SPIN selling, Solution selling and the many other flavours of consultative selling are very powerful when used as intended. They are ways of being able to help both prospect and sales person to think through the problem at hand, discover the underlying factors and together arrive at some conclusions. The sales person can then make an informed proposal as to the remedy to the problem.

When used correctly, the approach can be invaluable for the prospect as it helps them to gain clarity, perspective and focus. They will actually value spending time with a sales person who helps them in this way. Too often, though, sales people use such techniques as ways to channel the prospect towards a pre-defined solution. It would be just like going into a doctor and saying “I have a fever” and the doctor replying “I know just what you need!! I had some one in here with a fever just 5 minutes ago and I gave them aspirin. Here, let me write you out a prescription now and save us all the bother!!”

Doctors know the difference between symptoms and causes. A fever can be produced by a number of medical conditions, some life threatening. They know that they need to undertake a thorough investigation before making a diagnosis and then prescribe a course of action.

When selling, be careful to use experience as a guide to unearthing the underlying causes of a problem rather than a short cut to a pre-defined solution. Imagine that you are a doctor and risk legal action for making the wrong prescription.