Posted by Jim Lyons JD, CPC on Aug 26, 2020

In this challenging market, I have found it necessary to get back to basics.
I started my sales career 37 years ago in B2B Financial Services. Specifically, selling big ticket life insurance products into the corporate executive benefits marketplace.

During this experience I was introduced to Neil Rackham’s SPIN Selling method. It was a 2-day immersion in a methodology that proved to be the framework of my sales success in life underwriting and later in executive search. In recent years,  I have used many elements of SPIN, but to be transparent I have relied more on my contacts and referrals in new business development. Well, today things have changed!!!!

The SPIN selling methodology is based on a sequence of questions, not predefined questions to be copied verbatim, but rather types of questions to be asked in a particular order. SPIN is defined as:

  • S-Situation, Establish your prospective client’s current situation. 

  • P-Problem, Identify the problems that your prospect is facing that your service offering solves.

  • I-Implication, Explore the causes and effects of those problems.

  • N- Need-Payoff, Show why your service is worth it.  

I can go on and on about SPIN, but I will let the reader decide. Plenty of SPIN Sales material available on the Internet.

Below please find actual SPIN questions I use in direct conversations with prospective clients. In addition, I am also doing some automated LinkedIn Inmail and email marketing utilizing SPIN. I am seeing some solid results.



Situational questions are in essence fact-finding questions. They should be investigative in nature and should lead to Problem Questions. Typical investigative questions should be centered on getting to know your prospect’s business. Hopefully, preliminary research will limit your time asking situational questions. The goal here is a smooth transition into your Problem Questions.

P-Problem Questions

  • Are you  not seeing top direct competitor candidates?
  • Are the your seeing too many unqualified candidates ?
  • Is your recruitment process too slow?
  • Are your candidate offers being rejected?
  • Are your recent hires not performing?
  • Are you dealing with too many recruitment organizations all sending the same candidates? 
  • Is your failure to meet your recruitment targets, hurting your overall growth goals?

I-Implication Questions

  • Are you frustrated because your see top candidates joining your direct competitors?
  • How much time have you wasted seeing unqualified candidates?
  • Is  your slow recruitment process, resulting in the loss of top candidates?
  • Are your rejected offers of employment  complicating your recruitment results?
  • Are your  poor performing hires disrupting your operation?
  • Do you feel you are losing the attention of your current recruitment vendors?
  • What happens if you do not meet your recruitment goals?

IDEAL RESULT: Each type of Situational, Problem and Implication question fulfills a crucial function in the sales process, all building towards the need-payoff questions which close the deal.

N-Need-Payoff Questions

  • Would the introduction of top direct competitor candidates be well received by your senior management?
  • Would you like to see how evidence- and behavioral-based candidate qualification ensures top quality hires?
  • Would a fact-based assessment on the total time-to-hire make sense? 
  • Would you like to have 95% of your offers accepted by top candidates?
  • Would you like to see how performance-based hiring can deliver to your company low-risk top executives?
  • Would you like the attention of strategic talent acquisition partner versus a transactional recruitment vendor?
  • Would you like to see how a top executive search firm partnership can you give you a competitive advantage in the marketplace?

I would like to encourage all readers to explore SPIN. It takes a little time to fine-tune the methodology. However, once you master the process you will be surprised how it can help open and close a new client.