How To Find Pain Points

[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.

>> Want more expertise like this on your side? Sign up for the free SALES ON FIRE video training series! <<


Pain Points: Back to the Basics

Pain PointsPain Points are a straightforward yet vital tool to sale success. When a sale has been achieved but the salesperson is unsure why, you can be certain at least one pain point was accidentally hit upon and was responsible.

We've been looking at buyer personas the last few days, and that is a pretty advanced selling topic. You have to have a number of elements of your sales plan worked out before you get to that point. So today we'll go back to the basics. Pain points are typical problems, or symptoms of problems, that your solution resolves for customers. When you get these right, they accelerate credibility, trust and speed in the sales process. Unfortunately, most people in sales roles only know about features and benefits. These are not pain points. And this is why the large majority of selling efforts are ineffective.

The Difference Between Features, Benefits and Pain Points

A feature is a noticeable factor about your product or service. For instance, it's red. Or delivery is guaranteed within one hour.

A benefit is an improvement or advantage the customer gets because of one or more features. Examples: their new red Ferrari gets a lot of attention, or the kids are fed a hot and tasty pizza without a long wait--and the parents don't have to do any cooking.

None of these things are pain points, however.

A transformation must happen. A certain ordering of the words and specific terminology are required. Consider: when the language of the prospect is used--jargon from their individual niche--what does that communicate? That the salesperson truly understands the prospect's world. This is precisely what gives us instant credibility. When the salesperson sounds like the prospect, rapport and trust can develop much more quickly.

Example Pain Points

So what would be a pain point for our sports car buyer?

They realize they're getting older, and worry they're less attractive to the opposite sex than they were in earlier years.

Of course, you would want to soften this language so it has less harsh impact upon the prospect. And you could even ask it as a series of negative reverse selling questions: "I see you're admiring our 458. ...You probably haven't thought about how many heads this will turn when you cruise by?" ... "You seem to be a mature guy who appreciates this kind of quality. I don't suppose you've had the chance to follow luxury sports cars long?" This can easily lead us into a discussion uncovering the age of our prospect, and their self-image.

And for the pizza-buying moms and dads?

They want quiet, happy kids with full bellies, NOW.

For an example with industry-specific terminology, here's one from my days of running a metal fab shop in the mid-2000s:

I work with building contractors who are upset fab subs have constantly missed their delivery dates, pushing back the completion schedule of all the other trades and inspections.

Incidentally, I got two points down for that niche. After I achieved that, every single builder I called with those two bits of information gave me an order. Every one. It may have been a $100 order for custom plasma cut bathroom keychains, as one architect's office requested; but it also may have been an $8000 staircase railing for a high-end new home. Our problems became operational rather than sales-related. A whole new ballgame.

Can you see now why it's so important to niche down, and stick with it? In a relatively short time, typically a couple of weeks, you can develop the right language to create immediate credibility in the mind of your prospect. And then they're much more open to having a dialogue with you. The secret, which you know if you've been following me for awhile, is that great conversations lead to sales. And you also probably know that most prospecting calls are begun so badly there is no rest of the call. You want as many great conversations with qualified prospects as possible. But these dialogues are not easy to get. Bad salespeople have made prospects put up a wall of skepticism. The language we use at the start of the call can help us overcome this barrier.

Next time, we'll discuss how to figure out what the pain points are for the niche you're calling into.

>> You can sign up for the free SALES ON FIRE video training series: click here <<

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10 Proven Sales Tactics to Skyrocket Your Revenue in 2024


Howdy, salesperson (or founder, or president, or chief potato officer or whatever: you’re a salesperson, and there’s a clear picture of what salesperson success looks like). This is where I’m supposed to tell you rapport, creating urgency, overcoming objections, hardcore closing, follow up and so on are the key sales tactics to winning more orders. You may be shocked to discover that I am not. You can get that kids’ stuff somewhere else.

What we’re going to talk about here at SalesTactics.org are concepts beyond the norm. I’m not interested in regurgitating the same boiled-over techniques everyone else has been talking about. They’ve covered those for the past 20 years, and how much better are they doing? I want to give you something new and different when it comes to overcoming the business growth problem and driving conversion success. Are you open to that?

Here are ten unusual and tremendously effective sales tactics concepts that we’re going to cover:

1/ The Critical Importance of Money Tolerance In Qualifying Your Buyer

2/ Why You Need To Understand Your Customers’ Pain Points

3/ Why Price Point Is So Valuable As a Filtering Factor, And Why You’re Afraid to Raise Prices

4/ Your Outreach Sucks, and What You Can Do About It

5/ The Danger of the Two Sales, and How You’re Running Afoul of This Danger

6/ Why Demos Fail to SellNobody Cares About Your Bells and Whistles

7/ How Much Time You Should Really Be Spending Prospecting

8/ Why “Buyers Are Liars” and How You Can Use Their Lies to Sell

9/ The Reasons CRM Selection, Setup and Use Often Goes Badly

10/ The Four Systems Every Salesperson Needs, and Typically Can’t Explain.

