Feeling Their Pain

Dec. 28, 2000
Marketing tests have shown that people will do more to avoid pain than to achieve pleasure. For example, you may not go to a baseball game (or other pleasurable activity) tonight because you are too tired. However, if you got a toothache later that same night, most of us would go to an emergency dentist or get pain relievers. Pain and fear of loss are powerful motivators.

Notice that TV ads and infomercials emphasize the pain and embarrassment their products will cure. Notice how long they concentrate on the problem before they tell you about the solution they are promoting. This is a very important step in the selling process. No one was worried about dandruff enough to spend money on special shampoo until Madison Avenue showed us the pain and embarrassment of it. We saw how great the lives of the actors became when they used the special shampoo. They created a need as well as millions of sales. So what does all this have to do with selling water equipment? Many salespeople return from demonstrations and report that their clients "weren’t interested." This could be an indication of not "feeling their pain." The first step in this process is to find out which pain or problem is the one for concentration by asking questions such as, "Why did you ask us out here tonight?" Or, "If you could change one thing about your water, what would it be?" Get them to tell you what they are interested in. Many salespeople think the buyer is always interested in saving money. The truth is, his buying motive can be anything from keeping up with neighbors to wanting a great cup of coffee. Determine his interest by asking and listening.

When you feel you have uncovered the customer’s main area of interest, ask more questions to get to the emotion behind the issue. Here is a typical exchange where the salesperson gets to the emotion.

Salesperson: "What made you decide to call us this evening?"
Customer: "We are remodeling our kitchen and wanted to look into water improvements."
Salesperson: "What about your water would you like to improve?"
Customer: "Nothing special, we just want everything we need built in the new kitchen during remodeling."
Salesperson: "And, everything would include...."
Customer: "You know, everything that makes it look up-to-date."
Salesperson: "And when you say that, you mean what exactly?"
Customer: "We mean we want our kitchen to look impressive."
The customer has revealed that he wants to see something in his kitchen that will make it look good, modern or act as a status symbol. Don’t always go with saving money. Notice how the example uses pauses and layering to reveal the true need and the emotion behind it.

Once you find what you believe is the dominant need, emphasize it, expand it and feel their pain. Using the unusual buying motive above as an example, a salesperson might say things such as, "I know. Don’t you hate it when you go to all the trouble to update your kitchen only to find out there are features that were left out that you wish you had?" Make sure the customer agrees this would be a bad thing (i.e., feeling the pain of going to all of the trouble of remodeling and then not getting everything he wanted).

You could go on, expanding the picture of the problem and making him feel the pain of not owning the products. "You probably designed your kitchen to have all the features needed by up-to-date kitchens for the next 20 years, didn’t you? It’s good you asked me out tonight because our company has a product that will be necessary in every good kitchen in the future and is available to forward-planning people today."

That may be an exaggerated example, but notice how the conversation magnifies the reason the customer gave you for considering your equipment.

Next time, try uncovering the customer’s dominant buying emotion. It is an excellent technique that helps customers make the right decision.

About the Author
Carl Davidson is president of Sales & Management Solutions, which provides sales and management training designed exclusively for the water equipment industry. For more than 13 years, he has helped more than 1,400 companies in seven countries. For a free demonstration tape and catalog, contact the company at 800-941-0068; www.salesco.net.

If you have questions or a topic you would like to see addressed, please e-mail [email protected]; fax 847-390-0408.

About the Author

Carl Davidson

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