Category: Habit of a Successful Salesperson

Send A Newsletter To Your Clients And Prospects

Send A Newsletter To Your Clients And Prospects

A newsletter is the best tool for maintaining a relationship with existing customers and qualified prospects that are uninterested at this time. I suggest that you send out your newsletter at least every quarter, but it would be more effective if you send it every month to your mailing list. I also suggest that you post your newsletter to LinkedIn using their blogging capability.

Of course, sending out a newsletter assumes that you are using a CRM to manage your relationships. If you aren’t using a CRM, you need to start immediately. I have written about CRM strategies in the past if you want a little more background.

Your customers should all receive your newsletter. Your customers need to be constantly cultivated for new business. Also, your customers may change jobs, and you want them to call you immediately. They will only do this if you have been consistently adding value to their working lives. Remember, the only way that you add value to a prospect is by making that prospect smarter. You can help an existing customer a few more ways by offering good customer service, but the most proactive method is to make them smarter.

It is not practical for me to put a template of a newsletter into this blog and have it be useful for every reader but below are some suggested sections:

  • Title/Subject: Make sure your title clearly states that this is a newsletter. Your title will be in your subject line of your email, and it will be at the top of your blog post on LinkedIn. You want your email recipients to know that this is an email to many people.
  • First section: A personal note of about 100-200 words on your industry or the local situation. Don’t be afraid to congratulate the local college for a great sports season. It should be personal and, if your prospects are local, it should be relevant to your geography.
  • Second section: News from your company. This literally could be a copy of a relevant or important press release. If someone in your product marketing group puts out a blog, that can be great content. Just make sure you include a URL link to the original content.
  • Third section: Links with a short description to download some new company content. Perhaps a new whitepaper was published, or a new video on YouTube.
  • Fourth section: This section contains selected paragraphs from a published article. This article should not mention your company but rather be about your industry. You don’t want this article to be a sales pitch, but rather it is included only to make your prospect smarter.
  • Fifth section: Links to upcoming events that you or your company is participating in. If you don’t have any events coming up in the next year, list a few links for events from your partners or maybe industry associations.
  • Sixth section: It may be relevant to have a bit of humor at the bottom of your newsletter. There are several open-source cartoons that you can embed. Of course, you need to be extremely careful that the humor is non-offensive to any demographic group and should be non-political. If you can’t do this well, skip the humor.
  • Seventh section: Give directions on how to unsubscribe and your contact information (including your physical address). This will help to keep you from being black listed by the various agencies that watch for spamming activities. If you use your CRM to create your newsletter or a campaign management tool (see below) then that template or tool should force you to put this into your newsletter.

Somewhere in the newsletter, either in the footer or in your opening section, make sure you invite people to connect to you on LinkedIn.

Building a newsletter is not difficult, but it may be a struggle for you depending on your skills or time constraints. There are a couple of tools that you can use:

  • Use your CRM: In many cases, your CRM will have tools built into the tool that will help you build and manage a newsletter. If it does, it will typically have a series of modifiable templates. This will make your delivery easier. Using that template, customize it to meet your company’s color scheme and then fill in the content on a monthly and quarterly basis.
  • Use a campaign management tool: Tools such as ActiveCampaign, Constant Contact, and Mailchimp are very easy to use if you are familiar with Microsoft Word. They each offer many templates that are easy to customize and save. They also easily accept a CSV import from your CRM or maybe Zapier has a direct integration between your CRM and the campaign management tool. If you want more options than the three that I listed here, simply search the web for “best newsletter tools” and you will see dozens of articles reviewing the industry. Don’t spend too much time reviewing all of the options though as no one is going to buy from you because you use one tool over another. They are all probably very good and you simply need to get used to the one that you choose.
  • Your email: Newsletters do not need to be highly formatted templates. In reality, you can simply create an email using your email client and then send it out your top prospects and customers. Just be very careful that you are not sending spam so don’t send more frequently than monthly. Also, if you use a simple email you should include a way for the receiver to unsubscribe from your list (and you should respect that request). It is better if you have a form that they can fill out but as a minimum you need to include similar to: “If you do not wish to receive this regular newsletter from me, please reply with UNSUBSCRIBE.”
  • Hire a service: There are many services available that will handle all of this work for you. Simply Google “marketing services” and then add your zip code and Google will give you several choices that are very close to you. If you don’t know someone in your immediate network that does marketing services, fill out my contact form and I will give you a couple of options of people that can help you that will do a great job. I personally do not offer this service but I have friends that do.

