Listen for the Human Problems

Personal pain is the most powerful motivator in sales. Yes, it is possible to make sales based solely on the problems the company is experiencing. I call this corporate “pain”. These are issues like lack of efficiency, not enough sales, too much waste, air chillers on their last legs, leaky valves, etc. Good salespeople know enough to explore those further to discover another level of pain. Such as, lack of efficiency is causing waste in the product stream, which leads to higher cost and hence lost profit or worse, lost sales. Or, not enough top line growth is putting pressure on the stock price and profitability of the company. However, the optimal salesperson focuses on connecting the business problem to a human problem. The human problem ideally will cause pain in the people who make the decision. In the example of low efficiency leading to lost sales, the optimal salesperson will not stop there. She will ask questions to determine how this will affect the person who has the authority to make the decision to buy her product. She might discover that the VP of operations is worried that he might be replaced if he doesn’t correct the problem. Or the new VP of operations might view this situation as a chance to prove to management that they made the right decision to hire him to run the plant. Or maybe his bonus depends on reducing waste. Notice that if these are all personal emotional connections to the business problem. The salesperson who uncovers these motivators will have discovered truly compelling reasons for the project to move forward. An added bonus is that the prospect will be more bonded to the salesperson with whom he shares these emotions and be more likely to share others. The relationship will deepen and the probability of winning the business at the right price will be dramatically increased.

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