First published in 1988, SPIN Selling quickly became one of the most foundational books on sales theory of all time. Over the course of 12 years, researcher Neil Rackham and his company, Huthwaite, examined over 35,000 sales transactions throughout 27 countries, evaluating them on 116 factors. He began his research fully expecting that it would confirm the bulk of the traditional sales theory, but he was startled to find that the data painted a very different picture.
Up to that point, much of the prevailing sales theory failed to differentiate between methods that work for small and larger sales, assuming a one-size-fits-all approach was effective regardless of the size or length of the sales cycle. What Rackham quickly discovered, however, was that while traditional methods typically worked well for small sales, many of those methods were actually detrimental in larger sales.
Rackham defines small sales as those that have a low dollar value and are typically completed in a single call, while larger sales have higher dollar values and can take weeks or months to close. After observing that the methods traditionally used to close small sales — heavy use of closing techniques, emphasis on creating objections, emphasis on product features — failed to work in large sales, Rackham set out to discover what did work, and he called the new theory he developed the SPIN method.