Start your newsletter today. Keep a schedule. The goal is to keep your name in front of as many people as possible and to start to establish yourself as a Trusted Adviser.

If you want to read more about creating a newsletter, there are probably thousands of articles giving you suggestions. Here are a few that are quite good:

  1. 7 Tips for Creating More Engaging Newsletters
  2. How to Create an Email Newsletter People Actually Read
  3. How to Write a Newsletter
Welcome To The Power Matrix

Welcome To The Power Matrix

As you meet people and develop a sales opportunity within your prospect, you need a tool to help you make sure you develop relationships with the correct people with the appropriate power and influence to help you.

The Power Matrix is a great tool to understand the organization. I promise you, if you can successfully fill out the Power Matrix in every account, you will be phenomenally successful.

There are two different versions of the Power Matrix. The Small Power Matrix is for deals that are relatively small. I advise salespeople that the cutoff for a smaller deal is one that is less than approximately 5-10% of your annual quota. This should be varied depending on the product that you sell and your industry in general, but it is unreasonable to use the Large Power Matrix (see below) more than 20 times in a fiscal year – it is just too much work for deals that are smaller than at least 5% of your annual quota.

The Small Power Matrix encourages you to map out nine different people at your prospect. These nine people are in three levels of the organization and three different departments. Graphically, the Small Power Matrix looks like Figure A.

Figure A – Small Power Matrix.

The people in this matrix are people who are in the Decision Group that you can learn about in other posts on this site or in my book Eliminate Your Competition (see below for info). They may not be all of the people, but they will be the most influential. If you think that your Decision Group is smaller than nine people, then I encourage you to do more investigation. There are very few decisions made by organizations that have fewer than nine people that are affected by the decision and therefore do not have an influence on that decision.

It is important to understand that the Power Matrix is not an organizational chart. Rather, it is an influence chart. These are the nine people most likely to influence the decision. Therefore, the end-user in Department 3 doesn’t have to specifically report to the coach’s level of Department 3. Rather, the end-user should respect the opinion of the coach and vice versa.

Similarly, the upper management of Department 3 may not necessarily have the Department Coach as a direct report. However, the upper management person must respect the opinion of the Coach in the Department.

The easiest way to understand the three levels is that people on the same horizontal row have virtually the same organizational power. One person may be a Director, and the other column may contain a Vice President, but that may not be a reflection of power. Often, titles are a reflection of employment tenure and not true power in the organization. It is not unusual for a very bright Director to have as much influence in an organization as a Vice President. This can be especially true between different Departments that may have larger or smaller communities. Don’t let titles sway your analysis; rather, observe the reactions and respect of others to make sure you have the correct person.

I like to put my primary Coach’s name in the center of the chart in the Department 2 column. The Department that the Coach belongs to will be the part of the organization that will most benefit from the final decision. Therefore the upper management person directly above the Coach should be your best possible Champion.

It is possible that your primary Coach is not in the department that will most benefit from the decision. If that is the case, you must consider that you need another Coach. A Coach is most effective when there is a direct personal gain from the decision. Since you can have multiple Coaches in any individual selling campaign, you should consider finding another Coach who is in the department with the most to gain.

In fact, everyone at the Coach level of the Power Matrix should be considered a Coach. One of the goals of the Power Matrix is to try to force you to develop three Coaches. The primary Coach will be the one who has the most to gain, but you should find and develop Coaches in other departments. You can never have enough Coaches to help you win your deal.

The Power Matrix is not an organizational chart, it is an influence chart

Large Power Matrix

The Large Power Matrix is very similar to the Small Power Matrix. The Large Power Matrix is used for sales opportunities that are forecasted to be more than 10% of your annual quota. In other words, these are decisions that, if guided correctly, could significantly enhance your earnings. With a reasonable win rate, it is doubtful that you would have to do more than 10 of the Large Power Matrix analyses in any given year.

