Making Pain Crystal Clear

37 views 12:05 pm 0 Comments January 5, 2024

As you learn the Sandler Sales System, you’ll acquire a number of powerful techniques to establish an authentic conversation about the prospect’s pain along with tools to sustain that conversation. When you assimilate these techniques into your work, you will close more sales. More on that later, but for now, let’s master and use those techniques and create a crystal-clear picture of what pain is (and isn’t) in the professional sales process. This is important because, unfortunately, most salespeople have no practical understanding of what a prospect’s pain is. Furthermore, many salespeople have no idea why pain is the most important element to having successful sales calls and sales cycles, whether you are in a one-call close or a 12-month selling cycle.

If pain is the gap between where you are now and where you want to be, as the driver of the car in the example I used in my last blog, you felt pain when you were embarrassed to drive your clunker down your own street. You felt pain when you realized you weren’t driving a safe vehicle. You felt pain when you were annoyed at the loud noise the car was making. Anxious, embarrassed, and fearful for your own safety, you could be forgiven for wondering where the closest garage was so you could arrange repairs.

Emotions drove your desire to find a garage. When you begin to examine any purchase, you’ll see it can all be traced back to an original experience of pain inside the customer’s emotions. At some point, the prospect feels enough pain and seeks a solution, either at an individual or company level. The prospect wants to cure their pain and needs YOU to show how that can be done.

Here are three things I want you to remember when it comes to the subject of pain:

1. Pain is a deep-seated emotional need capable of compelling somebody to buy something.

2. Pain facilitates the closure of a sale.

3. Pain is not the problem prospects are having that they want to solve or fix. It is the gap between how they feel about the problem and how they’d like to feel.

Remember, people buy emotionally and want their pain to end. That’s why pain facilitates the closing of a sale. Prospects justify decisions logically, but the decision to buy always starts with pain. The more pain prospects have, the more likely they are to buy a solution and to commit time, money, and resources to removing their pain.

Key point: There is a direct relationship between how much pain prospects feel and how much they will invest to fix it. Pain is one of the most misunderstood sales concepts, but also one of the most powerful tools, once it is understood and harnessed.

Of course, people will argue that there is both an emotional and an intellectual component to a purchase decision. Yet, if you look closely at any given decision to buy, you will find that almost always, everything in the buyer’s world starts with emotions. Therefore, every purchase begins with pain.

When I say, “Everything starts with pain”, I mean a situation causes an emotional response, compelling a person to take action, examine their options, and make a change. After all this, the decision-making may switch over to the intellectual side, but the emotional side is always the initial driving force. Engage your prospect’s pain, and you’ll be taking a powerful step towards closing the deal.


Frequently, salespeople are taught to tell prospects the features and benefits of their product or service near the beginning of a sales call. I’ve mentioned how an emphasis on features and benefits misses the mark. I’m hoping you can see why. Discussions about features are not inherently emotional. Neither, contrary to popular belief, are discussions about benefits. Appeals to features and benefits are basically intellectual exercises. No matter how hard salespeople try to put “sizzle” into these discussions, they generally end up connecting to the logical part of the prospect’s brain, not the emotional part. I contend that when a salesperson presents features and benefits early on without uncovering the prospect’s pain and a sale occurs, the prospect has purchased in spite of the presentation of features and benefits, not because of it.

The single most effective way to get a prospect emotionally involved is to have a meaningful conversation in which the prospect reveals pain and discusses it with the salesperson directly. In order to relieve the pain, you must get the prospect to relive the pain.