This morning, I had a conversation with an entrepreneur. He was building the sales capability, scaling the growth of the company. He discussed a problem I hear from too many sales people:
“We have great first meetings. We understand the customer pain points, we talk about how our solution can help them…. But after the first meeting, they go dark. When we finally get them to respond, they’ve shifted their focus to the latest crisis….. How do we keep them focused on the issues we discussed?”
It’s a common problem. Sales people have great first meetings, but they lose momentum. The customer’s attention gets diverted, they move on to the next thing, their priorities shift. Often, sales people have to start all over, establishing pain…., but the cycle repeats itself.
It’s not bad intent on the part of the customer. They are overwhelmed. They move from on crisis to the next. From one “interesting project,” to the next. They start a lot of things, with great intentions, those get re-prioritized, they move on to something else.
Part of it is our problem. If we’ve done our job correctly, we’ve understood the customer’s “pain,” we’ve painted a vision of how they can address those issues, and, hopefully, gotten their agreement to learn more.
But we’ve missed something critical. We may not have translated that pain into a compelling need to change. We haven’t helped the customer see they can’t continue as they are. We haven’t gotten them to say, “This is unacceptable, we have to change!”
The part we miss is translating their pain points into business impact. We haven’t gotten the customer to bridge the pain/challenges they see to Dollars/Euros/Pounds/Yuan.
In the conversation with the entrepreneur, this morning, we quickly looked at one of his opportunities. The problem the customer faced cost them $150K per month. He suddenly realized the customer and he didn’t understand the magnitude of the problem, that solving it could save them $1.8M per year.
When we tie the customer’s pain to the business impact, translating that into Dollars–cost, revenue, lost opportunity, profit/margin–we have a stronger possibility of keeping the customer focused on addressing that issue.
The pain is something they have lived with, otherwise they would have done something before. Translating that pain into business impact can dramatically increase the sense of urgency and commitment to do something.
This not only helps provoke the customer into committing to a change, but through the buying process, when they sometimes get distracted, we can come back to that business impact, gently reminding them what they are trying to achieve and what it means from a business point of view.
Understanding the customer pain is the starting point. We need to translate that pain into business impact.