The Small Power Matrix is a 3×3 matrix. It is asking you to have in-depth conversations with three people in three different departments. The Large Power Matrix is more of an investment in time; it is asking you to identify five people in five different departments. It is a 5×5 matrix and is shown in Figure B.

Figure B – Large Power Matrix

Similar to the Small Power Matrix, the Coach with the most to gain should go in the center of the Power Matrix. I encourage you to put Departments that have less to gain on the outside (columns 1 and 5) and those with more to gain next to the middle column.

In the Large Power Matrix, it is even more likely that it will not line up with an organizational chart. It is not uncommon to have several Vice Presidents and several Directors in any given department. The virtual influence on this one decision may be larger with one Director than another even though both are at the same organizational level. The more powerful person would be higher on the Power Matrix. Also, other Departments may not be devoting as many people to the effort, and therefore the rankings on any given column are different.

Below the Coach level are the end-users. In a larger decision, some end users will be more affected than others. Also, one end user may be asked to be involved in all aspects of the decision, but another will only be asked to occasionally help. The occasional user would be listed on the lowest row of the Power Matrix while the more active user would be listed closer to the Coach.

You should begin to use the Power Matrix to keep track of whom you know and how well you know them. You will need to put a plan together to meet and understand the people who are openings in your Power Matrix.

If you are confused about how to use the Large or Small Power Matrix, don’t hesitate to reach out to me via my contact form.

You can also get more information about the use of the Power Matrix by reading my book, Eliminate Your Competition. You may purchase my book, Eliminate Your Competition, from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

Header image by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Marketing And Sales Is Like Football

Marketing And Sales Is Like Football

In a complex B2B sale, the salesperson’s job is to enhance and personalize the marketing message for the buyer. The salesperson is supposed to deliver the information from the company to the decision-maker in a way that effectively shows the product and company in the best light for that particular prospect. 

The easiest way to show this is via a vector diagram. While I understand that vector mathematics may be scary for some readers, they are not that difficult to comprehend.

Figure A: Marketing message for commodity products.

As we can see in Figures A and B, the goal is to convince the prospect that the company’s product is the best product for this purchase. Marketing has to deliver content to all prospects, so it cannot perfectly align the message to the specific goals of the individual prospect. Also, since Marketing has no knowledge of which competitors are in play in that particular situation, they cannot efficiently deliver traps in most cases. Therefore, we see that the messaging from Marketing is not the shortest distance from your company to the finish line of winning the decision by the prospect.

In Figure A, the product sold is a commodity-type product. In this case, the marketing message is entirely adequate to convince the prospect to buy the product. Even though the message is not perfectly aligned to the prospect’s specific needs, the product’s benefits are sufficiently understood to get across the line.

In Figure B this is not the case. In Figure B, the message is still not perfectly aligned to the prospect’s needs, and it is not adequate to make a decision. It may not be enough information, and it also may not be the correct type of information. Therefore, a salesperson needs to fill in the information to cover the gap.

Figure B: Marketing and sales message for non-commodity products.

This information gap is why it is so important for salespeople to exist. They need to take the information that is created by the marketing department and efficiently deliver it to the prospect. Great salespeople need to package information so that the prospect can make the desired decision. 

It is impossible for the marketing department to create a targeted value pitch to every prospect. The more efficient the salesperson is in packaging this information to control the buying process, the more products that the salesperson will sell and the higher his or her commission.

The above analysis is not to give the marketing department a break in delivering fantastic content. It should be the goal of all marketing departments to provide content that can be easily repackaged and tuned to the needs of the trap-setting salesperson. The marketing department needs to acknowledge that they are unable to convince the majority of the prospects to make a favorable decision and understand that if they work with imaginative salespeople, sales will come more frequently.

Let me try to explain this with some sports metaphors. In American football, the quarterback and team don’t go straight down the field. They do a series of plays going left and right but always trying for a net forward position. Some plays will be a run to the left, a pass to the right, or a run up the middle. 

