Skip to Content
Sandler Training (Southern Counties) Change Location
This site uses cookies. By navigating the site, you consent to our use of cookies. Accept

What do you mean by Pain?


Perhaps the most famous thing about Sandler (apart from a now-retired Submarine) is Pain. In fact when you hear Pain being mentioned in the context of sales you can thank David H Sandler. He’s the one that defined Pain as “Sufficient emotional reason to do something different”.

That’s interesting, I hope you’ll agree. That’s not “pain point” which is usually something like “business reason to consider a change”. No; it’s emotional, it’s personal. Wait, does that mean we should, in a business meeting with a senior director of a large corporation in a B2B environment, be talking about personal feelings? That’s stretching things a little, surely. I mean, is such a director going to be prepared to talk about how he or she feels to the point of wanting to do something different? It’s a bit hard to imagine such a thing.

Hard to imagine until you consider 3 points.

The first is that the person in front of you is just that, a person. That individual has aspirations and concerns just like anybody else. When they buy anything in their lives, personal or business, they are going to go through the same emotional journey; they don’t become somebody different just because they are now buying a big project from you instead of something for the home. In other words, remember they are just a person.

Second, you should be claiming and maintaining equal business stature. They have a problem, you have the answer. If there is an equals sign then all is good and business will happen. If there isn’t then they shouldn’t be your client. So when it comes to your product or service, you have the right to work out with them if there is a match. And that will need some honesty, including honesty about how they feel about the challenges they face.

Third, this senior director doesn’t care about you, nor the profitability of your organization, nor even what it is you are selling. No; the only thing they can care about is their problem and how the problem and the solution is going to effect them (and by extension their family, team and business). If solving the problem will make a significant difference then they’ll be much more likely to make a big change. If it really doesn’t matter to them, then you can safely be put to the back of the queue, maybe permanently.

Hopefully you are drawing the conclusion that your potential client is having to consider a lot of things about their own pain, even if they are not doing so openly nor maybe not even very consciously. So if you help them with that thinking you are doing them a huge service. In fact, this is the most important thing you can do for our prospect. Helping them sort through all the challenges and understanding the impact of hanging on to those challenges or, alternatively, solving them, is the most valuable thing you’ll do for them, whether they become a client or not. Typically, salespeople just won’t do this. They either want to challenge their prospective client or they want to drown them in solutions. The whole “emotional reason” journey is just too painful for the salesperson to contemplate. Painful for the salesperson notice, not painful for the prospect. Helping the prospect to self-discover why they need to change and how they can change is enlightening for them. It might mean having to admit painful truths, but the resulting clarity is worth it.

If finding Pain is so important, how much of a Discovery meeting should you spend finding it out? Way more than you might think. This means you have to stay out of talking about your solutions, your products, your services, your unique features for ages. In fact, if there isn’t sufficient pain, you might never get on to those things. Stop selling. Stop talking about how brilliant your stuff is. Spend the time with them in working out what better place they want to be in and why. Spend your time talking about Pain.

If you’d like to learn more about how to find Pain and how to use Pain to help your prospects and stand out from the competition as a result, and you are based in Surrey, Berkshire, Hampshire, Sussex or Kent, contact me. I’ll ask you about your Pain and we’ll see if I can help.

Paul Glynn

Paul Glynn

Sandler trainer