A new spin on salesOn 1 Apr 2000 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article JacquieAndrews, senior training consultant at Zurich Financial Services, on aprogramme that helps sales people face complex selling situationsIhave always believed that as well as developing practical tools, sales trainingneeds to offer a strategic framework.Theproducts we offer in Zurich’s general business unit range from insurance torisk-management solutions which are sold across a variety of industry sectorssuch as electronics, pharmaceuticals and food. We also offer building, contentsand motor insurance to private individuals, so our sales people need the skillsto work with brokers and intermediaries, as well as directly with customers.Ihave been a training consultant in the corporate training team at Zurich forfive years. I first worked with Huthwaite in 1995. Zurich had recently reviewedits capability to deliver sales results and the training department was askedto provide comprehensive skill development programmes that would help people todeal successfully with complex sales situations.RobustnessWhatimpressed me about Huthwaite’s SPIN Selling Skills programme was itsrobustness, the fact that it is based on a body of research built up over 25years using behaviour analysis (BA), an approach pioneered by Huthwaite. Itconsists of 35,000 observations of commercial transactions, analysing whatsuccessful people do differently which make them successful. This informationwas used to develop the training models for SPIN Selling Skills and AccountStrategy for Major Sales.InitiallyI was involved with the SPIN Selling Skills programmes as a delegate and thenas a trainer. SPIN itself is an acronym for the four types of questions whicheffective sales people ask and which lead to a consultative approach. Theunderlying philosophy is for sellers to “think buyer” and help them tounderstand their needs and potential solutions.SituationQuestions ask about the customer’s operating context and business situation.Who are the current carriers of the business? Who else is involved in thisdecision?ProblemQuestions ask about the customer’s difficulties, dissatisfactions or problemswith the existing situation. What difficulties have you experienced with yourcurrent arrangements? How satisfied are you with the levels of service youreceive from your current carrier?ImplicationQuestions ask about the consequences, effects or implications of the customer’sproblems. Which areas of the business are most affected when the service levelsdrop in this way? How would that affect your reputation?Need-PayoffQuestions probe for explicit needs, either directly or by exploring the payoffor importance to the customer of solving a problem. Would a faster underwritingdecision reduce backlogs? How would a more efficient claims service help? Wouldx also produce savings with y?Overthe years I have worked with a Huthwaite consultant on both the delivery andcustomisation of their materials to match the varied and complex sellingsituations we face. The role plays enable us to benchmark existing skills andclearly highlight areas for an individual’s development.SPINSelling Skills normally consists of a three-day programme followed up withwork-based reinforcement.Oneexample of where the training has really shown its worth is with the specialistpublic sector insurance division – Zurich Municipal (ZM), the market leader. Acouple of years ago, a large percentage of ZM’s business was under attack as aresult of various changes in their target market sectors. The sales team builton the skills they had developed through SPIN Selling by attending AccountStrategy for Major Sales. The aim of the ASMS training was to equip thebusiness teams with the tools and framework to help them plan and execute salesstrategies for both existing and new customers.Theresults of the training have been impressive. My colleague, Clive Moulson, oursales manager at ZM, says there is no doubt in his mind that the traininghelped his team build the trust and confidence of many existing customers.BuildingtrustAlthoughZM is in a crowded and competitive marketplace, its enhanced ability tocommunicate the value of its proposition has helped it make it’s case strongly,and build trust among the client base. Specifically, Clive believes thetraining helped the ZM Business Team to secure a proportion of the new housingassociation business when it became available for tender in 1998. Hebelieves his staff saw more clearly how to identify and influence thecustomer’s decision-making process and that the training helped them convincethe housing associations of ZM’s high service standards and the value of theseto them.Morerecently, the merger of Eagle Star and Zurich salespeople has demonstrated thatSPIN Selling is a good tool not only for introducing strategic sellingtechniques, but an effective way of creating a new shared culture and languageamong the larger team.Acolleague and I are both accredited by Huthwaite to deliver SPIN Selling Skillsand co-deliver ASMS at Zurich. Being accredited has enabled me to contribute tothe training not only through its delivery but also the customisation of theprogramme content.Iget a lot of personal satisfaction from developing the relationship and seeingthe results. Now, Zurich is considering Huthwaite’s Account Strategy for MajorSales as a tool for its people across the globe.VerdictEffectiveway to learn sales skillsSPINSelling Skills develops the skills and provides a framework for salespeople towork individually and together to achieve successful outcomes. It has beenrelevant for a number of our business units involved in a range of salesenvironments.Akey feature is the focus on customised role-plays which reflect the genuinesituations that participants are dealing with in their real business lives. It makesthe training relevant as well as practical.Anumber of our business units have benefited from the training and the resultscan be seen not only in the value of sales, but also the strength and durationof customer relationships.Iwould recommend the programme for any salespeople who are involved in sellingservices or goods, or supporting the sales process. Atone level SPIN is effective for people who are new to sales, but it alsoprovides experienced managers with ways of developing their skills. SPIN’sconsultative approach is especially effective for build-ing strongrelationships based on understanding customer needs and how to meet them. SPINhas a good success rate where sales are direct to the customer – we have foundit is just as effective where the sale is via intermediary channels such asbrokers.SPIN®Selling Skills programmeDelivered by Huthwaite International Group, Hoober House, Wentworth, Rotherham,South Yorkshire S62 7SA, Tel: 01709 710081 Email: [email protected] http://www.huthwaite.co.uk/ Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.