Find the customer’s pain? What if they’re not hurting?
  • sales
  • Blog post

Find the customer’s pain? What if they’re not hurting?

Salespeople are often taught to find the customer’s pain.

But what happens when the prospect doesn’t have any pain?

“We’ve got it covered,” the prospect says. “Things are pretty good.”

“There must be something,” the salesperson persists, trying to get the buyer “in touch” with pain that surely must be there. “What’s your biggest challenge? What keeps you up at night?”

“I sleep like a baby,” the prospect says.

“Well… how about your ordering process? How many hours a month do you spend processing invoices? What would happen if an order didn’t show up on time? Or if it’s damaged?”

The problem, of course, is that the seller is trying to create pain where it doesn’t exist. The ordering process works okay. Those three or four hours a month spent processing invoices aren’t really a problem. Orders almost always show up on time and in good shape. And if they don’t, well … a phone call to the vendor and the problem gets fixed.

Who wants to do business with someone who’s trying to create pain? No wonder prospects back away.

There’s a different way to approach these buyers, says sales guru Steve Von Hoene. Because even if they don’t have “pain,” nearly all of them have a “preferred solution.” In other words, even when things are going well, they almost always could be going a little better.

The great thing about a preferred solution is that it’s all positive. You’re not focusing on what hurts. You’re inviting the customer to dream. “So in an ideal world,” you might say, “what would your ordering process look like?”

“In an ideal world? Let’s see. I could create routine purchase orders with the click of a button. I’d like the system to automatically match invoices to purchase orders, so I don’t have to. I’d like to see how my spending tracks against last year’s. I’d want an alert if inventories get too low…”

See the difference? You haven’t asked about a customer’s pain. Instead, you’ve helped the customer envision something better than “okay” – a vision you might be able to turn into a reality.

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