Remember that many conversations are awkward because lots of otherwise kindhearted people are afraid of being backed into corners by aggressive salespeople. That’s why they don’t want to have a substantive conversation—they’re afraid that they’ll be forced into taking action!
They might be forced into taking action if they just look squarely at their Pain, and how their Pain is holding them back. But that’s not because the salesperson is pushy, it’s because the Pain is severe, and needs to be addressed.
So what you’re doing when you’re selling is helping people bring their Pain to the surface, look at it, understand its implications and then decide on a strategy for dealing with it—or decide to ignore it. But even if they ultimately decide to ignore it, or not to invest in fixing it, as salespeople, we’re bringing the Pain out and into the spotlight.
That, as I see it, is our job. Then their job is to look at what’s going on and how it’s affecting them, their businesses, and even other people. Having done that, we’re asking them to look at that impact, and make a decision to either address it, or to let it go. That’s an emotional thing, and it brings up emotional responses much more than other approaches to selling ever will.
Bottom line: there must be Pain for most people to buy. But some Pain is just an irritation, while other Pain is actionable.
When selling, I often say:
“Fred, you’ve told me you’re frustrated by the fact that __________. I hear that. Now is that just an irritant or do you think it’s actionable?”