Pain Before Process

A few years ago, I was working with very savvy clients in San Diego on a sales development program. One night,I was dining with my client who expressed to me that after 20 years in selling and negotiating he realized this important distinction:

Process vs. Pain.

Selling to the Pain, Not the Process

What he said was: “I focus so heavily on understanding the ‘process’ of my client’s business that I’ve neglected to pinpoint and understand his ‘pain.”  He realized that it was mission-critical for him to locate a client’s pain and truly size it BEFORE delving into the client’s process of how he/she runs their business. 

In essence, finding their pain first then understanding their process.  If you focus your attention too early on fixing the process, you will miss what is really at the heart of the matter.  And thus, you will lose the opportunity to provide a solution for a much larger set of issues and become a trusted advisor. Listen first, ask the right questions and get to the pain first.  The process will come.  

Ask to Understand

The best, fastest way to understand a client’s situation is to find their pain within the first ten minutes of your meeting. Ask questions like:

  • From my research I see that your organization has declared XYZ, what’s essential now to insure this?
  • What are the challenges to this now?

Size their pain with questions like:

  • What’s been the impact of these challenges now to your organization?

Stay in their pain with questions like:

  • How has your revenue been affected by this? And how are you and your team viewed as a result of this?

Find Yourself Tethered to the Truth

If you think your client doesn’t have pain points in his work, then you aren’t digging enough. Do your research, which includes asking your client the right questions. The more you ask questions like this, the more you will find your champion who will act as your tether-line to the truth!