For business

Turbocharge Your Business with the SPIN Sales Method

According to research, two main things often repel customers. The first is when a sales manager is overly pushy, and the second is when they show no interest in the customer’s needs. The SPIN method helps structure the conversation in such a way that the customer naturally decides to make a purchase. The result is high sales conversion and satisfied customers who feel genuinely understood. Follow Ringostat’s tips on how to build dialogues with customers that lead to successful sales.

What is the SPIN method?

The SPIN Method is one of the most popular and effective sales techniques. However, only some companies have implemented and fully utilized it. SPIN might seem complex at first glance, but it is definitely worth adopting.

Research shows that SPIN can increase sales productivity by 17%. Calculate your current conversion rate, average order value, and sales cycle. This will help you understand how much revenue you are losing by not using this effective technique.

SPIN shifts the focus from the product to the customer, centring on questions that allow a clear understanding of the customer’s real needs. The sales rep should not push a direct sale but communicate in a way that leads the client to realize on their own that it is worth purchasing the product or service. After all, the lack of a decision affects their revenue, and the customer clearly understands this during the dialogue.

The acronym stands for the following:

  • Situation — questions that help the seller understand the context and the customer’s inquiry;
  • Problem — questions that ideфntify the issues the customer is facing;
  • Implication — questions that reveal the impact of these problems on the customer;
  • Need-Payoff — questions that present the product/service as a solution to these problems.
SPIN principle
The SPIN Principle. Source

Neil Rackham, an American sales consultant, developed the SPIN method in the 1980s. Rackham studied the behavior of salespeople during more than 35,000 commercial meetings with potential clients. He found that the most successful managers asked specific questions that helped them better understand buyers’ needs. This approach also allows them to present their products or services as solutions.

Rackham described his research in the book “SPIN-Selling,” published in 1988. The book became a bestseller and helped popularize the SPIN method worldwide. The SPIN method was founded on three basic principles. 

  1. Sales are a process, not an event. Salespeople must adhere to a clearly defined process to conduct effective client conversations. 
  2. Asking the right questions is crucial. They help salespeople understand clients’ pains and build trusted relationships with them.
  3. Managers should focus on the client’s needs, not their products/services. 

At Ringostat, we apply the SPIN method to thoroughly understand the client’s needs and offer the appropriate product. In this article, we will share some tips on its practical application.

Anti-SPIN: how not to sell

The request that a client brings may not necessarily reflect their actual need. Additionally, the seller may be unable to express or understand the client’s true motive or problem. For instance, a potential student’s request for programming courses might be “I want to learn Python,” but their real need is to have a well-paying career. Therefore, the request is just a result of the need, and the salesperson’s job is to figure out what led to that need.

Below is an example of a hypothetical dialogue that contradicts the principles of SPIN.

Salesperson: What tasks do you want to solve with our staff training?

Client: I need to conduct it to improve the quality of service.

Salesperson: Great! Our training will solve all your tasks. Now, let me tell you everything about it.

What’s wrong with this “direct” approach? It seems you’re offering the client exactly what they’re asking for, but almost everything is wrong.

  1. The manager didn’t uncover the valid reasons for the client’s request. As a result, the service likely won’t solve the client’s problem. This could lead to the client being dissatisfied and possibly leaving a negative review or advising others not to use your services. 
  2. Without knowing the client’s circumstances and needs, the company cannot offer additional services or alternatives if the client is dissatisfied or if the product/service is currently unavailable. 
  3. The business deprives itself of the opportunity better to understand its target audience, problems, and goals. The consequences are far-reaching, from incorrect conversation scripts to inaccurate targeting in advertising and ineffective creatives.

A sales manager who operates this way can be likened to a subpar doctor. When a patient requests headache medication, the doctor simply prescribes it without delving into the root cause of the headache. Conversely, a competent doctor would seek to identify the underlying issues causing the headache, such as high blood pressure, and treat that first rather than just alleviating the symptoms.

How to Apply SPIN in Practice

If you apply SPIN with every client, you will stop wasting time on people who didn’t even need to be sold to. This will allow you to focus on those most likely to make a deal with you. As a result, your total sales will increase.

Now, let’s look at examples of questions to ask at each stage. Ideally, you should develop a table with the most common questions that logically transition from the S stage to P, I, and N. This will help sales representatives avoid improvising and have well-thought-out responses ready at hand.

SPIN scheme

S-questions related to the situation

Often, managers hastily dive into selling without grasping the client’s situation. They concentrate only on the product initially, which is fundamentally incorrect.

By beginning with situational questions, the salesperson reveals the context vital for the sales process. Asking situational questions helps understand the client’s needs, expectations, challenges, and budget. This allows you to align your product with the bigger picture.

Keep in mind the following information: situational questions benefit you more than the buyer. Therefore, try not to linger too long at this stage. Conduct additional research to reduce the number of questions and ask only those that are relevant and specific to the company. For example, find out in advance which cities the business operates in, its niche, how long it has been in the market, etc.

Don’t test the patience of potential clients by asking obvious questions like “Are you satisfied with your current supplier?” because it’s clear they are not if they have approached you. Instead, ask more relevant questions like “What made you look for a new supplier?”

Examples of Questions

  • Why do you want to change the current situation, and why now?
  • What prompted this change?
  • What KPIs do you use to evaluate your work?
  • What is your advertising budget?
  • What daily challenges do you face, and how would you like to solve them? Why haven’t you done so earlier?
SPIN method in sales, S

By the way, asking specific questions (S-questions) will help complete the client’s profile. It’s even better to have a solution that saves time during this process. For example, AI Ringostat can automatically analyze conversations and extract critical information about the client. Then, you only need to note it down and copy it into the CRM. Additionally, artificial intelligence can transcribe conversations, identify errors, and suggest the best next steps for the sales team.

