SPIN – What’s in a Question?

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By Tony Monisse

Developing an Effective Sales Process

Now more than ever, businesses need the rigour and efficiency of an effective process to help them secure new clients and achieve sales budgets.  In our experience, most businesses do not have a developed sales process which can lead to inefficiencies and lost opportunities and limit business growth. 

Even during these unprecedented times of COVID-19 and the resulting economic downturn, the fundamentals of selling remain the same.  That is we need to understand who we are selling to, what their needs are, tailor our messaging to appeal to them and their needs and have a sales conversation.  

We were recently working with a client on their sales process using the SPIN questioning technique for the initial phase of the sales process.  The initial phase is about discovery or analysis of their needs and learning as much as you can about the potential customer and in particular getting to their real challenges, needs and aspirations.  

SPIN stands for four types of questions: Situation, Problem, Implication and Need.  These questions come into play during the initial phase of a sales meeting or sales conversation.  The SPIN technique is about asking the right questions during the sales process.

Asking the Right Questions in a Sales Conversation

Situation Questions

Situation questions are ‘fact finding’ questions about the prospective buyer’s situation and background to their needs.  Be sure to conduct your background research prior to a sales meeting and then ask targeted questions to get a deeper understanding of a prospect’s business, industry, challenges and opportunities.  Examples of situation questions are: 

“How satisfied are you with your current supplier?”

“How worried are you about retaining your staff?”

Problem Questions

A problem question helps to understand the prospective buyer’s problems and difficulties, to ultimately understand their needs.  These questions are important in a sales conversation and will help to establish an understanding of the buyer’s current problems to be addressed.  They provide a link to your product or service and the solution you are going to offer.  Examples of problem questions are:

“How many people do you have leave each year?”

“Are you experiencing any problems with profitability?”

Implication Questions

These questions reinforce the importance of the buyer’s problems to generate sufficient energy to promote action.  They provide emphasis and clarity, and stress the consequence of the problem.   

“What has the cost been to the business of the high attrition rate?”

“Has the skills shortage resulted in more errors?”

Need Questions

The need questions link the value of the benefits of the solution to the buyer.  They anticipate objections as they demonstrate the value of your product/service solution.  Need questions naturally lead to commitment and action.  Examples of need questions are:

“How valuable would it be to reduce the level of waste in your organisation?”

“How much more profit would you make if your inventory was reduced by half?”  


In summary, using SPIN questions enables you to work through a sales conversation with a prospective buyer to better understand their needs, and relay them back in a way that creates motivation and impetus for action.

If you would like to discuss how you can improve your business’s sales processes, please contact us today.

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Chris Mandzufas

Chris has a diverse range of skills and experience as a result of providing accounting, taxation, advisory board and management consulting services to owners and directors of fast growing businesses.

Chris Smith

Chris Smith has been a member of the Chartered Accountants Australia & New Zealand since 2006, a member of the Tax Institute of Australia since 2013, and a registered Tax Agent since 2018.

Tony Monisse

Tony’s key focus is the integration of strategy and financial management. To this end he has developed tools and process that facilitate this integration, including business modelling, target setting and rolling cash flow forecasts.

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