Having analyzed successful sales practices at more than 250 firms over the last 20 years, we’ve seen one key practice that differentiates average sales performers from great ones–their ability to uncover and then magnify prospect/client pain (needs) to avoid sales stalls and motivate action. Indeed, any decent salesperson can sell within the customer’s time frame, educate them about their products and answer questions. But great sales performers accelerate their prospect’s buying process by resisting the temptation to talk about their products or services until they are convinced the prospect has a pressing need for them and has a clear picture of both the financial payoffs and intangible benefits.
In one study, prospective customers met with three salespeople selling similar products. The majority bought from the salesperson who waited the longest to discuss his or her product and and who explained how specific product features addressed major sources of client pain. Judging by the tendency salespeople have to quickly engage in product conversations, many must believe the opposite–that customers buy more often from sellers who appear anxious to talk about their product and to close a “deal.” This notion is rarely true and often leads to sales stalls. In short, people generally feel most comfortable and trusting of those who have listened to them and understand their needs prior to recommending products and services. An anxiousness to “get the sale” may give the appearance that the salesperson or vendor may be hard up for sales or is trying to achieve their own goals without placing a high priority on satisfying each and every important customer need.
Sales stalls occur, in part, due to people resisting change and avoiding negative consequences. Great salespeople help clients reduce pain and become excited by change. But this strategy is not possible when clients don’t perceive they have significant needs, and sales stalls are likely to occur. Evidence of sales stalls includes clients saying “let me think about it” or not returning calls after seeing product information or demonstrations. Fearing that the product or service may cost them rather than save them money, sales stalls occur and customers behave cautiously and negotiate more. So, what’s the bottom line? In sales, like in any exercise or sport, NO PAIN = NO GAIN !!!