SPIN in sales, help of AI
Example of a Client Profile Compiled by Ringostat’s Artificial Intelligence

💡 Analyse 100% of customer conversations with artificial intelligence

We will train Ringostat AI Supervisor to perform the tasks of your business

P-questions related to problems 

This set of questions aims to identify areas of opportunity where your product or service can assist. In essence, at this stage, we explore the problems and pains that clients are experiencing.

Responding to your questions, the potential buyer may even discover issues they were unaware of. Identifying a new pain point will prompt them to seek a solution, which you will ultimately offer.

To illustrate, let’s continue with our sales department training example. Suppose a client reaches out to a consulting company with a general issue simply for consultation. At that moment, they may not even realize that they need staff training.

Example of Dialogue

Client: I need to improve the efficiency of the sales department.

Sales: Why do you need this? (P-problem question)

Client: I believe that currently my team lacks professionalism.

Sales: I see. What exactly do you mean? (P-problem question)

Client: In my opinion, the managers don’t know how to handle leads with even minimal doubts. (Real problem and request)

Sales: Why has this issue arisen now? Was it not happening before? (P-problem question)

Client: More and more deals are falling through, despite initial client interest. Also, I’ve noticed that the team doesn’t know how to handle objections and fully describe the advantages of our product. (Real pain).

SPIN in sales, P-questions related to problems 

I-questions related to implications

After identifying the client’s main problems, we move on to exploring their implications. By showing the buyer what the consequences could be, you reinforce the desire to resolve the issue urgently, which was formulated at the stage of asking P-questions. Again, avoid mentioning your product at this stage — the conversation still revolves around the client and their needs.

At the previous stage, the client may perceive the problems identified through questions simply as inconveniences that do not require resolution. I-questions show buyers why these problems need to be addressed. The best way to do this is to inquire about losses measured in terms of money and time.

Examples of questions:

  • How much money are you losing weekly due to the inefficiencies of process X?
  • How does the current process impact outcomes such as leads, sales, and revenue?
  • How would you allocate the budget currently being wasted due to issue Y?
  • How does this problem affect your KPIs?
  • How much more could your teams achieve each week without these time losses?
SPIN in sales, I-questions related to implications

N-questions related to solutions

Only at this stage does the sales manager guide the client in understanding how the products and services can solve their problems. But again, this is done indirectly. The employee prompts the client to conclude the benefits of the solution provided by the company. For example, the salesperson may ask: “As you mentioned, due to problem X, you are losing $1500 monthly. If you eliminate it, you will receive this amount additionally, right?”

In this case, the client only needs to agree. After all, the sales rep just summarizes what has already been discussed. Then you can present the solution to the problem because the “ground is prepared,” and your proposal will be much more favorably accepted.

As aptly stated on the HubSpot blog: “Need Payoff questions encourage the potential client to explain the benefits of your product in their own words. This is much more convincing than listening to you describe these benefits.”

Examples of questions:

  • Will simplifying the implementation of X contribute to achieving your business goals?
  • Will it be valuable for your team?
  • Why is the ability to do X important for your company?
  • How will optimizing this process impact your work and results? What specific amount, in your opinion, will it add to sales?
  • What will change if your employees spend less time on X and more on their direct duties?
SPIN, N-questions related to solutions

Will the client answer all those questions? 

Just dive into the SPIN principle and watch the magic unfold! People are used to salespeople who talk more than they listen, but flipping the script with needed identification will leave them pleasantly surprised and make your conversation way more exciting. Just set the right tone from the start. Tell them that understanding their needs is paramount, so you plan to spend ample time diving deep into questions and discussing their situation.

Allocate 10-15 minutes (maybe even 20) for the needed discovery phase. Because let’s face it, these blocks are the keys to unlocking success. Remember, by investing just a short chunk of time in asking questions, you can save yourself and your team hours, even days, of unnecessary work. And who wants to end up spinning their wheels on a solution that misses the mark? Not you, and certainly not your client!

What mistakes should be avoided when using the SPIN sales method? 

There’s an opinion that SPIN isn’t just for companies selling complex products or high-ticket items. But the technique works wonderfully in other cases too – it’s all about applying it correctly.

  1. Avoid closed-ended questions – those that can be answered with a simple “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.” Without elaborative responses, it’ll be hard to delve deeper or fully understand the challenges and opportunities of the business.
  2. Don’t rush to ask the next question immediately; let the client speak. Sometimes, all it takes is saying “Oh, really?” or “Wow, that’s interesting” to get additional important details.
  3. Avoid dominating the conversation or prompting answers. People never want to build trusting relationships with those who push. Focus on helping the client solve their problems.
  4. Don’t answer for the buyer. By doing so, you hinder them from independently reaching the right conclusions. If the client simply agrees with what you say, it diminishes the effectiveness of the technique.
  5. Don’t disrupt the sequence. Don’t start with P-questions without understanding the context and the client’s needs. Otherwise, you won’t be able to offer a relevant solution.

💰 Get more orders for your business with Ringostat and boost your sales

Find out how promotion investments pay off: reports will show which ads work and which do not — this will allow you to reallocate the budget


Control whether sales reps miss customers, do they pick up the phone on time, how they communicate with customers

About author

Editor of the Ringostat blog. Author of articles for the media about digital and big portals about business. Studied journalism at the Odessa National University named after I. I. Mechnikov.