Having the ‘Pain’ Conversation with Sales Prospects

Understanding how to approach the “pain” conversation with a prospective customer will uncover information that will position you to offer a solution and possibly make a sale, according to sales trainer Jason Dixon of Neuberger and Company, Inc.

Speaking at the July Knowledge Session hosted by the SMEI Baltimore chapter, Dixon walked the attendees through the “Pain Funnel,” a process taught by sales and management training provider Sandler Training.

“Tell me more about that” is a good opening line to begin the conversation, followed by “Can you be more specific? Give me an example.”

“How long has that been a problem” will take you deeper into the issues – learning if the prospect has been fighting this battle for 15 years calls for a different approach than if it’s a more recent issue.

“What have you tried to do about that?” will dial in to how they think and tip you off to not repeating marketing sins of the past.

“And did that work?” The likely answer is “no,” and the reason you are having the conversation. Dixon said this is the transition point to the emotional/pain phase of the conversation.

“How much do you think that has cost you?” is a way of inquiring about dollars as well as lost opportunities and other factors, plus it keeps the conversation at the emotional/pain level.

“How do you feel about that” takes you deeper into that zone as the prospect thinks and talks about looking bad in front of the boss, fears of getting fired or having to replace people to find the right solution.

Finally, “Have you given up trying to deal with the problem?” gets you to the prospect’s level of conviction. They’ll likely say they have to fix this issue and find a solution, looking to you to explain how you can help.