[Original 2014 Article:] How to find pain points is one of the basic sales questions we need to answer. We know what they are, and we know they are not features or benefits. But how do we get them?
The great thing about how to find pain points is that they are not difficult to find. We merely have to uncover them. Yes, they really are out there, like a good-for-you vegetable resting just under the surface.
Pain points are specific to their niche. Similarities and crossovers may exist from one niche to another, but terminology will change. Remain aware of this. You cannot simply carbon copy a pain point over to a new niche.
It's as simple as this: prospects will tell you the pain points. However, it takes time.
How To Find Pain Points the Easy Way
You have to be willing to begin badly. Realize that your first several days--probably the initial week if you're dialing an hour a day, and perhaps even two--will be purely for discovering pain points. Want faster results? Make more dials. This is the barrier of effectiveness: most people give up after a couple hours of calling. But the payoff if you commit is tremendous.
When you start, you'll begin with a "good enough" script. Your best guess for what may work. Pick a niche and stick with it. Some prospects won't want to talk, and that's fine; there are always people who don't want to or aren't able to talk. We know this from our industry standard stats:
- half the people you call won't be available
- half of the people who pick up the phone can't actually talk right now.
But of those who do pick up and can talk, some of them will want to help you with how to find pain points. Some people are just plain helpful. Others want to puff out their chests and be the expert. Either one is good for you.
You won't have to fight. Keep your ears open. Listen to what prospects are telling you. Eventually you're going to realize you've heard what this prospect just said before. Write that phrase down. Write it down exactly the way they said it. Notice the terminology. And over the next few days, you'll hear that same thing again and again. When you are told the same thing by three or more decision makers in that industry, you have the makings of a pain point.
"I'm sick and tired of metal fabrication subcontractors promising to meet our delivery dates to get the order, and then failing to do so. That screws up all the inspections and the schedule of all the trades that follow them in."
"Yeah, we gave a few jobs to a fab shop and their work is good, but they keep missing delivery dates. That really causes me a lot of trouble. I get penalized by the developer. The city inspectors and finishing carpeters hate my guts."
"I might consider trying you, but there's a question I have: can you deliver when you say you will?"
This is an example of a series of things you might here--and I did hear--when prospecting for a metal fabrication shop. You can see the common thread. You can also pick out some of the specific industry terms. The pain point is right there.
The No-Risk Way of How To Find Pain Points
Here is a way to uncover pain points without disturbing your target market:
Call the same niche, but in a different geographic area.
Yes, you may miss something that's different about your local area, but you'll get enough to start having good conversations.
Once you get the decision maker on the line, ask: "I'm not sure if you can help me, but I'm trying to find out about the experience (their niche) has had with (your type of company). Have you worked with one?"
Eg. "I'm trying to find out about the experience building contractors have had with metal fab shops. Have you worked with one?"
If they have a story to share, they will.
Then ask them what the worst experience they've had with one was. And then the best.
Yes, the best. Good experiences can be turned around into pain points. Just reverse the situation...if you can actually accomplish the end result.
An Example of How To Find Pain Points
I had a client in Florida who worked all day. He got out of the office at 5PM local time. Obviously we couldn't call locally, so we picked roofers in Colorado. Within a dozen dials, he had the marketing manager of a medium-sized roofing company on the line. Just out of niceness, she spent twenty minutes sharing with him the specifics of the roofing industry in Colorado. I pulled six pain points out of that conversation. It was easy. Now we had our way of starting great conversations with prospects.
Now this may sound simple. And it is. But when making sales calls, most people are concerned with what they are going to say rather than listening to what the other person is saying. I am asking you to keep listening in mind. What is the prospect actually saying?
The information is out there. You simply have to be willing to put in the time and effort, which is not massive and yet has a huge payoff, to uncover it.
2021 Update on How To Find Pain Points
If you want to find out what's really going on in your prospective customer's world, you still can in a world now used to remote meetings. All you need is for that prospect to have a good reason to talk with you. In a previous situation, we found that people who wanted further information on a financial product they had been educated about were more than willing to provide details about their investment and debt history. This was information they wouldn't feel comfortable sharing with their own mother—but in the right situation, they would happily share such details on a phone call within fewer than five minutes with an expert they were meeting for the very first time.
Consider: what do they want to get out of speaking with you? Make it about them and not you...and then you'll be able to get answers to whatever questions you wish.
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