One of the most interesting challenges I deal with when developing a major account or national account sales team is overcoming the Presentation Model of selling. Seems to be ingrained in the DNA of b2b sales people to use presentations as the golden key to getting the business.
And, up until the mid 1980’s every sales training and development course would discuss the need for a written and rehearsed – structured – sales presentation if you wanted to win a sale.
Then in the mid 1980 a consultant – actually a researcher – by the name of Neil Rackham turned the sales world upside down with his radical sales book – “S.P.I.N Selling.” In his book he used research to show the non-believers that questions win more business, especially in the large sales category. He later wrote a companion book entitled “Major Account Sales Strategies,” which provided detailed information in how to win major account sales – using the Questioning Model for Sales Success.
Other sales trainers and authors built off of Rackham’s base line research in an attempt to make their sales process simpler or in some cases – more complex. In my opinion, Rackham’s first two books are really all you need to put your sales success in fast forward.
The S.P.I.N. Selling® is still being used today as a dedicated sales development process. The acronym S.P.I.N. is used to show the questioning model process. Each letter stands for a specific type of question designed to assist the customer or prospect to self-discover the reasons and benefits to buy from you.
Here is a quick review of each term:
S = Situation – Discuss, learn or explain what are the demographics within the organization.
P = Problem – Helps to identify what problems exist within the company or possible future issues.
I = Implication – Expand the pain of the problem to include things the buyer has not thought about
or related to the specific problem. Also, brings in other functional areas into the discussion.
N = Need-Payoff – This is brilliant – How to have the prospect or customer build a ROI using their
numbers and/or learn what a solution would do for them personally.
Using a Questioning Model will in most cases separate you from the thundering herd of traditional sales people who attempt to sell and close without any specific value built by the customer. I have seen entire b2b sales teams transition to the Questioning Model of Sales and become trusted advisers to their customers (who actually call the sales person for advice.).
My best b2b sales tip is to get these books and study the methods and techniques to improve your questioning skills. You will need to practice these skills since they require some thought and research about your customer’s organization before you show up for an appointment. Winging it is not an option.
Go to Amazon.com or your local bookstore (Barnes & Nobel or Borders) and buy these two books and actually read them. These books will open your eyes to new world of successful selling. Enjoy moving to the top of the class.