How we used the SPIN method to attract customers to the Skolkovo company

    Once our friends asked for help in promoting and selling for their company. They were engaged in research in the field of laser technology, and at that time they were already residents of Skolkovo. True, the question of the applicability of their developments in real production was still open.

    By a fortunate coincidence, for the purposes of self-development, he studied and worked out methods of large sales according to Neil Rackham 's book “SPIN Model” .

    And it was difficult to come up with a more suitable product, such as engineering services in the field of quality control. We took up this project.

    And this is what we got (I will quote some of the principles described in the book, and how they were implemented in our country)

    1. Identification of customer problems

    When it comes to selling (especially large), you first need to hear the customer and understand what exactly he needs, what hidden and obvious needs he has. It sounds, of course, as “captain evidence”, but it really is.

    Therefore, according to Neil, it is not necessary to ask the client how long his company in the market, what they do and other "husk" - much better to move on to the point and ask one specific question: "What you have problems in ..."

    Speaking more scientific language, it is necessary to ask less "situational", and more "problematic" questions.

    In our case, we just started calling the plants in the quality department (or in the metrology department) with a script like this:

    "Good afternoon! My name is Sergey, company ..., We are engaged in technical and technological solutions in the field of linear and angular metrology, quality control of geometric parameters at various stages of production: incoming, outgoing and processing control.
    For our solutions we use the equipment of world leaders: Nikon Metrology, Aberlink, Hexagon Metrology and our software.
    I wanted to ask if you have tasks to control the quality of geometric parameters? ”

    To our surprise, after such a brief introduction, many began to willingly and in great detail talk about their problems and tasks. Where are their weak points, where they lose money, and what I would like to solve.

    Of course, not everyone was so eager to engage in dialogue, and the tasks were sometimes inadequate, such as "I want everything to work, we did not need to learn anything, you did it in a week and it cost free."

    Nevertheless, among a large array of tasks, we highlighted a really interesting one - about which the largest pipe plants in Russia spoke. Measurement of the inner surface of the couplings, and in particular the internal thread.

    We decided that we need to dive deeper into this problem.

    2. The development of the problem, the formation of a clear need

    The second stage according to the SPIN technique is the development of the client’s needs from “hidden” to “explicit” . The main mistake in large sales, according to Neil, is to propose a solution ahead of time, when the client does not fully understand the problem, when he does not understand how much money he loses on this, what associated costs arise, etc. Extractive questions are

    used to develop needs . We went to the factories personally. And they began to thoroughly “pry” metrologists, technologists and economists. They began to ask: “Why do you want to solve this problem? What you are not satisfied with the existing methods of control? " . We learned that the existing method has several disadvantages:

    • does not measure all parameters that are prescribed in GOST;
    • not entirely objective as the measuring instruments wear out;
    • to measure non-standard products, it is possible to do only lengthy sampling in a special laboratory, etc.

    Nothing fatal, at first glance, but when they began to develop the problem and find out how these problems affect more significant indicators : the percentage of rejects at work, labor productivity, customer returns due to complaints, it turned out that the problem is much more serious than it initially seemed.

    To be honest, when the client answered these questions, he himself became somewhat annoyed and didn’t very willingly share the numerical data, and got to the point of asking openly: “Well, can you offer something or not!”

    This indicated that that the client really became aware of the problem more deeply. But proposing a solution was still too early.

    (Of course, it’s not very good when the client becomes negative when communicating with you, but this reaction was predictable. Neil warned in his book that these questions should be used politely and carefully, and not go too far).

    We ended the meeting with the client at this stage, and promised to prepare a solution concept in the near future.

    3. Determining the value of solving a problem

    Acting according to the “SPIN” methodology, the next step was to form a “ solution value ” for the client . That is, the understanding that the investment that will be associated with the introduction of new equipment will pay off quickly and repeatedly .

    Since we had some data on the impact of this problem on the performance of the plant, we compiled a small financial model for domestic needs in order to understand how much the problem has.

    According to the most conservative estimates, we calculated that the client loses about 60 million a year . It is clear that we are not financial analysts, and the model is very approximately composed. But this gave an additional reason that we are moving in the right direction.

    We began to formulate a solution concept:
    They called the client a lot and asked “guiding” questions:
    • What aspects of the problem would you like to solve in the first place?
    • will it somehow affect labor productivity?
    • if you implement a solution, will it help reduce the percentage of defective products?
    • Do you intend to use the equipment primarily for the laboratory, or for workshop conditions?
    • what else would you like to use the equipment for?

    And we found out some more interesting points : it turns out that if they get a solution with the given parameters, in addition to product control tasks, they will be able to perform reverse engineering functions, that is, take imported products, scan them, quickly prepare technical documentation and launch a new product of their own production.

    And in the wake of sanctions and import substitution, this will allow them to occupy a significant share of the free market.

    That is, we, and most importantly, the client began to understand that the price of the solution that we offer is much lower than the benefits that this solution can bring.

    4. Submission of technical and commercial offers and commitment

    There’s practically nothing to write about the last stage. Although he took a considerable time. Realizing the need for solutions, the client actively participated in the formation of those. assignments, preparation of the contract, tender conditions, preliminary tests, etc.

    In the language of the industrial equipment market, this means pre-order.

    Most interesting, since this market is rather narrow and “everyone knows everyone”, after our talk about this decision with the three largest plants, the rumor reached other market participants. They began to look for such solutions on the Internet, and, of course, stumbled upon our advertising company in direct - and turned to us.

    So, having spent 2000 rubles on direct, we received 8 pre-orders with a cost of 5 to 15 million each, one of them almost immediately ended in a contract (the task was easier there, and our friends could immediately make a decision)
    And not everyone can brag about it ... Although, of course, it's not about direct.

    PS The post-history of this project.

    In no case do not pretend to be big experts in the field of SPIN sales methods, I am sure that we did not use 10% of the possibilities of this approach. But even this gave a tangible result.

    Now friends, for whom we did this, are actively developing the product, attracted significant investments for implementation, and, I believe, will soon make a decision for these plants.

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