Football is very analogous to a sales campaign. The amount sideways that the player travels doesn’t matter. It is only the forward progress that matters. The goal of the football team is to advance the ball to cross the end line, and it doesn’t matter if that is through the middle of the field or in either corner.

Your goal is the same as the football team. You are responsible for getting the ball into the end zone or, more accurately, for closing the order. In football, the offensive team has the goal of moving the ball down the field to the touchdown. They have this goal if they receive the ball on their 49-yard line. They also have this goal if they receive the ball on their 2-yard line. The goal doesn’t change based on the position of the ball on the field. It also doesn’t change for you based on the quality or source of the lead.

By accepting that you cannot use the excuse of a bad marketing department in your success or lack thereof, you will become more successful. Your job is to take the leads that you receive and make them orders. Your job is to take the content that you receive from the marketing department and make it understandable and persuasive to your prospect. The ultimate failure is yours, not your marketing department. It is your job on the line. It is your commission on the line. You must take what marketing has prepared and use it to be successful.

It is not the fault of your marketing department if your literature and website are not perfect matches for your prospects. You need to bridge the gap between the standard marketing message and the fine-tuned and tailored message that will resonate with your prospect.

Take the ball and get it down the field to score. That is what you are paid to do. The great quarterbacks of the NFL do not complain that they always get the ball on their own 15-yard line. They put a plan together and do everything in their power and the power of their team to score a touchdown. You need to do the same. You need to do the same thing because there is no crying in sales.

Curiosity May Not Kill The Cat, But It Definitely Kills Your Quota

Curiosity May Not Kill The Cat, But It Definitely Kills Your Quota

Salespeople are often told to “pitch” their products and services. This is ineffective because it leaves the prospect feeling like they were manipulated and ignored. Instead, the successful salesperson should use curiosity; curiosity is an emotion that encourages people to find out more about you or your company. 

If you want to increase your success rate at closing deals with prospects, try incorporating curiosity into your conversation by asking open-ended questions.

Podcaster Robert Gillette recently interviewed me for his podcast, Reclaiming Sales. In that podcast (which you can listen to here and read the transcript here), I said that salespeople fail because they are not curious.

Some sales trainers will encourage salespeople to be incredibly knowledgeable about a prospect’s business to show situational awareness. In almost all cases, this is a bad strategy. Why would you know more about how that company runs than the managers of the company do? To suggest that you are more capable of running your prospect’s company than they are leaves you open to appearing overly pompous. It is much better to be humble and ask sincere questions about their operations.

“You make more friends in two months by becoming genuinely interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie

For decades, marketers have known that the best way to keep someone’s attention is by piquing their curiosity. If they’re interested in what you’ve got, they’ll stick around and interact with your message. It seems like such a simple idea, but it’s one of the most powerful tools in marketing today.

The same principle of generating curiosity applies to salespeople, too: if prospects are curious about what we can offer them, they will be more likely to invest time working with us on their request or inquiry than not engaging at all. For this technique to work, though, there has to be something worth being curious about–something that captures people’s imagination.

Recent research suggests that salespeople who are curious about their prospects and customers are more likely to close deals than those who only focus on what they need from them. Curiosity helps us get our prospect’s perspectives to understand better how they think and why they act as they do, which allows us to connect with them on an emotional level and make them want to buy from us.

Salespeople have a unique ability to create curiosity. They can do this by asking insightful, thought-provoking questions that pique the interest of their prospects and customers. To maximize their success in creating curiosity, salespeople must be knowledgeable about what they are selling and how it can benefit the customer or prospect. A salesperson creates curiosity when there is an air of mystery with an underlying promise of satisfaction for those who invest time learning more about the product or service.

The best salespeople create curiosity and capture the attention of their prospects. They do this by creating a dialogue about themselves, their company, or the product they’re selling. You accomplish this through storytelling, humor, and empathy. These are the three legs of your offering that I often discuss on this site.

