Pain versus Need: Why I focus on the pain.. (and the monkey wrench)….

Recently I taught a sales training class to an IT service company in India. As many of you know, once a class ends most attendees/students often do not remember a whole lot of what they heard in the training class. So, in the beginning of the session I listed 2 messages, and said that after the class ended the only things the attendees needed to remember are:

(1) Sales is a process, not an event (see my first post)

(2) Show how your product or service can fix your customer’s pain

So, what is the difference between a pain and a need. Here’s how I view the difference: a pain is what the customer feels, a need is what the customer believes will eliminate the pain. A few days ago my can opener stopped working. My pain was that I could no longer open cans with it. So I felt a need for a new can opener. With 48 hours I bought a new can opener for 395 Rupees (approx US $9). Guess what? After buying the new can opener I fixed the old can opener with a monkey wrench – now I have two can openers. But did I really need a new can opener? Of course not… my pain would have been cured by fixing the old can opener….

I’ve learned in my sales career that a customer often has an idea of how to eliminate a pain. Sometimes a customer is convinced that he/she knows how to fix the pain. So, the customer tells you what he/she needs. And if you do not have what he/she needs, you may think that you are not going to be able to sell your product.  The good news is that there are many ways to fix the pain. When a customer expresses a need for something I focus on finding out the customer’s actual pain. My job as a salesperson is to show how my product or service can fix the customer’s pain.  It is even better if I can offer the monkey wrench to fix the problem instead of asking the customer to spend more money…

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