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Identifying the Real Pain: How to Effectively Qualify Your Customer’s Pain Points

identifying customer pain

There is no deal without a pain. Pain is the driver, the ultimate reason why customers will act and buy your solution in the end.

It may not be obvious in the beginning, but there is always a trigger that gets decision makers to buy. It could be something that they need to solve, grow, improve, or reduce.

However, too many sales people don’t know what the real pain is or how to identify it.

In this article, we’ll cover exactly what qualifies as a real pain, what doesn’t, along with real world examples of pain points that were strong enough to close a deal.

 

In this article, we’ll cover exactly:

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What A Real Pain Point Is (And What Isn’t)

In 4 out of 5 cases, salespeople assume what the pain point is and don’t bother confirming with the client. Many times, these assumptions are built around the features and benefits of a product with no clear understanding of how the product benefits the client.

Some examples of pain points I’ve come across that were simply not strong enough were:

  • The client doesn’t have a data storage system
  • The client needs an automation on XYZ
  • The client has to act because of compliance reasons.

The problem is that these are intentions. Not actual pain points. So, what is a “real” pain point? It is the answer to the following questions:

  • Why should the client do anything?
  • What is the reason for acting?
  • What is preventing or stopping the client from doing anything?
  • What is the consequence of doing nothing?
  • How big of a pain is it?
  • Is there a deadline that the client needs to solve this pain point by?

    Ideally, the consequence should be related to your client’s business and should have a big, measurable impact tied to a deadline, making it compelling enough to act upon. We call this a “compelling event” This is probably the most difficult item to uncover, as prospects rarely want to disclose it. (See How to win customer rapport)

    But if you manage to identify a pain point that has a huge consequence AND a deadline, you’ve hit the Holy Grail of Sales:

    “Only one who is worthy may drink…”

    I once personally closed a large enterprise deal with $400k in just 48 hours without being listed as a vendor in SAP with 0% discount. How?

    Because my solution could solve a pain point that would have cost this company $1M in penalties just 72 hours later. The consequence of paying such a high penalty made this company bypass all internal processes to pay whatever it took to make this pain go away! And let me tell you, it felt sweet to sell at list price

    Now you might say this was a once-in-a-life-time deal, but identifying the real pain point and implications strengthens your position during negotiations and lets you drive the sales process proactively.

    How To Know Whether The Pain Point Is Strong Enough to Close a Deal

    Merely identifying a pain point is not enough. You have to qualify it in order to know whether your deal will hold up or fall apart.

    More specifically: You need to qualify the consequence of doing nothing.

    Meaning, the pain point must impact the customer in terms of time, cost, risk or revenue if not solved within a certain time period. Collect clear metrics from your client regarding revenue, time or resources lost and identify the consequence of doing nothing. This needs to be something concrete. Your best guess won’t do here.


    Here’s a real life example from my former colleague Peter, who sells accounting software:

    ABC Corp. is using a competitive accounting software that has been discontinued and will not be developed further in the future. New accounting rules have been announced by the federal tax office that ABC needs to be compliant within 6 months.

    It looks like we have identified a pain point and an impending deadline. In addition, messing with the tax authorities is never an option. It all looks good here doesn’t it? At least that’s what Peter thought.

    If we dig deeper, do we really know the consequence for ABC? In other words, will they be fined if they miss the deadline? Or could they find a workaround and stay with their system?

    Peter went back to the client to ask about the implication of missing the deadline. He found out that the tax authorities would not set any penalties in the first 12 months and ABC had set up a manual process to fulfill the compliance rules. Just like that, the compelling event vaporized.

    In the end, Peter had to calculate the effort needed for the workaround, and informed his prospect that the costs of the workaround would be much higher than buying from him.

    As a result, he was still able to close the deal on time.

    If You Want to Win, Don’t Assume Anything

    It’s too easy for us as human beings to interpret information and bridge gaps on our own to complete an incomplete picture. Hold yourself accountable on this one: Don’t assume anything.

    Confirm and reconfirm your findings with multiple contacts over at your client (including your Champion).

    Warning: A weak pain point or unclear consequences is a huge risk for your deals. It usually causes delays to your deals or lowers funding due to the lack of priority from executive management!

    And keep in mind that executive management will always ask the buying department some variation of the following questions:

    • Why do anything?
    • Why NOW?

    That’s why it’s critical to have these questions answered and confirmed by the client to avoid your deal from slipping at the last minute. (See 3 Simple Questions That Will Increase Your Close Rate for more info.)

    Conclusion

    Uncovering your client’s pain point and how you can solve it will ultimately decide whether your customer will pull the trigger and buy your product.

    And by qualifying these pain points and making sure they have a measurable impact which is confirmed by the client, you will have a solid foundation to build your deal on.

     

    Click here to find out how Pain Identification fits into the MEDDICC sales qualification methodology.

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