If the person with whom you are speaking has no Pain in areas in which you might be able to assist, he or she is not a prospect. But before you conclude that no Pain exists, spend some time inquiring about your prospect’s situation.
Most people have Pain, though they may not reveal it easily, either because it hurts their ego to do so, or because they haven’t really focused on it or because they don’t trust you. (More on the subject of trust later.)
In the early stages of a sales conversation you attempt to uncover Pain. The middle stages are used to fully understand the Pain—how bad it is, how long the prospect has had it, and what it means to him (including, if applicable, what it’s costing him).
In the middle stages of a conversation, after you’ve uncovered some Pain, you’re listening to understand, not (yet) to be understood. (That’s Stephen Covey’s idea from the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Listen first to understand, then to be understood.” [italics mine])
What that means for us in selling is, until we understand our prospect’s situation fully, we should not be advocating that he buy anything! And we’re not keeping the conversation going by talking about ourselves, or our services or products, either, unless the prospect asks about us. Instead, we’re talking about the prospect’s Pain, and understanding that as completely as possible.