Search Results for: pain

Be a Pain Seeking Missile

Sales calls sometimes get bogged down and go nowhere. Did you ever lose the thread of a conversation and end up having the conversation go in a direction that was not helping to move the pursuit along the way it should have? One way to combat that is to become a pain seeking missile. Just follow the pain where ever it leads, even if it seems like it is going nowhere. When you get to the real pain the prospect is more likely to act. Once you can get the prospect to open up and discuss what is really bothering them (at the deepest level) you will accomplish two things. First you will know what problem to work on solving and the prospect will more than likely move the ball forward. And second you will discover that you have a closer bond to the prospect. And the bonus is that if your missile fizzles without finding any pain, you can move on to a prospect who does.

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Look For Personal Pain

Salespeople who only focus on the problem the organization is having can miss the factor that is most likely to motivate the prospect to take action or to authorize purchase of your product or service.  Prospects are motivated by personal pain more than merely a problem that needs to be solved. Personal pain can be defined as how the prospect feels about the problem at hand. The first step is to understand the problem of course. the second step is to uncover how the problem affects the person you are talking to. but the most important step is to get the prospect to share with you how he or she feels about how the consequences of the problem affect their life. A company may be less efficient because of an outdated CRM. However consider two separate situations one in which the VP of Operations is focused on upgrading the manufacturing equipment and another in which the President has just informed him that the slow CRM is costing thousands of dollars in lost sales and told him his job is on the line if he doesn’t get it fixed. In which case does the CRM salesperson have a better chance of making sale? Yet most salespeople fail to uncover the real motivation and focus on show how good the CRM system will perform. The winner will be the one who gets to the real issue – the VP’s job security.

Pain Varies Over Time

detourThe world is a dynamic place and things change from day to day. Just think about your own company and your own life today compared to last quarter or last year. If your life and your perspective changes so much why would you think that the prospects life and perspective would be any different? When things change in the prospects life, their view of your product and the urgency to make a purchase will also change. When their situation changes, that change will have a major impact on whether you can close the sale and how and when you should close the sale. The fact that the situation can change mandates that you stay abreast of the latest developments. When you go in to make a presentation or have a follow up meeting, make sure that you verify that things haven’t changed dramatically since your last meeting before you proceed. You can read more about it here.

Top 3 reasons pain is NOT enough to make the sale


Many people say that if you know the prospect’s pain you can make a sale. That is not always true. In many cases the prospect has gotten used to the pain and therefore does not act. This can be frustrating to the salesperson who knows the prospect needs what she has and has an obvious problem with some major consequences but won’t act. Many times the inexperienced salesperson resorts to pressure which can cause the prospect to resist even more. You need to recognize that pain is a necessary but not always a sufficient reason to make a sale. Here are the top three reasons that jumping to the close from the pain discussion will not work.

  1. MONEY – The salesperson fails to discuss money with the prospect. The prospect may have a lot of pain but with no money available to address the problem, the sale is not completed. It is also possible that in this scenario the prospect suffers sticker shock when they see the price and sends them into a comparison shopping mode to check the validity of the price. This seldom ends well for the salesperson who first met the prospect.
  2. URGENCY – the prospect my have pain but no compelling reason to do it NOW. Without discussing a timeframe when the project needs to be done, the sale will drag on and may die of old age as the prospect eliminates the pain in some other way.
  3. AUTHORITY – Even though the prospect may have pain, they may lack the authority too do anything about it. This usually means that the salesperson started too low in the organization and may need to adjust their target client description.

Better is not up to us

What we think is better in a product is unimportant. What the prospect thinks is better is what counts in sales. Your product might be better in one respect and worse in another respect. For example, yours might have more “bells and whistles”. But, on the other hand, it requires more maintenance because of the added complexity. You might think the bells and whistles make your product better, but the prospect may value reduced maintenance costs and have no use for many of the extras you provide. So, while you think the product is better, the prospect doesn’t agree and may go to a competitor even if yours is cheaper. The solution is to focus on the prospect first and determine what they value. Or, in other words, discover their pain. Once you do that, you can focus your pitch on what they value and eliminate any mention of the other things even (and this is the hard part) if you are passionate about the cool features your product has that the prospect does not care about.

