Quick Sales Tip - Uncovering Customer Pain Points

Businesswoman in discussion with client in office
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What do you think the main difference is between someone looking to buy a sports car and someone who is looking to buying a new hot water heater? The difference is the motivation behind the purchase. The person shopping for a sports car is motivated out of his desire to gain pleasure, which he thinks will be satiated by owning a sports car. The person buying a hot water heater is motivated out of the desire to avoid pain.

While taking cold showers may have some health benefits, there is not much pleasure involved in taking them, nor in shopping for a hot water heater.

For the sales professional, understanding the core reason for buying that your customer is operating under (either to gain pleasure or to avoid pain,) is the launching pad of sales excellence. Knowing how to use your customer's core motivation starts with a simple, yet powerful sales tool.

The Psychology of Sales

In case you were not aware, all customers start their buying cycles to either gain pleasure or to avoid pain. No matter what the purchase, in the customer's mind, the product will help them accomplish one of these two objectives. The challenge for many is to understand what the core motivation their customer is operating under.

While many would think that, in our above example, the man shopping for a sports car would certainly be doing so to gain pleasure, that may not be his true motivation.

It could be that the gentleman is struggling with growing older and his fear (aka "pain,") of losing his youth is driving his desires. Yes, he may indeed find pleasure from his purchase, but his main motivation is to avoid the additional pain that he associates with growing older.

Break Out the Leather Couch

This does not mean that sales professionals need to be "para-psychologists," complete with leather couches, first edition books from Freud and a 50-minute hourly billing policy.

It does mean, however, that getting to the core motivation is critical.

To serve as an example, imagine if you were the salesperson in the sports car example above, and you focused entirely on what driving a sports car would "give" to your customer. What motivates him, in our example, is not what he would "get" from owning the car, but what would be "taken away." You'd go on and on about the prestige, and he would be searching for an answer to his question; "How will owning this car remove some of my fears of getting old?"

Two completely different sales talk tracks and two completely different results.

The Key That Unlocks the Truth

You may have guessed that the key to uncovering the core reason your customer is considering buying is by asking questions. Of equal importance is to listen closely to their answer.

Your questions should be directed to try to uncover "how" the customer will use the product and "what" they expect to get from owning it. These simple questions can reveal a ton of useful information. Obviously, if you are selling hot water heaters, you probably don't need to ask questions to uncover your customer's primary motivation, but if you sell any product that is considered a luxury, you need to find the answers to these questions.

Unless you have no competition, you always have to be at your best when working with a customer. Every "tip" is only as good as how well you implement it so, like every other bit of sales advice you've ever received, practice makes perfect.