You know that you have a great product; your customers tell you so. You are enthusiastic about your product or service and you know that your energy comes across in sales calls. You have a list of all the benefits your product brings to the table. You have even researched the competition and are ready to respond to any objections. So why aren’t you closing more deals?
Perhaps it’s because you haven’t matched what you offer to the prospect’s pain points as part of lead qualification.
Solution selling is about more than finding qualified leads; it’s about understanding their pain points and timing so you can offer a solution to alleviate their pain. A solution sales pitch starts with the prospect’s problem and then moves to how you can help solve that problem. When researching prospects, you need to focus on understanding their current challenge so you can better serve them.
Appreciating Points of Pain
Pain points are not always easy to identify. Sometimes, the pain point may be a minor irritation so you have to watch for subtle indicators, such as a small complaint in an email exchange or something small you noted during the lead qualification process. Whatever the issue is, it’s creating a problem for the customer or prospect and whether they admit it or not, they want it corrected.
If you can act as a sympathetic listener, as you conduct a needs analysis, you will be able to spot the irritants. Then you can step in as an agent of change with a solution to the problem.
Identifying one issue is likely to lead to another, which gives you an opportunity to continue addressing their pain points. As a solution provider, your job is to continue to identify pain points as they emerge and offer remedies offered by your products or services.
Lead Qualification: Where Does It Hurt?
Uncovering pain points needs to be a primary part of your lead qualification process. Your customers may all have common pain points, such as reducing costs, shortening time to market, or increasing sales. It’s the root cause behind those pain points that you will need to address. That’s why you need to do some qualitative research.
Remember that pain points are subjective. Qualitative research will tell you more because it focuses on individual responses to open-ended questions. With quantitative research, you may get customers and prospects to tick the same boxes, but you won’t learn the underlying causes for their pain points.
Your best means of qualitative research is interaction: Ask your customers what they need. People are usually more than willing to talk about what is bothering them. If you engage in a meaningful conversation, you can learn quite a bit. Hold back on the impulse to share your product with the lead during this phase. Continue to ask questions and gain a better understanding of the need.
Of course, getting the information you need requires you to listen. Active listening is a skill that the best sales professionals master; it can be your most valuable tool. Active listening requires you to pay attention to the other person and focus on what they are saying, rather than waiting to talk about the next product benefit. Active listening is about empathy and understanding, building rapport and trust by actually hearing and acknowledging what they say. With a few simple techniques, you can get people to trust you and open up and talk more freely. For example, pay close attention to the speaker and acknowledge what they are saying, either verbally or with an occasional nod. Restate what they are saying to show interest and ask questions, such as “What I am hearing is…” The goal is to acknowledge what the other party is saying without judgment, validating that they have been heard.
Another source of qualitative data is your sales team. They are engaging with customers and prospects every day, and their insights can help you understand and address pain points for your prospects and customers. For example, if your peers are encountering similar objections or roadblocks, ask them how they overcame those obstacles. See if they share your experiences dealing with customers and prospects and learn from their experience.
Solution Selling to Alleviate Pain
As you go through the lead qualification process, remember that people share common areas of pain even though the specific causes may differ. The most common categories for frustration include:
- Financial: Customers want to reduce their spending because their current solution, provider, or product is either too expensive or costing them money elsewhere.
- Productivity: They are wasting time because their current solution, provider, or product isn’t efficient enough.
- Process: They feel their process is broken in some way and they need a different or new solution to improve efficiency.
- Support: They lack adequate help or support at critical stages in the customer journey, whether it’s during installation, an upgrade, or some other critical business juncture.
There may be other areas where pain points emerge, but most will fall somewhere in these four categories. Mapping your solution to these categories will make it easier to address the customer’s problems. If they are financial, for example, can you argue for ROI or price. If the issue is efficiency, how does your solution improve their process?
If you can step in with the right solution to solve the customer’s problem, then you have made a long-term sale. Solution selling is about building trust and partnering with the customer to achieve a common goal. You are offering as solution during their search to alleviate a problem, and when you solve their problem, they will come back again, looking to you to relieve their next pain point.