The Perennially Awesome SPIN Selling Book (OR The Art of Asking Value-Centered Questions)

Value Selling Business Software


Thousands of software projects aren't attempted and opportunities for astounding returns are lost because the value isn't compelling to decision makers. A weak business case is often the culprit.

If you're experienced at selling software, you might have seen the client's problem before. You might already know the right answer. You can probably list all the benefits your product can generate.

But when you charge down the road, you meet doubt, objections, and disbelief of the proof you offer to support your claims. It's all because you aren't value selling.

What Does the Customer Really Need?

What does it take to build a rock-solid, comprehensive business case that drives value realization across the business?

In my experience, value selling from the very start greatly improves the chance that promised benefits will materialize, business drivers are enabled, and stakeholder buy-in is secured. And the way to do that when selling software is to ask questions that develop explicit needs and benefits.

Here's how:

  • Go beyond trying to solve the first problem you uncover and explore the further business implications on cost, speed, revenue, quality, employee retention, or customer satisfaction.
  • In Lean or Six Sigma terms, look for waste or non-value added cost/effort for which the client isn't reimbursed and can't pass on to consumers.
  • When you find a problem with broad implications that the client expresses a desire to solve, introduce the specific features of your product.
  • Ask how your product features might help resolve the implications and to what degree. The answers are the foundation of your business case.

Not sure how to set up these questions? Review our SPIN Selling primer for learning how to run client interviews to enable value-based selling.

Tell Them EXACTLY What They Will Get

After collecting your interview data, organize it into Value Sequence Statements:

The company will reach a Goal by resolving an Operational Roadblock using a Software Capability generating Business Value.

For example:

The Company will increase quotation speed and accuracy (Goal) by eliminating retyping errors and delays (Operational Roadblock) using integrated workflow, product, and costing data (Software Capability) generating $250,000 new business. (Business Value)

When selling software, you can write the sequence starting with any line you choose... just be careful to keep the logic tied together to bolster your value-based selling efforts.

The more Value Sequence Statements you help the client develop, the more likely it is that benefits will be realized, people will be responsible for achieving them, and the business case will be accepted.

That's how value selling generates a rock-solid, software business case.

How do you frame the purchase of your product as the customer's best option? Where do you run into objections? What results could you generate by tying your technology to realizable business benefits?

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