All businesses need customers who are confident that they made the right decision to buy. When prospects feel that they bought under pressure, they often cancel their orders.

To mitigate this risk, salespeople should work in partnership with their prospects to lead them to the right decision for their organization, regardless of whether or not that means a sale. The focus becomes the customer’s needs, and your ability to provide a solution for their needs makes you a trusted partner.

Neil Rackham’s bestseller SPIN Selling provides an excellent framework for developing the consultative sales process in any organization. Based on research of over 35,000 sales calls, this methodology is based on the most research ever conducted on the sales process.

At its core, SPIN selling is all about converting implicit needs into explicit needs. Implicit needs are statements of problems, dissatisfactions, and difficulties. Explicit needs are specific customer wants and desires. It is the satisfaction of explicit needs that leads to a successful sales call. The goal of SPIN selling is to convert surface-level implicit needs into deeply rooted explicit needs.

To convert implicit needs into explicit needs, Rackham suggests using the SPIN framework, which is an acronym for:

Situation – questions designed to gather facts
Problem – questions to identify challenges
Implication – exploring the impact of problems
Need-Payoff – discussing the value of a solution

In order to effectively use the SPIN Selling methodology, salespeople must further develop their active listening skills. Most salespeople are great talkers, but the exceptional star sellers tend to be even better listeners. Consult the following table to ensure that you are an active listener and ultimately, a master at consultative selling:

Strong Listeners/Weak Listeners

Open Body Posture/Closed Body Posture
Leans Forward/Leans Back
Interrupts to Understand/Interrupts to Speak
Maintains Eye Contact/Looks Around
Nods & Acknowledges/No Interaction
Sits Still and Relaxed/Fidgets and Acts Restless
Restates and Paraphrases/Talks Over
Takes Detailed Notes/Doesn’t Take Notes
Asks Great Questions/Doesn’t Ask Questions

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