Situation Questions – Spin Selling

Author avatar wrote on 08/08/2018

Situation Questions – Spin Selling

Questions seeking facts are called Situation Questions. They are necessary. They help uncover a context for uncovering buyer problems. You need some facts in order to be able to put forward a reasonable solution / proposal to your prospect. 


However, let me ask you a question: “Who benefits more from these situation questions, you or the buyer?” That’s right, situation questions are of more benefit to the seller and not the buyer. And here is some more interesting information gathered during the SPIN Selling research.


The more situation questions in a call, the less likely that call was to succeed.

Most salespeople ask a lot more situation questions than they realized.


So, while it is true that most buyers would rather talk about themselves or their business than listen to a sales pitch the research has shown that the more senior the buyer, the less they like answering factual questions.


And I think this is quite understandable. If you walk into a sales call with no knowledge about the business of your prospect you are showing a lack of respect. You are wasting their time getting them to give you information that you should already have. And if this was important back in the 1980s it is even more important now in 2010. So, this implies that successful sellers ask fewer Situation Questions because they do their homework. I have often been told in the past that Good selling = good planning.


To quote “SPIN Selling” …effective planning takes you more than half way to effective execution”

Apart from doing your homework to minimize Situation Questions and planning the situation questions you are going to ask before you meet your prospect you need to focus on the key information that you need. I was taught to ask targeted questions.


(Note this is from me and apart from the SPIN model)

Let me give you an example of targeted questioning.

Let’s look at an example of a real estate sales person and see the difference between targeted and untargeted questions.

I have seen a real estate sales person ask questions like the following:

“Do you have a deposit?

How much does each of you earn a month?

What other loan commitments do you have to pay?

What are your average monthly expenses apart from the loans we just mentioned?”

Now, from the perspective of the real estate sales person what does he want to know?


He wants to know how much these people can afford to pay on a mortgage, right? Well, he should ask that question and not all the others. A targeted question would be: “How much can you afford in monthly repayments on a house?” The way you formulate targeted questions when you are planning is to look at each question you are going to ask and just ask yourself the question, “What do I really want to know when I ask this question?” and then examine whether the answer to this question gives you the information you want.


SPIN Selling goes into the planning of Situation Questions and also the phrasing of Situation Questions so that they “help the buyer see you as a problem solver rather than a prosecutor.” The right Situation Questions can lead smoothly and naturally into discussion about your prospect’s problems. The book even goes into “Low Risk” and “High Risk” questions to ask and the appropriate times to ask them. So, SPIN Selling states that sellers need to ask more questions but asking too many situation questions reduces your chances of sales success. Conversely, the more of the other types of questions asked during a sales call the more likely a sale will be made.

Read about Need-Payoff Questions – Spin Selling




Summary by Greg Woodly

You can get or read more about the book( SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham) here

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