There are a few ways to use your presentation skills to engage with your audience and generate curiosity. Here are some examples:

  • Quote someone famous, like Warren Buffet or Bill Gates, who has said something about their business
  • Give them a story from just last week or last month where they helped someone solve a problem they were having
  • Ask, “What are your biggest business challenges?”
  • Ask, “How do you measure success in your organization?”
  • Ask, “How did you justify that old purchase to your executives?”
  • Ask, “What’s essential in life for you?”
  • Ask, “How do you feel when this happens?”
  • Ask, “How does that work?”
  • Ask, “How did you decide to do it that way?”

In addition, by asking prospects about their company’s goals, salespeople can better understand how they work and what tools they need to succeed.

If you’re a salesperson, it’s essential to know the business problems your customers are facing. That way, you can make sure that what you offer will be relevant and valuable to them. It also helps if you have some ideas for solutions. At least have a list of questions about what they’re looking to accomplish and their company and personal goals. The more information you have about their needs, the better you’ll identify potential solutions and put together a tailored proposal specifically for them. So next time someone asks, “What do I need?” remember these three key points:

  1. Ask why they need it;
  2. Figure out how this will help solve their problem;
  3. Make sure it fits with other items on their agenda.
Read Every Day To Become An Expert In Sales

Read Every Day To Become An Expert In Sales

In my recent interview with Brian Burns for his podcastThe Brutal Truth, I challenged salespeople to read more. We didn’t explore the content that salespeople should read, though, and this post will dig into that question.

Self-development expert Brian Tracy tells us, “If you read only one book per month, that will put you into the top 1 percent of income earners in our society.” Now, imagine if you read one book a week what will happen.

Earl Nightingale said many years ago:

One hour per day of study in your chosen field is all it takes. One hour per day of study will put you at the top of your field within three years. Within five years you’ll be a national authority. In seven years, you can be one of the best people in the world at what you do.

If you read one hour a day in your chosen field, that translates into one book a week. One book per week translates into roughly 50 books a year. Do that for five years, and you have read 250 books in your field. You will quickly become an expert in your area.

What should you read?

I do not recommend that you focus on one thing and become an expert at it if you are in sales. I think that an expert in sales is an expert at understanding and influencing the motivations of people. To do that, you need to have a very rounded understanding of your world, the people you interact with, and your prospects’ needs and goals.

I suggest you break up your reading to cover these three topics.

  1. Selling – you are a salesperson, so you should read about improving your skills.
  2. The World – you should be knowledgeable about the world around you to relate to your prospects and customers.
  3. Your Industry – you should know more about your industry and the technology driving your industry than anyone you meet.

Read about selling

Your world is different from mine. I don’t know what you sell, but if you are reading this blog, you must be in sales or desire to be in sales. So let’s start there: spend every day reading five blog posts. It is a good start being here at this post, but I do not put out five articles a day.

There are two great ways to find five sales articles per day. You can subscribe to Feedly (or a similar RSS aggregator) and subscribe to the RSS feeds to some of the best sales blogs. If you don’t like RSS feeds, create a list on Twitter that gets feeds from the best sales blogs.

In my opinion, the best sales blogs today are:

Read about the world.

It is crucial that you understand what is going on in the world. It is especially important to understand what is happening in the business world since you are in business.

There are only two choices for reading what is happening in the business world. Pick one of the two newspapers and read five articles in it every day. I subscribe to the Wall Street Journal (and have for decades). It is the larger of the two in the US and has a wide readership among US business leaders.

Read about your industry.

It isn’t easy to give you great suggestions for your industry. The easiest way to provide you with assistance is to explain how I pay attention to the sectors I watch.

The method below uses Flipboard, but it would also work with other content aggregators such as Google News and Apple News.

Every day, I spend time on Flipboard and read at least five articles (and usually 15-20 articles) on the interesting industries and technologies. I will save the best of these articles in my bookmarks file and occasionally forward them to prospects and customers.

I do this by going to the Flipboard Topic listing and adding necessary technologies to this list. Once you have an account, you can go to https://flipboard.com/following/topics. However, adding topics is easier using their app, which you can download to your Android phone or your iPhone (or their tablets). Once you have your app setup, follow these steps:

  • Open the app and tap the Following tab.
  • Swipe across to Topics and choose Find More Topics to Follow, and you’ll see the topic picker. Select topics that interest you, or use the search feature for diving even deeper.
  • Select Done when you’re finished.

