From Annoying Marketer to Peer and Partner: The Benefits of Pain Solution Selling

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Pain solution selling, is a sales technique that focuses on identifying a customer’s pain points and offering solutions that directly address those problems. This approach to selling is based on the idea that people are more likely to make a purchase when they feel that the product or service being offered will alleviate their specific concerns.

Seasoned commercial sales professionals know how hard it is to get people to change their behavior. Unless they’re having a painful experience with their current vendor, most operations leaders won’t switch. The perceived hassle outweighs any possible benefit.

The first step in pain solution selling is to understand the customer’s past experience. This requires active listening and asking curious questions to uncover the pain points that are most important to the customer. For example, a salesperson selling software might ask a potential customer about their current workflow and where they are experiencing the most friction or inefficiency. In restoration, often pain is tied to a company’s frequency and quality of communication during a damage event. 

There are three ways to think about a prospects pain- or three different types: 

  1. Negative or stressful past experiences- previous experiences that ended negatively or weren’t sufficiently resolved
  2. Unmet preferences- the customer or prospect has a feature or service level they desire, that their current vendor has been unable or unwilling to meet. 
  3. Recurring service failures by current vendor- slow to respond, unorganized, unprofessional communication, lack of skill, off-putting appearance, unexplained billing, project timelines drag on and on

Once the pain points have been identified, the salesperson can present solutions that address those specific concerns. It’s important to remember that the solutions being offered should be tailored to the customer’s needs, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. This may require some customization or tweaking of the product or service being sold to meet the customer’s requirements. 

This is especially true selling to commercial decision-makers. And while it doesn’t mean we create custom products or services for every customer- the pain point we’re selling to, and the way we communicate the solution may be different each time. 

One of the key benefits of pain solution selling is that it allows the salesperson to establish a strong rapport with the customer- it puts us on the same side of the table as the prospect. By demonstrating an understanding of the customer’s frustrations and preferences and then offering tailored solutions, the salesperson is experienced as a peer or partner rather than a glad-handing salesperson or smily marketer. This can significantly accelerate the building of trust and the overall development of the relationship with prospects and existing customers alike. 

Of course, pain solution selling is not without its challenges. It requires a high degree of empathy and active listening skills, as well as the ability to think creatively and connect the prospect’s pain with concrete and specific solutions. It often requires a different personality and skill set than the “smiles and candy” approach that our industry has defaulted to in the past. 

Despite these challenges, however, pain solution selling can be an effective way to build relationships with customers and drive more revenue. Here are some best practices for implementing pain solution selling in your sales process:

  1. Listen actively and ask curious questions. To identify a customer’s pain points, you need to be an active listener. This means asking open-ended questions and then following up with more specific questions to get to the heart of the customer’s concerns. Be curious about every aspect of their role and their business. Not all your questions have to be about restoration. In fact, they shouldn’t be. 
  2. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Pain solution selling often requires custom solutions that are tailored to the customer’s needs. This may require some creative thinking on your part, so don’t be afraid to brainstorm ideas and get feedback from others on your team.
  3. Be patient. Pain solution selling can seem more time-consuming than other approaches, as it requires more in-depth conversations with potential customers. What you discover in the long-run though, is it produces far more predictable results.
  4. Follow up and stay in touch. Building long-term relationships with customers requires ongoing communication and follow-up. The curious questions and pain solution selling don’t stop after we get the first job- we’re always teasing out the pain and preferences to fine-tune our service delivery and deepen the customer’s loyalty to us. 
  5. Don’t be pushy. Pain solution selling is about understanding the customer’s needs and offering tailored solutions, not pushing a particular product or service. Be sure to respect the customer’s decision-making process and provide them with the information they need to make an informed decision. Not every prospect is getting crumby service from their current vendor. Hang in there- eventually the prospect will need a back up or a fresh alternative. 

In conclusion, pain solution selling is a powerful sales technique that can help build strong relationships with customers and generate revenue over and over again. By actively listening to customer concerns, discovering their pain and then offering tailored solutions, salespeople can position themselves as trusted peer partners for their commercial prospects. 

And that’s where the real magic happens- when our prospects see us as a legitimate part of their team. A go-to resource. A reliable option. Everyone wants to be that pocket contractor. And pain solution selling is the path to get there. 

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Chris Nordyke

Chris began his business career in direct sales, selling Cutco Knives for Vector Marketing at age 19 while going to school. He was a personal sales leader, and subsequently a Top 20 branch office manager in Los Angeles, directly responsible for all recruiting, training, team development and revenue across a team of more than 40 sales reps.

Vector proved to be a foundational training ground in entrepreneurship, team-building, and sales leadership that Chris continues to draw on in his work with restoration teams. 

Chris’s primary B2B sales training came during his tenure as a Contract Sales Rep for Cintas Corporation, a Fortune 500 laundry services firm. Here, Chris was introduced to Requirements Based Selling (RBS) which informed the Pain-Solution selling model Chris continues to use today with clients. 

Prior to joining Summit Cleaning and Restoration in 2014, Chris spent 8 years with State Farm Companies, 5 of which he spent owning and running a successful agency. 

From 2014 to late 2019, Chris served on Summit’s leadership team overseeing all business development and marketing with a special emphasis on developing Summit’s customer experience and service culture. He’s a founder and Co-host of the Head Heart & Boots podcast, co-founder of the Floodlight Consulting Group, and co-founder of the Floodlight Leadership Circles. Chris resides in the beautiful state of Oregon with his wife of 20 years, Cara, and their 3 children- Lily, Jack and Simon.

Email Chris at: chris@floodlightgrp.com

Listen to the Head Heart and Boots Podcast on Apple iTunes and Spotify.

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