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Is Your Prospect Interested or Motivated?


As a salesperson, answering this question is critical to your success, maintaining a strong mindset, and protecting your most valuable asset, your time.

Interest drives a lot of deal activity. But by itself, it never drives deal closure unless it’s a “closed lost.” Interest is a state of wanting to know about someone or something. Motivation is a reason for action. 

Many salespeople are good at uncovering interests or even problems that clients or prospects are experiencing. Exceptional salespeople are good at uncovering or enabling motivation to act. The key to unlocking motivation is getting to the layers below the interest or problem.

Sandler’s core concept of pain is the first step of qualification. It’s about uncovering a prospect’s emotionally compelling reasons to act.

Pain has 3 levels:

  1. Surface level problem
  2. The impact the problem is having on the person or the organization
  3. The stakeholder’s personal attachment to the problem i.e., their motivation to fix it

Too many times in developing sales opportunities, when a problem is uncovered, a solution is quickly presented with hopes of gaining a commitment to move forward. Unfortunately, what’s ignored is the impact of solving this problem.

We live in a show and tell world. Successful sales calls happen when the seller is talking roughly 49% of the time. But show and tell caters to interest which is intellectual. People aren’t motivated to act until they are emotionally attached to fixing the problem or to your solution.

It's OK to tell people about your offerings' features and benefits. Then ask a few of the questions below to gauge the impact and their potential motivation to solve it:

  • Would that solution help?
  • How would it help you?
  • What would the solution allow you to do that you cannot do today?
  • How important is achieving that outcome to you or your team?
  • What would happen if you left the current process in place?
  • Is correcting this problem on your list of priorities?
  • Can you live with that result?

These questions will help you get closer to their perceived value of your solution and unlock their motivation to act.

Don’t settle for uncovering surface level needs or trying to corral interested prospects. Take it a step further and find out if the motivation to act is present.

If not, focus your time and attention elsewhere.

Eric Warner

Eric Warner

Eric Warner, the founder and president of Praxis Growth Advisors, is an award-winning sales trainer, leadership development specialist and accomplished sales process strategist. He has more than 25 years of experience leading teams, building businesses and driving complex sales processes.