Return to the topic picker from time to time to keep personalizing your Flipboard with new and exciting content.

Don’t stop learning.

I will be giving more tips on getting more content to make you a better salesperson. Subscribe to my newsletter so that you never miss my content.

Brian Tracy and Earl Nightingale talked about reading books, and I spent most of this article talking about reading articles. Reading books is essential as well, and I must recommend my book, Eliminate Your Competition.

You may purchase my book, Eliminate Your Competition, from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as AmazonBarnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

6 Types Of Bad Salespeople

6 Types Of Bad Salespeople

Selling is a difficult career in which to make a living; it is not uncommon to have the commission check denied before the salesperson even gets a chance to win. Analysis of thousands of sales situations has made it phenomenally obvious that most salespeople begin their sales campaign so late in the decision-making process that they are virtually guaranteed to lose the order. To make matters worse, when they do start the campaign early enough, most salespeople do not know how to control the prospect adequately so that they can guarantee their victory.

Typical turnover for a sales department is 10-20%. Many companies see turnover that approaches 40-60%! This turnover costs them 50% of their revenue-generating capability. In any organization that exceeds 25% turnover, the loss of trust with the customer can be astounding as the new salesperson tries to rebuild the entire relationship. Further, a salesperson who is making quota is probably not going to leave the company. Excessive turnover means that for six to eighteen months before leaving, the territory was not performing well and then the salesperson left. To make matters worse, this lack of performance is followed by weeks (and maybe months) of no coverage (or little coverage) as a replacement is found, trained, and starts to become productive.

Other organizations such as accounting or manufacturing in the company see a turnover that is under 10%. Why is selling so difficult that two to ten times as many people fail in the profession compared to any other profession? My book is designed to reduce or eliminate this problem by explaining how to be successful in the sales profession.

In any given quarter dozens or hundreds of companies do not make their forecasted numbers and are dramatically punished by Wall Street. My book will provide the management of a company with a framework to teach their salespeople how to attain their quotas with higher profits. It will also allow salespeople to rise to the top of their organization and be the super-achievers who win awards, trips, bonuses, and respect.

Most sales strategies on the market do an excellent job of trying to teach the salesperson how to align the vision between the vendor and the customer. The overall problem with this is that just because your ‘vision’ aligns with the prospect does not necessitate that you will win the order; after all, your competitors know how to align vision as well. Hence, we must take the process to the next step; we must learn how to eliminate our competition so that the customer has little choice but to buy our solution. This strategy results in higher win rates and higher levels of profitability.

I thought this infographic summed up the bad behavior of salespeople. If you want to truly be a successful salesperson, I suggest you read my book and subscribe to this site (newsletter sign-in is on the right side of this page). You may purchase my book, Eliminate Your Competition, from your favorite book retailer. The ebook version is available at the most popular retailers such as Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble. The paperback version is also widely available at such retailers as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books A Million.

The above infographic evidently first appeared on RingLead’s site.

If You Don’t Have Five Reasons To Buy Then Take It Off Your Forecast

If You Don’t Have Five Reasons To Buy Then Take It Off Your Forecast

I am always amazed that so many VPs of Sales do not interrogate their teams on the “needs gap” during pipeline review meetings.

A prospect’s “needs gap” is the difference between where the prospect wants to be (their goal) and where they are. The more significant that difference, the more likely the deal will get funded.

If a team cannot identify five reasons why the prospect has a gap between where s/he is and where s/he wants to be, there is a high likelihood that there will not be an order. You need to take it off the Commit List and put it on the Upside List. Organizations do not buy because of pain (“I wish we didn’t have to deal with this problem”); they invest because they want to change their situation – a “needs gap” between where they are and where they want to be (“We absolutely need to do this so that we can achieve nirvana”).

In a business-to-business (B2B) sale, there are many decision-makers. You need to have five reasons for a deal to happen so that one or two of those reasons don’t get killed by someone else in the organization. Your risk is that the one remaining reason to buy from you may not be enough. However, your risk is much higher if you depend on only one positive outcome to justify a purchase.

