You Sell Pain Relief!

Tim arrived at the prospect’s office 15 minutes before the appointment so that he could sit in the car and mentally review what he was going to say. Tim very carefully visualized each step of his presentation, making sure that the benefits of buying from him and his companies were crystal clear. Looking at his watch, he took a deep breath, let it out slowly, and proceeded in to the appointment. Once the pleasantries were over, Tim got right down to business. “For the past 5 years, I have represented my company, which has been in business for over 50 years and provided, to businesses like yours, the products and service which enable you to meet your customers’ demands.” “That why I agreed to see you Tim,” responded the prospect, who then added, “I have a real need for what you are selling. In fact, I have to have it or staying in business will be almost impossible.” “I’m glad you agreed to meet with me. Our products have the longest mean time to failure in the industry and as a result, your downtime will be reduced by 75% within the first two years.” “Tim, that’s great to know. But my engineering department is not sure that we can retrofit your devices onto our equipment.” “That’s something I’m sure we’ll take care of later.” The prospect went on to say, “My production manager is very concerned, and so am I, that retraining our workers will take a long time. We can’t afford to let production slip.” Tim replied, “I understand everything you are telling me. My advice is this: Don’t worry. We’ve handled bigger problems than yours.”

About 20 minutes later, the prospect thanked Tim for coming by and promised to review the proposal when Tim sent it over. Once Tim left the office, the prospect sat behind his desk with a nagging feeling that got more ominous the more he thought about it. “That salesperson,” he thought, “didn’t listen to anything I said.” He picked up the phone, pressed a button and said, “Maggie, when and if Tim calls in the next few weeks, tell him I’m out of the office…and he’s probably going to send along a proposal, just file it. Thanks.”

Tim ignored 3 chances handed to him by the prospect that would have led to the prospect believing that what he said mattered. The prospect was in pain, Tim ignored the pain, and now the prospect is going to ignore Tim. Despite what customers and prospects say, they buy from you to get rid of some pain that either is present or will be present without your product/service. They do not buy the product/service because you are a wonderful person. Of course, this does not mean that you should be anything less than wonderful. The point is that your customers and prospects can buy what you are selling from any number of other vendors at any time. So why do they buy from you?

The story on the reverse side contains prospect pain statements that Tim ignores in his rush to make his presentation. Tim’s need to present causes him to completely ignore what the prospect is saying. For example, “I have a real need for what you are selling. In fact, I have to have it or staying in business will be almost impossible.” Tim goes right on ignoring this pain statement. He should have stopped the prospect and asked, “Staying in business will be almost impossible?” By asking this question, Tim is increasing the prospect’s pain. Once the prospect is ready for a trip to the hospital, Tim will then present the solution to the pain.

You cannot ignore a prospect or a customer who is in pain and get away with it. If you do, he/she will take it out on you because from his/her point of view, you were insensitive and did not listen. Instead of Tim presenting features and benefits, he should have listened to the presentation that the prospect was making. People in pain resent people who cannot take the pain away. You sell pain relief.


Sandler Training is a global training organization with over three decades of experience and proven results. Sandler provides sales and management training and consulting services for small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as well as corporate training for Fortune 1000 companies. For more information, please contact Karl Schaphorst at (402) 403-4334 or by email at You can also follow his blog at