Let’s take a closer look:

Sales Tactic #1: Use the Power of Money Tolerance In Working With Your Buyer

money tolerance, dollar, eye, billMoney Tolerance is THE limiting belief that impacts whether a sale will be made or not. Even more important than the customer admitting they have the problem your solution fixes, Money Tolerance (MT) rules the reality they exist in and the decisions they make.

Like a thermometer reading of “How much is ‘a lot of money’ for you,” you can quickly tell whether your prospects’ MT matches the offer’s price level⏤or not. How well does the prospective customer’s MT line up with the offer’s price? If it’s “too much” because buyer and seller money tolerance don’t match, you’ll always struggle to make that sale.

Even if you discover the prospect’s MT is out of alignment with the offer, at least you know what you’re up against and can work on it. But if you don’t discover this, you’re beaten in making the sale before you start.

Sales Tactic #2: Know and Use Your Customers’ Pain Points

A buyer is a buyer, and there are many people out there who will never buy your offer. You need to understand this. I have watched many marketers year after year who believe if they can just keep hammering away at their marketplace with their offer’s features and benefits, eventually they’ll turn that obstinate lead into a buyer. No. Some people will never buy.

But there is a way to rapidly filter IN those leads who already believe things that are in alignment with your offer. Things, for example, like understanding the problems or symptoms of problems that your solution makes go away. These are best expressed in the words of your customers, and are called Pain Points.

You may have heard of “dog whistle copy”. This is an example of pain point language: it is crystal clear, to the point, and speaks directly to the person who could most use the solution you provide. But nobody is going to walk up unsolicited and give you this language. You have to go out and earn it. You need to interact with your target market to hear these words and phrases.

They will tell you these pain points for free. However, you have to be talking to your ideal customers to hear these words. I recommend you be brave and do information interviews to get them. Hardly anyone does these. They’re too scared. You will gain a tremendous sales advantage if you bother to uncover these terms and use them.

Information interviews are the fastest and easiest way to learn your market’s pain points, so you can start incorporating these into your marketing material, prospecting calls, and advertising.

Learn how to find Pain Points, and use these up front in your conversations with prospects. This is the quickest and easiest way to filter for qualified buyers. They must be in the language your buyers used, however: do not try and ‘flower them up’ by being a copywriter. Use them  as they were given to you to make your life as a salesperson much easier.

Sales Tactic #3: Gain Control of Price Point and Your Own Money Fears

Afraid to raise pricesWe spoke about Money Tolerance above, in respect to your customer. Find out about head trash and why it is so important. Know now that you also have this same limiting belief operating in you. How good a match is your MT with the offer you’re trying to sell? If your personal MT is lower than your offer, you’ll always find ways to screw up the sale.

On the other side of the scale, we have the importance of the low Money Tolerance limit. This is the point at which and below an offer is priced too low to be worth it for you.

But most salespeople struggle with this lack of fit of their personal MT Upper Limit and the price of their offer: its price is too high for them, and they believe no one is able to afford it. I caution you that Money Tolerance is an entirely personal piece of head trash, that you can change it, and that other people are walking around with a completely different number of how much is “a lot of money” in their heads than the one you value so highly.

Straighting this necessary alignment out of the price of the offer you’re selling and your own Money Tolerance will do more for you than any sales technique. Why? Because it attacks the problem at the conceptual level rather than the behavioral. So learn right now Why You’re Afraid to Raise Prices.

Sales Tactic #4: Do Better Outreach So You Talk to the Right People

How Much Time Should You Spend Prospecting, doors, the right door, choosing, prospecting for new clientsTalk to the wrong people and you’ll bounce right off. This leads to salespeople spamming everyone in sight when they try to act as marketers. But if you want to be effective, you need to be a sniper and understand the value of good prospecting rather than a shotgunner.

There’s a course at the end of this article in which I describe how your LinkedIn outreach is terrible. It’s not my course. That’s how good it is: I want to give it to you, just like the course creator did, rather than make money on it. Don’t be like nine out of ten people who visit that post, who do nothing and don’t even go visit the course page.

“Conversations with qualified prospects lead to sales”. That’s a maxim of mine, and what you need to do is create the most opportunities to have those conversations with those people. How much time should you spend prospecting? Leave it to chance and you’ll be far less effective. You came here to learn sales tactics, didn’t you?

Sales Tactic #5: Avoid The Danger of the Two Sales

the danger of the two sales, unable to sell, positioning problem, marketing problemThis secret problem kills sales, especially for newbies and for people trying to bring a new product or offer to the marketplace. Are you asking, “What product should I make“? If your audience requires education to understand the need for your offer, listen up.

Salespeople rush to the finish line in the sales conversation. They bleat about the many features and benefits of their solution without understanding the implicit connection between features and price. But did they take the time to uncover whether this prospect has the problem their magic bullet solves?!

Often, no. Too often.

Discover here a full explanation of The Danger of the Two Sales, and how to innoculate yourself and your sales process from this terrible deal killer.

Sales Tactic #6: Stop Relying On Demos to Sell

Look at the statistics of reasons from 2007 how SaaS vendors get it wrong and why people don’t buy SaaS apps. You’ll find out that these same reasons continue to apply today!

