In the world of Sandler selling, “Pain” is a compelling emotional reason to do something different. No pain, no sale. The simplest way to stop behaving like a traditional salesperson is to embrace the mindset of a physician (i.e. diagnostician) who is simply searching for people who suffer from the problem(s) you solve and are committed to fixing them.
With the word “committed” in mind, here’s a trivia question for those already familiar with the Sandler Selling System: What’s the final question of the Sandler Pain Funnel?
While you give this some thought, let’s consider why many pain discovery conversations don’t get this far down the pain funnel in the first place. Sometimes, salespeople simply haven’t created an atmosphere of trust and comfort, so both the seller and buyer grow impatient after a couple of questions and awkwardly, clumsily move forward in the process. Other times, salespeople get excited at the sign of a positive buyer, perhaps even excited to help out a person in need, and they rush ahead in the process without exploring the pain further. It’s this second scenario that we’re exploring right now.
The answer to the trivia question is: Have you given up trying to deal with the problem? With this in mind, let’s think for a moment about why asking our prospects to reflect upon this question, regardless of the answer, is the ultimate goal of the Sandler Selling System.
Greatness in life is almost always inspired by adversity. There are countless examples in real life and many that we’ll never know about due to the personal nature of these challenges (i.e. Health Issues, Career Instability, Marital Problems, Substance Abuse, etc.). Folks don’t face most of these problems, becoming open-minded to major changes, until they're forced to because it’s absolutely necessary – when they’ve become desperate.
In fiction, we draw inspiration from watching our hero’s rise from the depths of desperation. In the Marvel comic movie series, for example, every hero is born from a triumph over adversity. In the case of Ironman and Robert Downey Jr., this can be said of both the character and actor.
However, if they knew the end result would be heroism, the decision for these people (real and fiction) to change would have happened much sooner. The truth is, at the time of their decision to change, they had no other options remaining. They had the gift of desperation.
So, please hear me when I say: Don’t deprive your prospects of the gift of desperation.
Here’s two ways to do this more effectively: 1) Sales is not a place to get your emotional needs met. No matter how anxious or excited you are, stay in your adult ego (i.e. calm and collected) and stick to the process. 2) Play dumb. Sometimes it’s the only thing you can think to do. Our heads are filled with so much knowledge and experience that it’s often nearly impossible to prevent it from pouring out of our mouths. If needed, even stop yourself mid-sentence, then stick to the system.
When qualifying prospects, succumbing to your emotional needs and/or desire to display your product knowledge will only deprive your prospect of this gift of desperation. So, muster every bit of courage, patience, and discipline to ask the right questions (i.e. The Pain Funnel), leading them upon a path of their own self-discovery, ending with a simple “Yes” to the question, “Have you given up trying to deal with the problem?”
Once you’ve heard this “Yes,” it’ll be much easier to guide them through the remainder of the sales process, ending with them embracing a change (i.e. Your product or service) that will have a positive impact upon their life. How often do we make it through the entire Pain Funnel? Not as often as we like. But hey – we strive for progress, not perfection.