It’s only natural: When you’re facing somebody who’s in distress you like to find a solution as fast as possible to help them.

But in sales, it often pays to let your customer wallow in his pain for a while.

That’s hard for salespeople, who always like to deliver good news. They hear a customer begin to relate a problem and they think, “Bingo! I can solve this problem! Let me put the customer out of his misery and she’ll be grateful and reward me with a sale.”

Dwelling on their problems
But that’s not necessarily the optimum approach.

Better: Get comfortable with your customer’s pain. The more you allow her to dwell on her problems, the more appealing your solution will be. Whether you’re selling a container of plastic beach sandals or financial advice, you’re selling a solution to a problem. If there’s no problem, there’s no sale.

Where a problem does exist, it must be seen by the customer as urgent enough and important enough to require action. If customers feel that it is more cost-effective to put up with the problem than to pay for it to go away, they will not buy.

Bad, bad news
Customers frequently underestimate the true cost of problems. For example, they may quantify a dollar loss, but fail to recognize damage to reputation, employee morale or future sales.

It’s to your benefit to help the customer understand just how bad the bad news is before you offer the good news – that is, your solution.

And that means letting them feel the full measure of their pain – before you step in to to relieve it.

Source: Neil Rackham, Huthwaite, Inc; www.huthwaite.com

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