OK, maybe misery is too dramatic, but at its core, unless our customers are “miserable” we will never be successful in selling them.
This morning I was having a conversation with a sales person in a healthcare related company. We were discussing his sales strategies, value propositions, and how to get customers to buy. Finally, possibly in frustration, I blurted out, “Your services create value for people in misery. If they aren’t in misery, you’re wasting your time and their time.” In hindsight, I felt a little like Gordon Gecko declaring “Misery is good!”
As crass as it sounds, all of selling is really about addressing and relieving “misery.” If our customers, whoever they are–CEO’s, CIO’s, CFO’s, Engineering, Manufacturing, whatever aren’t in “misery,” we will never convince them to buy.
A lot of my early training in sales taught me to focus on “finding the pain.” It’s a useful metaphor, that’s fallen a little out of disfavor.
I get it, technically, to find the pain, the people we are dealing with have to recognize they are in pain, they have to describe the pain, and they want to get rid of it. Selling 101.
Finding the pain has been displaced by Insight, though in reality Insight is just the other side of the “pain coin.” Insight is really about helping the customer realize they are in pain–though they may not have recognized they have a pain. Insight gives them the tools to recognize the pain, to describe it, and help create the urgency to do something about it.
So whether we are solving problems, giving Insight, presenting solutions–we’re really all about finding the pain or exploiting our customers’ misery.
Presented that way, it sounds awfully callous and manipulative. It may be callous, but as sales people we offer the solution to that pain. Often, it’s hope or a vision—If we do these things we will be able to address these opportunities and grow. If we do this, we will be able to improve our operations and become more efficient. It has to eliminate or reduce their misery or pain. It has to provide relief or a way out.
I think the challenge too many sales people face is they are calling on happy customers and prospects. They aren’t miserable, they have no pain. If we keep asking about the pain or misery, they look at us, eyes crossed, “What are you saying? We’re happy, nothing’s wrong!”
If we are unable to provide the Insight to get them to say, “Things aren’t as good as they should be! We’re in pain, we need to change,” then we waste our time and that of the customers. (OK. we can become pains in the A**, but customers have easy solutions to that.)
So crass as it seems, revel in your customers’ misery and pain. Make sure they understand it, make sure they can describe it, make sure they want to do something about it–urgently. Without this, you have nothing to sell.