October 24, 2010

Pain Points, More Potent Than Wish Lists

Organizations are all interested in what sells—what’s hot and what’s not!

Of course, as advertisers learned long ago, “sex sells.”

What else? Fear sells. All the basic emotions seem to selleverything from affection and anger to wonder and worry.

When people experience an emotional drive, their internal (biochemical) and external (environmental) states elicit a psychophysiological response that drives mood and motivation.

The result is that when effectively selling to people’s emotions, we address or meet their explicit or implicit “pain points.”

Fast Company (November 2010) has an interesting article called “The Felt Need” that differentiates wants from genuine needs.

A want is one thing, but a genuine need or “pain point” is something entirely different. Getting something we want may be satisfying a nice to have on our wish list, but getting rid of a pain point is something that we literally crave to fulfill from physiological and/or psychological motivations.

A good analogy to satisfying people’s wants versus needs is that it’s better to be selling aspirins than vitamins, because “vitamins are nice; they’re healthy [and people want to live healthier]. But aspirin cures your pain…it’s a must-have.”

Similarly, the article tells us that just building a better mousetrap, doesn’t mean that customers will be beating down your door to do business, but rather as organizations we need to figure out not just how to build a better mousetrap, but rather how to get rid of that pesky mouse. The nuance is important!

In technology, there is a tendency to treat almost every new technology as a want and almost every new want as a need. The result is vast sums spent on IT purchases that are unopened or unused that perhaps looked good on paper (as a proposal), but never truly met the organizational threshold as a must-have with a commensurate commitment by it to succeed.

There are a number of implications for IT leaders:

1) As service providers, I think we need to differentiate with our internal customers what their genuine pain points are that must get prioritized from what their technology wish list items that can be addressed in the future, strategy alignment and resources permitting.

2) From a customer standpoint, I’d like to see our technology vendors trying to sell less new mousetraps and focusing more on what we really need in our organizations. The worst vendor calls/presentations are the ones that just try to tell you what they have to sell, rather than finding out what you need and how they can answer that call in a genuine way.

In looking at the emotion, the key to long-term sales success is not to take advantage of the customer in need, but rather to be their partner in meeting those needs and making the pain go away.



Job Descriptions said...

Your were right on the point! But i see company's are doing "over selling" which is making customers to move away!

Project Manager Job Specification

smplcv said...

Oh! outstanding points to be noted.

Banking CV

Anonymous said...

It's always good to see IT leaders remind vendors to focus on their pain points, not features. I've been to a few sales training programs and all of the top selling sales process books say the same thing. Why then do so many sales reps 'show up and throw up?' They show up and brief their next release or latest product.

I believe it is in part because it is a fall back position. Most clients do little to actively and publicly describe their pain points. Let's say I'm a sales rep who wants to sell to your agency, I do some research but find little or nothing that tells me what you are currently trying to resolve or address. My fall back position is to attempt to set a meeting to brief you on the solutions I have and generally connect them. At that meeting I hope to learn more about your true pain points. With many agencies the only ones in the know are the large contractors already on site who have little incentive to bring forward novel solutions that they don't have the ability to translate into more billable hours.

The only way for the client to break out of this trap is to go public with key challenges, budget intent and other insight that will draw briefings from smart vendors. If an agency isn't getting these kinds of briefings I suspect it is because its contractors are holding tight the true pain points.