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Greg Nanigian and Associates, Inc. | Braintree, MA,

So you’ve been establishing and building rapport with your prospects and now its time move deeper into the sales process and uncover their pain. But how do you do it smoothly without alarming your prospect?

One way to get a good conversation rolling after you’ve built rapport, bonded, and had a meaningful discussion about goals and problems is to ask prospects directly, “What is the impact of this situation on your company?”

Prospects usually only give out intellectual answers about issues in their business, and that’s okay. However, you are building trust with the person so you can lead them down the path of sharing their emotional pain with you when discussing serious problems in their business. By asking them how a problem effects them personally, you are delving deeper into the prospect’s private world. An effective way to do this is to ask, “I’m curious—what is the impact of this situation on you personally?”

Once you make it more personal, you’ll start uncovering the true pain (if there is any). When prospects start using words like “frustrated,” “uncertain,” “doubt,” “worry,” “angry,” “concern,” or “anxious”, you are heading in the right direction. The acronym we use for these powerful emotion-driven words is:  FUDWACA. It’s a strange word, but believe it or not, it will help you know when you are uncovering real pain—not just pain indicators.

F  –  Frustration
U  –  Uncertainty
D  –  Doubt
W –  Worry
A  –  Anger
C  –  Concern
A  –  Anxiety

Pain indicators are symptoms indicating there may be pain. For instance, a pain indicator might be, “My computer is running slow.” But, that’s not pain. Pain sounds like this: “I’m frustrated. Technical support is a week behind in fixing my computer so I’m way behind on my work because it’s taking five times as long to finish something as it ought to take.”

Finding your prospect’s pain is vital, and a core element of the Sandler Sales System. Once you’ve mastered the art of uncovering pain, you will dramatically increase the number of deals you close, and you will spend much less time chasing people who aren’t going to buy from you any ways.


Another important step in the process is follow through. Uncovering a prospect’s pain, but it all goes for naught, if you don’t follow-up and close the deal.  Your prospect trusts you enough to share pain, but you need to keep that pain alive, make them relive it, so you can implement your pain relieving solution. They are emotional when felling this pain, so they most likely will welcome your solution to rid themselves of this very real pain. Therefore, you need to ensure they’re committed enough to take action and follow through.

Guess what? Even if they buy now, if they’re not fully committed to solving the problem you may become a source of pain three or four weeks into the solution if you’re pushing harder to fix the problem than your prospects are. So, how do you figure out whether someone is truly committed?

Consider using consistency theory, which is another concept we use from the realm of psychology. Consistency theory states that people are statistically more likely to follow through on something when they state that they will, either verbally or in writing, before the moment of truth. Have you ever noticed that the most successful people write their goals down? That’s the consistency theory in action.

Here's an example of how to use consistency theory as you uncover pain.  Perhaps you have guided your prospect to a point in the sales cycle where he has shared pain about a problem you feel you can help to fix. At that point, you could ask, “On a scale of 0 to 10, what’s your level of commitment to seeing if there is a way to fix the problem?”  If the answer is anything less than 10, you’re not ready to proceed to the next step in the selling process. The prospect is offering a veiled objection—he or she is hesitant to actually make any changes that would relieve the pain. The prospect still is not 100% (or anything close to it) committed to seeing if there is a solution, so asking at this moment for the prospect to invest the time, money, and resources necessary to fix the problem is likely to fail.

 I’m sharing with you early in the process,  because it needs to happen early in the sales discussion. This is where the fight to close the deal lives.  Contrary to traditional approaches to selling, that fight doesn’t just happen at the end once you’ve presented your offer and go for the close. In fact, if you’ve gotten that far and you’ve done everything well up to that point, the close is pretty much guaranteed. But as you will see, there are many important preliminary points in the sales process where you must get full agreement, or find a way to eliminate the resistance or if you need to, disqualify the lead. 

Want more details about asking the right questions and using consistency theory?  Check out our upcoming workshops and sign-up for one at no cost to you. Here's a link to our Eventbrite page, where you can find a workshop on a date and at a location convenient for you.  Be sure to use the Promotional Code:  10Greg   to attend free of charge.

GNA Workshops on Evenbrite

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