Use SPIN Questions to Lead Prospects to Solutions

One of my all-time favorite books is Neil Rackham’s timelessly refreshing SPIN® Selling.

By using questions laid out in SPIN Selling, I fueled my selling career with high-octane.

And I want to do that for you, too.

SPIN Selling is one of the Miller Heiman Group’s massively successful solutions, and PleinAire Strategies affiliates with the Miller Heiman Group.

We can bring you the experiential value of SPIN.

Neil’s research found that successful salespeople operate with a traceable pattern of questions they ask. They ask the right questions as they relate to the situation, problem, implication, and need-payoff.

Instead of leading with your product or solution, or why you are different from the competition, first ask specific customer-centric questions in these four categories:

1. Situation Questions

Situation questions focus on understanding the buyer’s situation. With this type of question, you can build rapport and equip yourself with valuable information by learning more about the prospect’s situation.  Neil suggests keeping situation questions to a minimum. For instance, you may ask:

“Can you tell me more about the company’s growth goals?”

 Can you tell me what your ideal office space looks like?”

  “What do you think has contributed to the low participation levels in your 401(k) plan?”

2. Problem Questions

Successful salespeople transition into problem questions quite smoothly. Exploring problems and dissatisfaction in areas where your product can help serves multiple purposes.

First, problem questions provide you with a better understanding of your market, help you realize the level of value you could potentially bring to buyers, and build buyer trust by demonstrating your knowledge of the problem.

Second, problem questions enable you get to your prospect’s pain points.

Prospects will buy only when they want to fix, accomplish or avoid something.

And, when they have made the commitment to fix the problem.

Once the prospect acknowledges the problem, he or she will be more likely and willing to listen to your solution. Examples of problem questions:

“Is your existing CRM system difficult for your sales people to use?”

 “Do you have high turnover among middle management?”

 “Is your existing system producing the quality your customers need?”

3. Implication Questions

Salespeople in complex B2B sales find exceptional benefit in implication questions.

Implication questions take the problem you’ve already uncovered and explore its effects or consequences.

Skilled salespeople know how to ask these questions well. This skill takes planning, critical thinking, tact, doing your homework, and a deep understanding of their business and industry.

All these skills, we teach in my book, MERGE, Simply the Complex Sale.

An example of implication questions:

“How many leads do your salespeople lose because of their lack of experience with the CRM system?”

 “You mentioned concern over outgrowing your office space. How will that affect your business?”

 “What will be the impact on your business if you lose key employees?”

4. Need-Payoff Questions

You know when you are in the presence of a true sales professional because he or she asks the ever-important need-payoff questions.

Your goal with these questions is to encourage the prospect to tell you the benefit of your solution.

The need-payoff questions paint a picture of the solution the prospect envisions. For example:

“If we could improve participation levels in your 401(k) plan by 15%, how much would that improve your discrimination testing?”

 “If we could improve retention of key employees in the business, how much savings would that produce in this year’s budget?”

“If we could find you an appropriate office space for continued expansion, how does that affect 2017?”

The power of questions is nothing new.

The great philosopher Socrates introduced the power of questioning as a critical thinking technique in classical Athens some 2,400 years ago.  His “Socratic method” laid the groundwork for Western systems of logic and philosophy.

And his teachings are as relevant today as they were during antiquity.

As an extension of this post, I urge you to develop curiosity around the nature and impact of asking questions; it is a fascinating topic of study.

“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.” ~ Socrates

See you on the upside,


For more information, go to
Or call William L. MacDonald in San Diego at PleinAire Strategies LLC at 760.340.4277 or 213.598.4700

News Alert

MERGE 2.0, read my latest book, now released by the publisher and available on Amazon to purchase.  Learn everything you need to know to book revenue in the new realities of B2B professional selling.

And, if you’re not a reader and prefer interactive learning, take our MERGE 2.0 online learning course.  Go here for more info.

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