The truth is that you must get at the underlying reasons people will buy, and why demos fail to sell. This ability to uncover the truth is your most powerful sales tactic. And those reasons almost assuredly have nothing to do with features! They are almost always emotionally-based. Only gearheads buy because of features…and they, too, have emotions. Emotions driving decision making like wanting to be associated with the cool kids, so they buy from you with your cool company and cool product, so they can tell their friends. Hear about an example in this podcast episode about SaaS sales problems and the Battle of Dorking.

While your boss, who probably knows a lot about software but nothing about selling, will chant, “Book demos, book demos, book demos,” this is hardly an effective way to overcome SaaS sales problems. You can do better.

Sales Tactic #7: Spend the Time Prospecting Actually Required

How Much Time Should You Spend ProspectingYour or your company’s reputation is NOT enough to rely upon for you to make the money you want every month. Your employer, if you have one, cannot be relied upon to have a marketing department that delivers you enough qualified leads every month to support you in hitting your target.

You have to take these matters into your own hands. But now you’re probably asking, “How do I build a list?”

Marketing is frequently out of alignment with Sales. That’s just an observable fact. The leads they think are great which they’re providing to you often simply don’t turn out to be a good fit. So you must understand the value of good prospecting and make up the difference on your own. And if you’re a solopreneur or commission-based salesperson, you must bring in your own leads.

Not putting in enough time doing prospecting activity is the death signal of businesses and sales careers. We’ve already noted that if you don’t have enough conversations with qualified prospects, you won’t hit your money target.

What I have seen is that salespeople need to spend consistent time prospecting, and a lot more than they believe. (“How much time should you spend prospecting?”) I know closers don’t like to prospect. Well, then, outsource it as you can pay for it…but you have to do it. And nobody will prequalify a lead better than you, the salesperson.

Sales Tactic #8: Realize “Buyers Are Liars” and Being Cool with it

A prospective customer gets excited as you start the conversation with them. But then nothing happens (leaving you asking, “Why didn’t they buy? We had such a great conversation”). Or, a prospect doesn’t show much emotion at all, even mild disinterest, at the beginning of your discussion. So what? Do your emotions go up (“I got a live one here!”) or down (“This person’s never gonna buy”) at this point?

As an effective sales tactic, I warn you that allowing your emotional state to get bumped around like a plane experiencing in-flight turbulence is a bad idea. “Buyers Are Liars” for a reason…and how they begin the conversation is often a total smokescreen.

Let me be crystal clear: Don’t get sucked into the emotional response your mind wants to put you into as you hear the first reponses of your prospect in sales conversations. This is how buyer preferences kill sales. They’re probably lying to you.

Sales Tactic #9: Choose and Use the Right CRM for You

when should i fill out the crm info confused salesperson question business development staff woman raised hands struggling

CRM selection, setup, and use often goes poorly. Why are CRM setups a problem? Salespeople resist using new software⏤I have seen good leads forgotten on Post-It notes stuck under keyboards! “When should I fill out the CRM info?” Now! And fast-talking salespeople often get business owners or department managers to overbuy, paying lots of money out every month for CRM features no one will use.

Be deliberate with your CRM selection. I’ve been around a long time and used everything from ACT! to custom database programs for multinationals…and the most common CRM I reach for is a Google Sheet with conditional formatting.

The way you use technology in a modern sales process is critical. Documentation is important! If it’s not written down for other people to see, it didn’t happen. The right CRM is a sales tactic that will make you faster, better, and richer.

Sales Tactic #10: Ruthlessly Focus On These Four Systems

entrepreneur, startup, how to start a businessLack of clarity is the fastest way to lose energy and stop taking action in your business (and if you’re a salesperson, you’re running a mini business-within-a-business, and don’t you forget it: check out this article for How To get out of negative mindset). Every business, EVERY BUSINESS despite their claims that “my business is different“, needs these four systems described as advice for a new agency founder. They apply to every business.

As your foundational sales tactic, implement and ruthlessly improve these four systems. Every business needs them, whether they’re a dog groomer or a bank. Understand this, internalize it. Use these four systems to drive your results. Wondering “how do I get more clients“? This is how.

Everybody wants a fast magic bullet to get to where they want to go. But those don’t exist. The power of using business fundamentals repeated over and over again are what get you to success, and these four systems are absolutely fundamentals every salesperson needs. The goal? You should be able to write in plain English (or your first language), in a couple of sentences, what you are doing for each system. Apply, measure, improve. Always keep improving.


We’ve looked at 10 out-of-the-norm sales tactics that others won’t be talking about. These sales tactics will, when applied, consistently place you in high value situations where you can be incredibly effective in solving big problems for your customers, closing sales, and driving revenue.

For more sales tactics that aren’t rehashed and are proven from activity in the real world, get the Sales On Fire program. If you’re dead serious about becoming an amazing salesperson and know you must learn how to sell, or are staying up late at night wondering how you can get your sales team to peak performance levels (this is why reinforcement is necessary for sales success), get Sales On Fire today

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