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Finding “pain” is core to the Sandler sales process. At first I found that offensive. Why would we deliberately look for what is making our potential clients uncomfortable? Is that not really creating dissatisfaction? Have we not swapped persuading people to do something through our positive merits for making them squirm so they have to act?

Then I realised that the real offence comes when we arrogantly assume we know what the prospect wants when we unilaterally decide what the solution should be and then get assertive when the prospect dives out of sight.

If we do not find out what the real issue is, we cannot be effective in fixing it. If the prospect does not know, or cannot articulate, the real seriousness of the problem, the client-to-be cannot appreciate our expertise. If we are determined to avoid painful questions but retreat to the safety of features and benefits, then we cannot have the right to be the only organisation they are talking to.

So “finding pain” is simply finding out what the problem is, how serious the problem is, and how that problem impacts the decision maker in front of us. They are unlikely to have experienced this ever before.

How we do that is through a simple set of questions, the famous “pain funnel”. To make sure the prospect understands that the best option to help create a solution with us, we need to go through those questions more than once, two, even better, three strong pains and the need to shop around starts to dissipate. Budget is easier to find, decision cycles are easier to implement, and the need for detailed presentations often disappears entirely.

Do you want to get good at these gentle, yet powerful questions? It needs a complete change in habit, but perhaps worth asking your local Sandler trainer?

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