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• How serious would you say the problem is today? What were you hoping I could do for you?


• Is there anything about your present situation you don’t like? • What are you thinking about? • What do you like about what you are currently us- ing? What would you like to change or improve, if anything? How do you see that working for you?


• Sounds like no matter what I say or what our system can do, it wouldn’t make any difference.


• Isn’t what you already have doing the job? How long has this been a problem? • What’s the real problem? • In the industry, we’ve noticed a problem with…. Have you experienced anything similar?


• If you were to change today, what would you do differently?


• Does that mean you’re not open to new ideas? • If you were to pick one thing you didn’t like about that, what would it be?


• Do you have any problems in relation to…? • How do I tell you you’re making the wrong decision without you getting upset?


• Where do you see a need for improvement? • When did you first decide you should look into…? Why am I here?


• Good. So, what I hear you saying is that finding a better way of helping the (blank) isn’t that critical. Am I right or wrong about that? • Why did you agree to see me? • How long have you been thinking about this? And you never have a problem with…?


• That probably means you are happy with…? How much is the problem costing you? The list of pain-probing questions is endless, and it’s im- portant for you to develop questions you can ask comfort- ably. It’s a good idea to take notes when you begin asking questions. People love to be interviewed – especially if they’re talking about something near and dear to them, and that certainly describes their pain! Act like a news reporter. Gather information from the prospect and write it in your notebook.


Continue asking questions until you uncover the pros-


pect’s pain. A rule of thumb is that you’ll need to ask at least three questions to get to pain. The first two responses to your questions will result in what I call “intellectual smoke screens” (ISS). They’re pain indicators, but they’re not real pain. When you hear ISS, continue asking questions! How will you know you’ve succeeded? How will you know your prospect is in pain? You’ll know because you’ve never heard it before. The


prospect’s responses will become emotional, not intellec- tual. The prospect’s words will be different. A prospect in


22 | AUGUST 2015 SELLING POWER © 2015 SELLING POWER. CALL 1-800-752-7355 FOR REPRINT PERMISSION.


pain uses words such as “worried,” “concerned,” “frus- trated,” “wasted effort,” “angry,” “upset,” “afraid,” “lost all hope,” “terrible situation,” and “disappointed.” For example, imagine an accountant calling on a pros- pect. The accountant asks the prospect, “How can I help you?” The prospect says: “I would like to pay less taxes and keep more money in my pocket.” That may sound like pain, but it’s ISS. It’s not an emotional response. If the accountant tries to close the sale now, it’s too early. There’s no pain. When the prospect says, “I’m tired of giving away my money to the government, and I’m not going to do it anymore,” or something similar – with emotion – that’s pain.


In addition to using emotional words or statements, a


prospect in pain uses different body language. If the pain gets severe, the prospect may get up and walk around the room, or look out a window – almost ignoring you. Some prospects lower their heads, shake their heads, lower their eyes, or slouch in their chairs. That’s when you know they’re feeling pain. It’s not unusual to get excited the first few times you successfully lead a prospect through the Pain discus- sion. After all, you know you’re that much closer to the sale. But don’t show your real emotions. Pain is never a pleasant experience. Your prospect shouldn’t see you smiling. Take your lead from the prospect. Shake your head sympathetically. Empathize with the prospect’s pain. At this point, selling is acting. 


Adapted from the book Sandler Success Principles by Dave Mattson and Bruce Seidman. To learn more about Sandler Training, visit www.sandler.com.


VIDEO: DON’T SELL FEATURES AND BENEFITS – WITH DAVE MATTSON, CEO OF SANDLER TRAINING


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