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.

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