How can you accelerate the sale? By establishing early in the sale, through asking insightful questions, the buyer’s real pain point.

We buy a product or service to solve a problem.  However, we rarely articulate the problem to the seller which makes his job that bit more complicated. For instance, we ask for a drill but what we need is a hole in the wall; the buyer says they want a training course in writing skills but turns out it’s a course in report writing that they want; or, they say they want a software installation, but what they really want is to assert their political power-in fact, it turns out that Microsoft Excel would have just as easily solved their problem.

Doctor’s approach

Yes; navigating the buyer’s interpretation of his problem is every seller’s challenge; one much more complicated than a doctor doing a prognosis for the cause of your headache. And yet identifying the buyer’s (real) pain and not the one presented (the headache) is indispensable to accelerating and sustaining the sale. It puts pressure on the buyer when you ask the business equivalent of, “Would you like the throbbing headache to go away?”

Important but not urgent

But wait! The answer to that could be a resounding, “Yes!” but that does not mean that they will sign up immediately. Remember the one time medical insurance provider’s provocative adverts? The on which had a mother telling her son to bear the headache till the end of the month, when she would receive her salary and take him to hospital then? Yes; knowing his pain does not equate to the buyer craving to resolve it immediately.

It could be waiting to be included in the budget for the next financial year, for instance; or, a regulatory approval; or, a divorce to be final. The seller’s job therefore becomes to get a sense of the buyer’s priority and commitment to solving his pain.  A simple question like, “What are some of the things you are struggling with that would prevent you from ‘relieving the headache’, right away?” could reveal this.

The revelation gives insight into the next step. You get to understand their short term key objectives. The truth is that not all challenges will be their top priority. Just as a parent may prioritize paying school fees to rent, knowing what is stopping the buyer from assuaging his pain right away,  lets the seller make this innocuous statement: “To save time ahead of the divorce becoming final (or the board sitting) let us do all the paperwork first. We can continue with the purchase (or not) once the dust settles.”

Or, “Let us install the free 30-day trial version now and be done with the demo.” Or, “Because the upper classes are not affected by the new curriculum, let us cater to them first and revisit the lower classes after we have direction from the Ministry. Is this ok?”


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