Searching For Your Prospect’s Pain Can Limit You!

by Paul Castain on October 7, 2012

From the beginning of time, we were taught that we have to uncover the “pain”.

So, being the good law abiding aspiring sales rock stars that we are, we put all this artillery fire on searching for pain . .

that may or may not be there!

I see  two flaws to this logic.

1)   If there isn’t any pain . . . we’re screwed!

2)   If there is pain . . . we might walk away from that meeting with limited information.

Why?

Because we were so busy focusing on pain that we, most probably didn’t probe (my inner third grader is laughing at that word) for opportunity.

Have you ever really thought about the opportunities that your prospect is looking for?

I’m talking about things like . . .

Happy Customers (internal and external)

Happy Shareholders

Happy Employees

Increasing Productivity

Increasing Profitability

Being first to market

Time Out . . .

You might, very well be probing those areas, but . . .

Are you doing it in the context of pain or opportunity? In other words, if you ask a question that is framed to uncover pain and your prospect doesn’t feel pain in that area . . . you missed the opportunity to see if its an opportunity that they’d really like to embrace.

I could go on and on and obviously I’m being incredibly general but . . .

You should know the specifics in your business.

Here’s  a quick assignment . . .

Think about this as your prospect does. In order to do that, I want you to mentally fire yourself and rehire yourself as your prospect.

Think of as many of the opportunities as you can.

Start this off as just a general exercise then . . .

Try it with a specific client, then a few more, then move on to your prospects.

Doing this silly little exercise will give you fresh insight into other areas you need to probe and we can even back this up a step and say that these are areas you might want to include in the research portion of your meticulous pre call planning.

Sales Managers . . .

Might be a really cool thing to get your team discussing in your next sales meeting.

Your Turn . . .

What other “opportunities” can we add to that list (general or specific to your industry) Let’s see if we can get a substantial list going so we can help spark additional thoughts!

Last Chance . . .

Enrollment for my Time Management webinar ends Monday, the 8th at 3:00 pm. Click here for details.

  • SPGonz

    @Paul, I am hooked – after following your lead on the LI Group, Sales Playbook, and seeing how you have orchestrated one of the best (if not the best) effective group on LI, I look forward to your posts and podcasts. Your podcasts are very entertaining and resourceful, and your posts are to the point and actionable -very little fluff (which is how I like it!)

    I will say that I am not sure I am on the same page w/you on this topic – maybe a matter of semantics – I believe that each point you demonstrated – Happy Customers, Happy Shareholders, Increase Productivity, etc – are possible “pain” points and if a sales person asks the right questions (and for me, its all in the questions) and listeners (not just hears) the answers, they can figure out the “pain.” I am not sure there is a “pain” list and a “not so pain” list.

    Could we add to the list…Embracing New Technology, Redefining Recruitment Practices, Understanding Social Trends, Listening To The Conversation Going On Outside of Their Immediate World

    Thanks Paul for the opportunity to continue to learn and your willingness to share your knowledge

    SPGonz

  • SPGonz

    @Paul, I am hooked – after following your lead on the LI Group, Sales Playbook, and seeing how you have orchestrated one of the best (if not the best) effective group on LI, I look forward to your posts and podcasts. Your podcasts are very entertaining and resourceful, and your posts are to the point and actionable -very little fluff (which is how I like it!)

    I will say that I am not sure I am on the same page w/you on this topic – maybe a matter of semantics – I believe that each point you demonstrated – Happy Customers, Happy Shareholders, Increase Productivity, etc – are possible “pain” points and if a sales person asks the right questions (and for me, its all in the questions) and listeners (not just hears) the answers, they can figure out the “pain.” I am not sure there is a “pain” list and a “not so pain” list.

    Could we add to the list…Embracing New Technology, Redefining Recruitment Practices, Understanding Social Trends, Listening To The Conversation Going On Outside of Their Immediate World

    Thanks Paul for the opportunity to continue to learn and your willingness to share your knowledge

    SPGonz

  • http://yoursalesplaybook.com paulcastain

    Thank you!

    I think they are two entirely different things and yes, there could be pain in those areas . . . the thing to think about is . . . if all is well in those areas, there isn’t any pain.

    If we then focus on potential pain, they still might not connect the dots.

    Even still, in the absence of pain (even in the presence of pain but that’s another discussion altogether) there is opportunity.

    My blog post today isn’t about one approach vs the other . . . its about making sure we include opportunities as a viable questioning track.

    Thanks again Steve!

  • Helmut

    Hi Paul, as always something to make people think! I have learned that people usually are heading towards two directions: towards a goal or leaving a problem. In my 27 years sales experience this has been confirmed so many times. I also have learned to establish a trusted relationship before clients will show me their ‘driving force’! Without a relationship, there are no pains confirmed or goal and objectives. Clients are mad about this ‘pain’ search – even if they have to deal with huge challenges.

    I think you’re right with forcing people to ask less ‘pain’ oriented questions and instead trying to understand their situation by standing in their shoes. Sales reps achieve best results giving their dialog partners enough space to explain their business live and to open up for a deeper inspection as a second step.

    Sales reps these days are pressured to ‘catch’ clients, pain them to death to close business. Sales cycle reduction is the objective, loosing many opportunities is the result. Sales managers should wake up and face the reality: clients want more time shared, before doing business with your sales rep instead of reducing the face-to-face time by hunting every little opportunity.

    I like your exercise very much and recommend to do it in each sales meeting and have marketing to join those sessions to learn more about clients and their real ‘pains’.

    Kind regards Helmut

  • Chris

    Paul, don’t fool yourself ….there is no inherent value in a solution. Very few humans will ever move from their comfort zone unless there is ‘pain’

  • http://yoursalesplaybook.com paulcastain

    Very true and if no pain exists then all you have is the opportunity. Don’t fool yourself by only probing for one and not both.

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