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Successful Sales Require Uncovering Customer Pain Points
Think of it: how many times have you received a sales pitch for something you didn’t need or want? Perhaps it was an aluminum siding representative trying to sell you his product even though you’re a renter. Perhaps you received a can of free baby formula in the mail just before your youngest child started middle school. In a business context, you may have received a heavy push from a copier toner salesperson trying to send you cartridges for a model you don’t even own. Whatever the circumstances, it’s pretty clear that the most important first step of selling – qualifying the prospect – is one that many sales people never get past.
Even if you’ve managed to determine what your prospects might need, you may still be a long way from determining what they really want. The best way to do this, according to a recent article by Aja Frost writing for HubSpot (News - Alert), is by determining prospects’ and customers’ pain points. Your biggest enemy in this step is that customers are often too willing to keep the status quo in place, even if they’re suffering.
“When you correctly diagnose buyer pain and show them how the cost of not changing, they’re eager to disrupt the status quo,” wrote Frost.
The wrong way to get customers to understand their pain points is to probe for information and declare they are doing everything wrong. (It may be true, but people get defensive when their actions are questioned.) Instead, formulate your approach by using examples of other companies that have overcome their own pain points.
The wrong way: “You’re really wasting time and money doing that process on paper.”
The right way: “I recently helped a company automate their ____ process, and they were able to cut their weekly administrative time on that task by 50 percent. Would you like me to run through a simulation of how this approach could work for you?”
“Even if the issues you named don't resonate, you'll get your prospect's mind working,” wrote Frost. “He might say, ‘Now that I think about it, we’ve been having trouble meeting deadlines,’ or, ‘No, we’re not having those issues -- but getting my employees to submit their timesheets is a major pain.’ Either way, he’s acknowledged the current system is flawed. Now you can explore potential solutions.”
Pointing out your customer’s or prospect’s flaws directly is unlikely to lead to a change in that prospect’s thinking. A truly skilled sales person leads a prospect to draw his or her own conclusions through skillful questions about their existing process or system. You might ask the prospect to describe what he or she likes about the system (maybe it’s cheap, maybe the employees don’t want to learn a new system). After that, it’s time to ask what isn’t working about it. The responses you receive will be your prospect’s pain points. Once these are on the table, the job of personalized selling will become a lot easier.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi