The S.P.I.N. Selling Fieldbook: Practical Tools, Methods, Exercises and Resources / Edition 1

The S.P.I.N. Selling Fieldbook: Practical Tools, Methods, Exercises and Resources / Edition 1

by Neil Rackham
Pub. Date:
McGraw Hill LLC
Pub. Date:
McGraw Hill LLC
The S.P.I.N. Selling Fieldbook: Practical Tools, Methods, Exercises and Resources / Edition 1

The S.P.I.N. Selling Fieldbook: Practical Tools, Methods, Exercises and Resources / Edition 1

by Neil Rackham
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Put into practice today's winning strategy for achieving success in high-end sales!

The SPIN Selling Fieldbook is your guide to the method that has revolutionized big-ticket sales in the United States and globally. It's the method being used by one-half of all Fortune 500 companies to train their sales forces, and here's the interactive, hands-on field book that provides the practical tools you need to put this revolutionary method into action­­immediately. The SPIN Selling Fieldbook includes:

  • Individual diagnostic exercises
  • Illustrative case studies from leading companies
  • Practical planning suggestions
  • Provocative questionnaires
  • Practice sessions to prepare you for dealing with challenging selling situations

Written by the pioneering author of the original bestseller, SPIN Selling, this book is aimed at making implementation easy for companies that have not yet established SPIN techniques. It will also enable companies that are already using the method to reinforce SPIN methods in the field and in coaching sessions.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780070522350
Publisher: McGraw Hill LLC
Publication date: 06/01/1996
Edition description: List
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 627,034
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

NEIL RACKHAM is founder and former president of Huthwaite, Inc. Huthwaite researches, consults, and provides seminars for over 200 leading sales organizations around the world, including Xerox, IBM, and Citicorp. His academic background is in research psychology. It was at the University of Sheffield, England, that he began his research into sales effectiveness that resulted in SPIN. Mr. Rackham is the author of more than 50 articles and several books.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Using the SPIN® Fieldbook


I grew up in the jungles of Borneo in what's now Eastern Malaysia. My father was setting up schools in rural areas where education was unknown. I remember going up river with him to a newly opened country school to deliver notebooks for the students to write in. When we came back a month later, there, untouched on the teacher's table, were the notebooks we had left. The teacher explained to us, "These books are much too nice to spoil with children's scribbles. I shall wait until they grow up and leave school. Then I'll give them the notebooks." It sounded logical enough to an 8-year-old like me. Books weren't meant to be written in -- or, if they were, they should be reserved for important and organized thoughts.

Why a "Fieldbook"?

Obviously, I'd never heard of a Fieldbook like the one you're reading now. This is not a book for leaving on the teacher's table until you have the skills. It's designed for you to use actively as you read it. That means it needs to be scribbled in. The words you read are, at best, 10 percent of the value from this book. It's what you write that counts. The Fieldbook is full of what we call "exercises." These are tools, tests, and frameworks to help you sell more successfully. Try them. Really try them. Just looking at the exercises will not help you sell better. However carefully you read each exercise, it's not until you write your responses that you begin to reap the value of this Fieldbook. Writing your answers to the Fieldbook exercises is importantin two ways:
  1. Translation
    Many of the exercises are designed to help you translate general concepts into the specifics of your own situation. From interviews with hundreds of the salespeople we've trained, clearly one of the hidden barriers that gets in the way of putting new selling ideas into action is this issue of translation. It's easy for smart salespeople to understand fundamental concepts, like the ones we describe in this fieldbook, on a purely intellectual level. The tough thing is seeing how these concepts actually work when it comes to selling your own products or services. The first step in putting the ideas you'll read here into action is to build a bridge between the concepts in this book and your own selling situation. That's what we mean by "translation." It's the process of taking general ideas and transforming them into specific actions that relate to your products and your customers. Translating concepts into tangible actions is an important step to improving your selling. Working through the exercises in this Fieldbook and writing down your answers will help you with the translation process.

  2. Planning
    A consistent finding about successful salespeople is that they put effort into planning. Ninety-nine percent perspiration and 1 percent inspiration is the way that Thomas Edison described genius, but he could equally have been talking about selling. The myth that great salespeople work by pure inspiration is just that -- a myth unsupported by the evidence. Good selling depends on good planning more than any other single factor. Because of that we've included dozens of planning exercises throughout the Fieldbook. Even if it sometimes feels repetitious, work through these planning exercises. Remember that effective planning takes you more than half way to effective execution. Think of these planning exercises as a dry run for real selling. We can't be out on calls with you. We can't help you once you are face-to-face with that important client or customer. But we can help you to plan. Many of the significant improvements in selling that have been attributed to the SPIN® model have come from better and more systematic planning.

The SPIN® Model

You should ask two sets of questions before you invest time in anything -- including this Fieldbook -- that claims to help you sell better. The questions are:

What will this teach me?
What ideas, concepts, frameworks, or models are being recommended?
How do I know these will work in my kind of sale?

How will this teach me?
What methods are used to communicate the idea or models?
Are these methods practical and realistic enough to help me sell better ideas?

We've started to answer the second question already. This Fieldbook is designed as a series of practical exercises to help you translate the ideas into plans for action. We've taken an approach based on actual experience helping thousands of salespeople, and so the methods here have been reality-tested. But how about the first question: what will this teach you? What are the underlying ideas that we're communicating? Where do they come from? How do you know that they will work? The underlying theory of successful selling that we're teaching in this book is based on something called the SPIN® model.

