step that differentiates good sellers

Let’s be honest, from the example we’ve seen, we clearly see the relationship difference when the implication questions are asked effectively and convincingly, don’t we?
The truth is that the purchase decision will always be influenced by two main factors: emotion and reason. However, knowing how to generate an explicit need in the customer shows the salesperson which aspect can be addressed more effectively, making the sales process develop more naturally.
In an earlier article of ours, we commented on how fear dominates reason at the time of purchase. In it, we highlight fear as the main influencer in the process.Studies prove that the human being suffers more when thinking about losing than when conquering. And a good seller knows how to take advantage of it!
With implication questions, the salesperson is able to instill fear in the customer based on the problem that was reported. Did you notice that the seller in the example tries to show the customer that he will spend more if he doesn’t buy your product?
A fear strategy can be applied at the implication stage in a smooth and natural way, developed in the very path the negotiation is taking.
Fear has three elements to be effective:

  • Vulnerability. How vulnerable is the buyer when placed in the problem situation? What will he lose if he doesn’t solve the problem?
  • Gravity. Exactly how much will the buyer lose if they don’t adopt your solution?
  • Efficiency. Is the buyer able to escape the unfavorable situation if he does not adopt your solution?

Again, we can infer from the example the three elements of fear present in negotiation, can’t we?
This proves to us that encouraging fear along with implication questions is a common practice for top performers.
Therefore, we conclude that the implication stage differentiates men from boys! (It actually differentiates the good sellers from the common ones, but put that way it doesn’t sound so cool!)

Conclusion

I hope I have shown you the real importance of SPIN Selling in complex sales. It is precisely the Implication phase that is the point of innovation in sales approached by Neil Rackham.
The disruption caused by SPIN is closely tied to the last two letters of the acronym. My intention was to show you the importance of the letter I and how the small details of a trade can be so effective when closing a more complex account.
Therefore, when using SPIN, remember that it is at the moment of the implication that you direct the sale towards your solution, relating the impact of the problem observed on the buyer’s business.
Of course, it is extremely important to go through the first two steps of the methodology in a concise manner. These first two stages make up the investigation stage of the sales process.
So that you don’t make a mistake before entering the implication step, I suggest you take a look at this infographic about the situation phase. The infographic’s insight is about how it’s possible to fail at this step!
Did you like the text and learn a little more about sales? I’m very happy if so! Any questions I’m always available 

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