SPIN is dead, social selling more popular than ever

The post "SPIN is dead, social selling more popular than ever" was originally published at Medium's Marketing & Growth Hacking publication: https://blog.markgrowth.com/https-medium-com-lainetom-spin-is-dead-176739b83350


In the mid 2000s I was working for Oracle as a Channel Manager, and one of the first things I was taught, was the SPIN sales technique. Which now is just about dead and gone!

SPIN is a sales technique especially tailored for B2B sales, and is based on question types that can be used when calling or meeting a client. SPIN is an acronym, that stands for Situation, Problem, Implicated need and Need pay-off questions, that forward the conversation towards closing the sales.

SPIN is one of the most used sales techniques around the world, but the world has changed significantly in the past few years, and the time has done major damage to SPIN.


 Do You suck in sales?

Just recently I was engaged in a conversation in Facebook about social selling, when an old friend of mine asked me why the big fuzz about social selling now, since I’ve been doing it for 20+ years already? To some, social selling comes naturally, and may not even be a systematic, planned way of working, just a natural way of conversing and creating content (online).

To me, Linkedin has been a natural tool to use in sales since 2004, thus the fuzz about social selling has been somewhat surprising. Why now?

Benefits of using social media and content marketing have become clear to many in practice, and now also studies prove that the social way of working has gained significant momentum.


 “According to Linkedin’s research, up to 90% of decision makers never answer a cold call.”

75% of B2B buyers use social media as part of their decision making process, and according to HBR, up to 80% of buyers don’t believe that sales people understand their business.

The last statistic is the most interesting one, and pretty much proves that SPIN is dead!



“Up to 80% of buyers don’t believe that sales people understand their business”


Why don’t buyers believe that sales people understand their business?

The SPIN-type discussion starting questions like “Can you tell me about your system setup?”, “What tools do you use to …?”, “Who are your customers?”, or “Can you tell me about your normal work day?” all really prove that the sales person hasn’t done his/her homework and researched the customer, they don’t understand the business case, or that they don’t really know who they are talking to!

In other words, SPIN questions especially at the Situation and Problem question levels make the seller look bad! It looks like they haven’t prepared for the call or meeting properly.

Personal branding often comes to play as part of the sales process especially in B2B specialist service sales. The seller must prove by concrete actions and content that they understand the client’s business, that they can offer fit for purpose solutions, provide personal insight, and treat their clients all as individuals.

“Too often sales people don’t deliver personalized experiences at the level the customer expects.”


A modern sales person must be able to provide concrete information to support the purchasing process at all levels, while the buyers are becoming more and more used to taking the process closer to sale by themselves, researching potential solutions and other information online without talking to the seller until the decision is just about made.

According to Linkedin’s research, up to 92% of buyers are more likely to engage with a sales person with strong professional brand when making purchasing decisions. (For more statistics and how to use Linkedin for social selling, read the ABC of Social Selling with Linkedin).

Rather than talking about sales processes having evolved, we should be talking about purchasing processes evolving to certain direction.

It’s not so much about what the sales people have started doing, but how the buyers are behaving and using the search engines, social media and interwebs at large to support the purchasing process… and sales has had to adapt to it!

“92% of B2B buyers start their search for solution to their problem online.”


The discussion openers should be more like “I saw your post at… saying you are having a situation with…”, “I noticed you have thought about…” or “Your colleague said you are looking for…” kind of commentary, implying that the sales person knows enough about the person, company, situation or business, that they can offer fit for purpose solutions, they understand the processes, needs or setup, and can provide concrete help or support. Talking about cold vs. warm leads!

Are You still using SPIN?