You'll read more about this model in the next chapter. In case you haven't met the SPIN® model before, here is a brief introduction:

  • It's a set of ideas about how to sell successfully in large or complex sales.
  • It's based on the most extensive research ever carried out about effective selling.
  • More than half the Fortune 100 use it to train their sales forces.
  • You'll find it described in detail in the best seller SPIN® Selling (Rackham, McGraw-Hill, 1988).

Getting the Most from This Fieldbook

As we've said, this is a book of exercises. So you'll get the most from what you write, not from what you read. If you follow the advice we give here, complete the exercises, and put them into practice in your own selling, there's a high probability that you'll get a measurable improvement in your sales. We say this based on the experience of the first thousand salespeople we trained to use the SPIN® skills. When their results were compared with a matched control group of untrained people, they showed an average increase in sales volume of 17 percent.

Will you get a 17 percent improvement? Unfortunately, that's an unanswerable question. It's like saying that a group of a thousand people lost an average of 17 pounds by going on an exercise and diet program. It shows that the program brings results, but it doesn't necessarily mean that you would automatically lose 17 pounds if you went on the same diet. How well such a program would work for you would depend on your present weight, your present dietary and exercise habits, your determination, and even your genetic makeup. You might lose 30 pounds or you might even gain some. The same is true of using these exercises to improve your selling. Your improvement will depend on your present level of selling skills, how adaptable you are to changing your selling habits, and -- above all -- on your willingness to learn. And, like diet and exercise programs, it will also depend on whether you adopt a systematic and sensible strategy for change. We know, for example, that the crash dieter who starves will almost certainly be less successful than the person who takes things at a slower pace and loses weight gradually. Exactly the same is true when it comes to changing your selling habits. If you try to read this book in a single day and then apply all its lessons in your next sales call, you'll be just like the crash dieter. You'll have tried to change too fast and you'll probably fail.

So, if you shouldn't take this book like a crash diet, how should you use it in order to get the most value? Here are four suggestions:

  1. More Haste, Less Speed
    Take it at a moderate pace. A Fieldbook shouldn't be like a novel that you can't put down because you want to know how the story turned out. We can tell you the punch line right now. It's this: by systematically working through these exercises, you can improve your selling. You don't have to speed through to the end of the book to get the message. Instead, once you've read the introductory chapters that give you an overview of the SPIN® model, slow down. Read one chapter at a sitting. Complete the exercises, try the ideas. Don't hurry through the book.

  2. Stick to the Fundamentals
    Like most instructional books, this one gets more complex as it goes on. The early chapters may seem basic. It's easy to dismiss these basic skills as elementary and to skip to the more exciting material later in the book. If you do this, you'll be shortchanging yourself. The early chapters are not elementary; they are fundamental scales. And that's very different. High performers everywhere, whether in sports, the arts, or selling continue practicing the fundamentals. A professional golfer doesn't stop working on basic putting, a master pianist still practices scales, and top salespeople continue to work at honing their fundamental selling skills. Believe me -- I've worked with many of the world's top salespeople and I know.

    I first had this lesson taught to me twenty years ago when I had the opportunity to go through a sales training class with a group of top performers from Xerox. At one point in the class there was an opportunity for participants to choose any skill they wanted to practice further. I'd seen less tenured Xerox people go through the same class, and they usually chose to practice one of the "advanced" skills taught on the program, such as price negotiation. So I was surprised that most of the top performers instead chose "basic" skills, like questioning. I wouldn't be surprised now that I've worked with so many world-class salespeople. They don't neglect the fundamentals and neither should you.

  3. Alternate Theory with Practice
    When you've finished a chapter and tried its exercises, spend a few days putting the concepts into practice in some real sales calls. The book SPIN® Selling contains a chapter "Turning Theory into Practice." Among the advice it offers is that nothing feels natural the first time you try it. Consequently, you should try any new idea that could help your selling at least three times before you decide whether it is working. So we would recommend that, after reading a chapter, you try out its ideas several times before going on to the next chapter. In that way, you'll give these ideas the best chance to add real value to your selling. Alternating each new chapter with plenty of tryout opportunities is a smart learning strategy.

  4. Repractice Your Weak Spots
    As you work through the book you'll find some areas that seem very natural to you and others that give you difficulty. Keep coming back to the difficult areas. If you find any area tough, leave it alone for a few weeks and then revisit it. Often these tough areas are where people with sufficient persistence make breakthroughs that dramatically change their sales results. There's an element of "no pain, no gain" at work here. The harder it is to develop a skill, the more valuable it may turn out to be.

The purpose of this Fieldbook is to help you learn and apply the SPIN® concepts and skills, both in your office and out "in the field." Our intent is for you to be able to use the Fieldbook exercises, tools, and the plans you develop -- out there where they matter, on actual sales calls with your clients and customers. But enough introduction. This is a practical book and we haven't yet met a single exercise. We'll set that right in the chapters that follow.

Table of Contents

This Book.The SPIN Model.Check It Out.Putting Spin in Context.Putting Spin to Work.Buyer Needs.Situation Questions.Problem Questions.Implication Questions.Need-Payoff Questions.Demonstrating Capability.Increasing Your Impact.Putting It All Together.Beyond Spin.Forms and Other Tools.
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