Key Account Management — Selling Strategically Within an Organizaion

For salespeople, prospecting new accounts is only one part of the sales process. Effective Key Account Management enables salespeople to drive revenue through new and existing accounts using proven sales methodologies.

It is critical to use a proven sales methodology to ensure you are talking to the key decision makers, asking the right questions, and most importantly, obtaining the answers necessary to understand your customers’ critical needs.

Strategic Selling With SPIN Methodology

Once such methodology written by Neil Rackham is still used today by companies all over the world to re-engineer their sales forces and drive increased revenues. SPIN, which stands for “Situation, Problem, Implication, (and) Needs-Payoff”, is a proven sales training program that empowers salespeople with tools critical to driving sales success.

The components of SPIN include:

This component is designed to help the salesperson truly understand their client’s current situation. Questions asked to understand the client’s situation might include:

“Tell me about your current business structure.” “Which products/services do you currently carry?” “How much do you spend on your current service provider for these services?” “How many employees do you have?” “Why did you choose your current provider?” “What is your main business focus, and what is most important to you in having the right products/services at hand?”

Any question you can ask to better understand the client’s current situation will equip you with information that will drive you to the next stage, which is to identify the client’s core “Problem”.

Often your clients will not really be aware of all the problems that exist as a result of their situation. Questions asked to understand the client’s problem(s) might include:

“How well are your current products/services working for you?” “How much over your budget are you now? “How happy are you with your current product/service line? Provider? “What qualifications are missing right now in your current service provider?”

When asking problem questions, it may be important to ask clarifying situational questions along the way. It’s not important to ask the questions in SPIN order. It is most important to ensure that you fully grasp the client’s needs through proper questioning techniques using SPIN as your guide.

Once you have a strong understanding of the Problems a client is facing due to their current Situation, you will be better able to ask Implication questions, which will help you understand the impact your client’s problem is having on their business.

Implication (Impact)
It is your responsibility as a salesperson to help your client understand the implication or impact their problems are having on their business. Often, the Implication or impact does not even come to a client’s mind. Some questions you may want to ask include:

“How does your current cost structure affect your business? “What impact do your (problems) have on your current ability to do business? “How will your current service provider be able to fix your current situation?

The Implication questions are critical to helping your client understand how to make better business decisions in the future, using your products/services; however, it is very important to show respect for your competitor and their products. You don’t want to make your client feel bad about the poor decisions they have made in the past; your focus is on helping them resolve those problems and move on from their current vantage point.

This component of SPIN is where you demonstrate to the client how your solution will benefit their company in a very positive way. Needs-Payoff questions are simple, and should include such things as:

“Can you see how our products/services will help you (save money, save time, improve quality, etc)?” “What issues can our products/services resolve for your company that we have not discussed?” “How quickly can we begin working together in order to get your issues under control and turn your company in the right direction?”

Needs-Payoff is a component of finalizing the sale and closing. However, you may still be considering Implication questions at this point if you have not completely done your homework with your client.

Overall, SPIN methodology is one of the best sales processes available today to change the way your sales team does business with their clients. Motorola, Xerox, IBM, and other companies have testified in Rackham’s book, titled “SPIN”, that his methodology has made a huge difference in how their sales teams sell. In gaining a full understanding of your client’s “Situation”, “Problem”, “Implication”, and “Needs-Payoff”, your salespeople will develop long-term relationships with their clients, which will in turn drive larger revenue for your company in the long run.

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