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The Fundamentals of Spin Selling and Account Based Selling in Today’s Market with Richard Ruff [Episode 114]

Richard “Dick” Ruff, Ph.D. is the author of the book Mastering Major Account Selling. He also co-authored the book Managing Major Sales with Neil Rackham. Dick is a tops sales trainer and leading expert on major account selling. In this episode, Dick Ruff discusses how to utilize the fundamentals of account based selling.

What is SPIN Based Selling and why is it still being used?

SPIN based selling is fundamental, which is why it has not gone out of date. Sales reps have to have the skills to get on the other side of the table. You have to generally understand the scale and scope of the needs of your client. If you don’t have that, then you can’t propose a compelling solution. One of the core skills is the ability to ask questions. SPIN is a questioning model, not a sales process or strategy.

How does a company reinforce the training that has been taught to their sales reps?

Fundamentals are not easily acquired. You can’t just expect somebody to learn the methodology like SPIN, and all of a sudden the sales reps are going to walk out after two days of training, being highly skilled. That is not going to happen. Companies have to recognize that learning those types of fundamentals are not easy and the sales reps need to have substantial reinforcement on an ongoing basis. This means managers also need to have these skills so they can use reinforcement techniques. Companies still have to provide ongoing skill development if they want to have a superior salesforce.

The reasons why companies should spend time, effort, and money on training.

It’s not just a moral obligation. In today’s market, it is extremely difficult to win by product alone. Even if you have a superior product now, it is not going to last. Somebody else will corner the market and come out with something better, which takes half the time and for half the price. Don’t think of developing a salesforce as a humane thing to do, it makes business sense. It is an investment like any other investment with a possible huge pay off at the end.

Should companies set aside 15 to 20 min a day for sales reps to read?

Yes, getting someone to read can be done in a lot smarter fashion today. Of course, the readings need to be filtered to ensure that reps are reading the correct material. There is a lot of dysfunctional content out there, and companies need to have a structure in place to implement this to their sales reps.

What is a working definition of Account Based Selling (ABS) and why is there so much buzz about it today?

ABS at the fundamental level is not one size fits all. When it comes to selling, you need to treat each account separately. The core reason why there is buzz about it today is because in today’s market, companies are going through disruptive changes. These changes are driven by many factors, such as geography, global competition, and manufacturing technologies. This is forcing companies to change the way they are selling to stay competitive. Customers are changing how they buy, which means that businesses have to change how they are selling. Unfortunately, most companies don’t spend enough time genuinely understanding the buying process of their customer base.

Learn More About Richard Ruff:

What’s the most powerful sales tool in your arsenal?

Past references

Name the one tool or app you use for sales or sales management that you can’t live without.


Who’s your sales role model?

Neil Rackham

What’s the one book that every sales person should read?

SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham

What’s the one question you get asked most frequently by sales people?

How do I deal with the time pressures that I am under?

What’s the first sales activity you do every day?

Read what other people are writing about sales.