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Tell a Story

Stories are a great way to uncover pain and simultaneously explain what you do. But there is a formula so that you don’t bore the prospect or give too much away. Most sales people don’t tell third party stories during the pain step. They focus instead on asking questions and trying to uncover issues which can lead to pain. That is not a bad thing. But telling a story in the right way can really help the prospect to share the pain when they might be reluctant to do so under direct questioning. Stories have the added benefit of giving the prospect insight into how you work and the value of your service or product. But you have to tell the story correctly. When salespeople do tell stories, they tend to focus in excruciating detail on what they do and how they do it. If you do it that way, you will lose control of the call and end up giving away too much information without getting anything in return.

The best way to tell a story is to do it according to the formula 40-20-40. The first forty percent should describe the problem that a similar customer had. Describe the pain in some detail. The reason you do this is so that the prospect can identify with the example. The pain should be something that you suspect the prospect is experiencing. Then you describe, without much detail, what you did to address the problem. This should take up the next twenty percent of the time allotted for the story. Then finish the story with a description of the Utopian condition after you solved the problem. So, if the story length is 100 seconds, there would be 40 seconds on pain 20 seconds on what you did to fix it and then 40 seconds on Utopia. In general prospects can identify with the pain much better than they can identify and understand exactly what you do and how you do it. There is a time to explain that but the pain step is not the place.

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Beware of people who are interested

People are interested in things they have no intention of buying. Interest is only the first step in qualifying a prospect. You also need to determine if the prospect has pain and if there is any urgency to solve the pain. If you have all three of those elements you have a compelling reason to buy. Then of course you need the prospect to have enough money and there is the whole decision process that needs to be contended with. The real danger in prospects who are interested in your product or service (and eagerly tell you that early in the process) is that the salesperson gets excited and forgets all about the sales process. They think “Great, finally someone recognizes the value of my product”. Then, having abandoned the sales process, they begin talking. Before you know it, they have stopped listening and qualifying and have explained all the features and benefits of the product and extolled the virtues of working together. And when they finish and try to close they are surprised that they get put off or shut down all together. The lesson is to control your emotions. Do not get excited. Prospects are expert at manipulating you into giving them the information that they need without giving up too much on their side. Listen. Ask more questions. And totally qualify the prospect before you launch into a presentation or provide a quote. You will do much better that way. You can get excited when the check clears.

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Don’t listen to the Noise

Sales calls are often full of noise and you need to filter it out and not be distracted by it. I define noise as anything that distracts you from the goal of the sales call or is not helping to move the “ball” down the field. Sometimes the prospect will give you lots of irrelevant information about the project but is shies away from talking about his actual motivation for moving forward. In other words, at the end you know a lot about the project but no idea whether there is a compelling reason to move forward. In that case you were distracted by the noise. Sometimes prospects (and salespeople) talk about personal stuff to excess leaving no time to discuss the pain they are in and the decision process they need to go through to get the deal done. If that is the case, then, as important as bonding with the prospect is, you were distracted by the noise (personal information or sports stories) on this sales call. There are many other examples such as excessive detailed information which is irrelevant to the sales process but I think you get the idea. You need to listen through the noise to pick out the pain indicators or other hooks to get the conversation back on track and moving toward achieving the goal of the sales call.

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Value is not related to price

Just because the price of a product is lower it does not necessarily mean that the value is greater. If a car has 4-wheel drive, a sun roof and real leather seats it probably costs more than the identical car without those extras. The car salesman might claim that the vehicle with the extras has added value because of the extras, especially since he is throwing them into the deal at 50% of their normal cost. However, if I am a car buyer who hates sun roofs (It messes with my hair and I try to avoid the sun. Besides they leak.), I live in Florida where it never snows and I never drive off road, and I am a member of PETA (people for the ethical treatment of animals), those extras have no value to me. They might actually act as a deterrent to my purchasing that vehicle. Admittedly, I chose an extreme example. But I think you get the idea. If I am using the car every day to commute, I may care more about gas mileage than prestige or load capacity. In that case, a car with higher gas mileage may be a better value even though it costs more because it solves my pain. So, focus your efforts on finding and solving the pain rather than on sharpening your pencil to give them a better price.

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