Pain-based selling

o62ixcI’m pleased to report that Peppercomm won a new account last week as a direct result of pain-based selling.

What’s pain-based selling, you ask?

Well, PBS is an approach to business development that we brought to market in partnership with a sales training firm known as Harte Associates (and led by the lovely, and talented, Dr. Richard Harte).

Pain-based selling is both simple and subtle at the same time. Once one is engaged in a conversation with a prospect, probe for the following:

1.) Ask her the single biggest business issue keeping her up at night. In last week’s case, it was an unhappy relationship with the incumbent agency. The latter was missing deadlines and embarrassing the client in front of her direct reports.

2.) Once you’ve uncovered the pain, pour salt on the wound. I know that sounds like something an NFL player might do to a family member, but bear with me. In this instance, we asked the prospect what would happen if she didn’t find a quick solution to her pain points. The answer was direct and to the point: ‘My team and I could lose our jobs,’ she said.

3.) Ease the pain. We quickly reassured the CCO that we had faced many situations just like her’s. We presented two or three quick case studies that demonstrated a similar problem, our solution and the subsequent results. The prospect’s non-verbal responses were positive to say the least.

4.) Partnering. At this point, we’d completely improvised, uncovered the pain, made it worse and then provided a solution. So, we asked the critical question, ‘Assuming we can assemble a team with the experience to solve your challenges, would you be willing to partner with us?’ The answer was affirmative. We left with a purchase order and confirmation that, once again, pain-based selling can be a very smart approach to closing a deal.

McGraw-Hill thought enough of pain-based selling that they commissioned Dick Harte and me to write a book about it. The book’s now been translated into seven or eight languages and earned me upwards of $17.38. It also serves as a superb paperweight.

As for pain-based selling, try it. You’ll like it.

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