Probe for pain

When you go to the doctor and tell him that you don’t feel well, he will ask where it hurts. Most people don’t go to the doctor unless they hurt. Pain is nature’s way of telling us that something needs to be fixed. Whether it’s a pain in your belly, a backache or a sore tooth, pain motivates.

Pain motivates customers to buy. When the pain of something is greater than the gain of holding on to their money, people buy. Pain also plays a major role in deflecting price objections or relegating price to an end-of-the-sale detail. Where is your buyer hurting? What keeps her up at night? What does he fear more than paying a little more than he anticipated for something? Buyers who feel pain are motivated to do something about it. The greater the pain, the greater the motivation to act.

Probe for pain. Dig for what makes them hurt. Drill down to find root-canal pain that will make the buyer eager for a solution. Ask these questions:

What is your biggest headache on this project?

What’s keeping you up at night?

What concerns you most about moving forward?

What is the one thing you would like to fix that would make your life instantly better?

What is giving you the most grief at this point?

What is the biggest pain in the neck you face with this project?

If you could solve just one problem what would it be?

As a salesperson, your job is to be a pain specialist. First, you probe for the pain. It’s an important part of your diagnosis. You want to know what makes the buyer hurt. Dig for the hurt. Identify the motivation for why the buyer will budge.

Second, prescribe the correct medication to fix the problem and make the pain go away. If you don’t have the medicine in your bag, help the buyer find it even if it means sending him down the street to another supplier. Your job is to make the pain go away. He’ll remember that you were the one that pointed him in the right direction.

Serving is a privilege, not a pain

If you want to sell, you must be willing to serve. There is no sustainable alternative. Salespeople sell products, but they serve people. If you’re not willing to serve, you cannot expect to excel and succeed in a customer-focused profession.

Serving is not complex; in fact, it’s rather simple. You must begin with the attitude that the sale is more about the buyer than it is about the seller. It’s their problem, their money, and a solution with which they must live. It should be more about the buyer than the seller. This presumes that you must be willing to subordinate your ego for the greater good of serving others. And this is the great sales paradox.

In a profession that showcases individual performance and achievement, serving others is really a function of depending on others in your organization. You may sell the first experience with your company, but it is the total experience with your company that brings customers back. This is where setting aside your ego comes into play. Serving others, as part of a team, is a different sales dynamic than going it alone.

If you’re willing to commit yourself to a purpose larger than your self interests–i.e. serving others–sales is a rewarding profession. It gives you the opportunity to serve your way to distinction and watch your sales grow.

Tom Reilly is the author of Value-Added Selling and Customer Service is more than a department: It’s an attitude! Reilly is also a professional speaker and you may reach him through his Web site:

Would you recommend this article?


Thanks for taking the time to let us know what you think of this article!
We'd love to hear your opinion about this or any other story you read in our publication.

Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

Featured Download

Related Tech News

It’s never too late

It’s never too late

Dress for success

CDN in your inbox

CDN delivers a critical analysis of the competitive landscape detailing both the challenges and opportunities facing solution providers. CDN's email newsletter details the most important news and commentary from the channel.