As depicted in the below image, not all of the reasons will be equally important. That is fine. The important thing is that you have at least five reasons to buy from you.

You should have at least five reasons why your prospect is going to buy from you

When people decide to spend their own (or their company’s) money, they do so because their goals do not align with their reality. They wish that they were in a different situation. Their desire to be in that situation is acute enough that they are willing to invest their time and money to get closer to that goal.

Many people discuss ‘pain’ as the reason that people buy. This belief is not entirely true. Pain is the result of not realizing goals. Therefore, ‘pain’ is a ‘lagging indicator’ of the situation. In a competitive situation where there are no Trappers, pain may be a tremendous driving force. Trappers try to get ahead of the problem and drive the buyer into a conducive situation to win the order. If you wait for ‘pain’ to occur, you run the risk of involving many more competitors and being much later in the sales process. Instead, you want to control the process, which means that you want to discuss the goals of both the organization and the individual people.

Pain is the result of unrealized goals.

In addition to ‘pain’ being a secondary and lagging situation, it also has very negative connotations. It is much harder to discuss an individual’s ‘pains’ than discussing the individual’s goals. Goals have a very positive feel and therefore make you a valued partner to the prospect.

A similarity from your everyday life: if you have knee pain, you may see a doctor. You and your insurance company will likely give the doctor money to cure that pain; the transaction does not give you a positive feeling about the doctor. You never had a goal of having surgery or physical therapy – it is more of a necessary evil. 

Another example is that you may have a goal of getting into shape and losing weight and, therefore, joining the local gym. You are more likely to develop a long-term friendship with that gym and its employees. You will likely have a better feeling about the gym than your doctor in the paragraph above, even though you may give them much more money over the term of your membership. The people working in the gym help you get to your goal, whereas the doctor is solving a problem or a ‘pain.’

Pain means that something is broken. It causes a negative feeling. While it may be prevalent in this age of social media to whine and complain about broken things, it does not create excitement or enjoyment. The excitement only comes when you are trying to achieve a goal.

The athletes on your favorite sports team don’t work hard in practice because they want to avoid the pain of losing. Instead, they work hard because they want to win. Winning is the goal. The desire to accomplish a goal allows everyone to be motivated and work hard. Talking about pain with an athlete is to talk about losses, strenuous practices, and injury. The athlete is much more motivated talking about the game wins and the plans to win the next games. The same is true with your prospect.

Pain is also not the reason to choose one product over another. Pain may justify the purchase, or it may start an evaluation process. If all the reviewed products solve the problem, then ultimately, price and ‘terms and conditions’ will be the deciding factors. However, most evaluations are more concerned about goals and achieving those goals. If your pain is that you have a broken TV, then any TV should solve your pain. Suppose your goal is to watch sporting events and feature films on the best-looking and best-sounding audiovisual system on the market. In that case, your list may be more detailed.

Similarly, suppose your pain is that you cannot get to work in the morning. In that case, hundreds of automobiles and some public transportation options will solve your problem. If you have a goal of getting to work in a sporty red convertible, you will eliminate many of those choices. In that case, you need a car salesperson to help you meet your goals. You will also pay more for attaining your goals than just solving your pain. 

The chosen product will match the goals of the prospect, not just the pains of the prospect.

In sales, we can use this to our benefit. We will center our initial questioning and needs development with our prospect on goals and the ability (or inability) to reach those goals. By doing this with the Discoverer (a role that we will discuss later in the book), we have the advantage of being a long-term and trusted ally. As the sales process evolves, other vendors are brought in to ascertain their possible remedies. Still, the prospect sees them as solutions to a problem (pain) that you have helped them identify because their reality was not the same as their goal. You, on the other hand, are a trusted confidant who only has their best interest at heart, and you are willing to guide them as they explore their goals.

The key points to remember are that you need to go after the prospect’s goals and document at least five reasons why you can help the company achieve those goals. One reason is not enough. The more reasons that you have, the more likely the deal will close in your favor.

Header Photo by Icons8 Team (Unsplash)

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