If you want to be really successful at selling something, whether it’s a product, service or idea, you have to draw attention not just to the benefits, but the benefits that interest the prospective customer. That principle holds true whether you’re selling in person or via written copy, and it means that you need to address customer pain points.
Customer pain points are the problems or issues that are preventing your customers (and prospective customers) from achieving their goals. A pain point could also be something that’s causing them stress or inconvenience. So, basically it’s the particular problem your customers face.
It would be easier to just list all the benefits one could gain from your offering, but if your list of benefits is too long, the key selling points may get lost in the jumble. Or you could end up emphasizing the ones that wouldn’t move the needle as much as another would. You’ll be missing the opportunity to establish yourself as the solution to their problems.
Find the Pain
So, how does one figure out customers’ actual pain points? Inc.com has an excellent article on finding pain points during customer interviews. But there are a few other tactics you can use as well.
Talking to your salespeople should yield quite a few insights into the specifics of the problems that prospects and customers are facing. Also, people in your business who have direct contact with existing customers, such as customer service staff and even the communications staff who interview customers for case studies, hear about pain points with your current offerings, so you can also get great ideas for upgrading.
For insights that are a little less one-on-one, you can try searching or lurking on the discussion threads of online forums and groups. One example that comes to mind is when an online discussion in a LinkedIn group shared information on an online service that one of my clients had considered. Many of the group members stated that the service’s sales team was obnoxiously pushy and not worth the service itself. If staffers from that service happened to be lurking, they would have been able to tell the sales department to tone things down.
You could identify general pain points for your targeted group by looking at review sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, etc. Another source is findings from professional market or industry research companies such as Gartner, Forrester Research, etc.
Use the Pain
Once you know the relevant pain points for your target group, you can use them to guide your messaging because you also know what features and benefits they’ll really care about. For example, if you find that a benefit addresses a very common or powerful pain point, it’s a very good idea to announce that benefit in your headline and/or lede paragraph. If your business produces messaging templates, your knowledge of the pain points can help you craft a hard-hitting positioning statement and elevator pitch as well as designate what are the primary and secondary differentiators.
Understanding pain points also provides excellent opportunities for white papers that help prospects and customers find resolution as well as case study opportunities that highlight how your product/service resolved a specific problem that you *know* prospective customers will care about. The latter is much better than giving a prospect a success story that isn’t really parallel to that prospect’s situation e.g., showing how you improved worker performance in general when the prospect wants something that can support a specific reform tactic or program.
Some experts advise ignoring any complaints you hear about general pricing. However, an viable alternative is explaining or demonstrating how your product/service is worth the investment. Being able to explain or prove return on investment is a powerful tactic that could very well net you more buyers. (Otherwise you can have your R&D department work on a cost-effective option).
Listening to your customers and prospects will help you stay connected to their concerns and pains. As I mentioned, you can also use the insights you gain to improve your own product/service/business process and their input may even help you improve your customer service. The more you salve their pain, the better their relationship with you will be, and consequently the more success you’ll experience.