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Where can SPIN questions be used?

There are different fields of application for SPIN questioning techniques. In coaching, it can often be used to help the client to better understand and assess his or her situation cognitively. In interviews, SPIN questions can be used to gain exciting insights and in sales meetings, SPIN can be used to increase the probability of closing a deal.

Let’s take a look at how SPIN questions work in sales.

S stands for situational questions in SPINS for situation

Phase 1: Situation questions

Far too often, appointments with customers start with product presentations after a short small talk phase. Even experienced and trained sales professionals and managers often make the mistake of offering products and solutions without first considering the customer’s thoughts, needs and goals. If you follow the SPIN question sequence, this cannot happen to you.

Because the situation question is precisely about asking the customer’s current reality. Some variations for situation questions are:

  • What is your current situation?

  • What is their current situation in relation to XY?

  • How would you describe their current situation?

The added value of the situation question is above all the fact that the conversation is based on the thoughts and ideas of the customer and not on the ideas of the salesperson.

P stands for problem questions in SPINP for problem

Phase 2: Problem questions

As soon as the customer has described his own situation, it is a question of finding out where the customer’s pain and/or desire lies. It is often the problems around which one’s own thoughts revolve, so this approach is the easiest. Usually it is already possible to recognize where problems are named when listening to the description of the situation. Now it is a matter of focusing on the existing problems.

The art of successful problem questions is not to express clumsy assumptions or artificial problems, but to invite the customer to share his core problems and describe them in more detail. If this is successful, we move on to phase 3.

I stands for implication questions in SPINI for implication

Phase 3: Implication questions

Phase 3 is all about linking the crucial problem(s) to implications. Again, the very best way is usually the one where the client himself formulates the consequence of the problem, e.g. “If we do not take action here in the next few weeks, we will no longer be the market leader in this area in a few years”. To achieve this, neatly formulated implication questions are needed.

The alternative is to present the consequences for the customer himself, e.g. “In my estimation, there is a great danger that if you do not become active here in the near future, you will be left behind by the competition in a few years’ time”.

N stands for next step in SPINN for next step

Phase 4: Next step questions

It is only in this fourth and final SPIN question phase that solutions come into play. Because now the customer is aware of his situation, his problem and the possible consequences and implications of the problem.

Accordingly, a tailor-made solution can be brought into play at this point. And since questions are so powerful, with pleasure via a suitable benefit question such as:

– With solution ABC we can solve the described problem in X days/weeks/months. Would that be interesting/relevant for you?

– Companies with a very similar problem could solve the problem within X days/weeks/months with our solution ABC and are in a much better position today. Would you also benefit from this?

If the conversation also passes through this fourth phase successfully, the customer usually wants to be sent a detailed offer as the next step. In many cases, the customer already asks for an offer after the third phase (implication question). At this point it is important to be binding and to announce an offer plus follow-up action (e.g. an appointment).

Achieving effective and mutually satisfying meetings with clients can be as simple as that.

Good luck spinning through your next meeting!

ps: The SPIN questioning technique can also be used for some type of conflicts. If you want to know more about one of my approached in conflict management, take a look at this blog post about conflicts.

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