When Michael Bosworth coined the term “customer pain” in his book Customer Centric Selling, he probably didn’t realise just how important this would become. Salespeople around the world recognise how understanding a prospect’s pain gives you the license to explain how your product will help alleviate or solve it. Whilst Bosworth’s other words “goal” and “need” are more palatable, “pain” gets to the heart of what concerns them – right now. The more personal a pain, the more immediacy there is for your prospect to solve it.

You can link pains from top to bottom of a company easily. The major concern for CEOs is shareholder return, either in the form of growing share price, strong dividends or – preferably – both. The VP of Sales and Marketing and the CFO will in turn be concerned with increasing revenue and about controlling costs respectively, to drive shareholder return. You can cascade this “pain chain” down to the lower echelons of the company where an individual can have a “line of sight” showing how their day to day activities help solve these executive level pains. These can be uncovered by asking questions to determine what keeps them up at night, for example, “What’s important to you?” and “Why is that important to you?” It’s straightforward to put together a picture of what your prospect’s pain is by questioning them and researching what is happening in their company, to determine, for example, how it is performing financially and what projects it has won or lost.

If you can get into your prospect or customers head to understand their pain your life will become so much easier. Your understanding needn’t be perfect, because imperfection encourages your prospect to give you more information by correcting you. Once you have a reasonable idea, you can put a business case together using the template below, based on the Y.O.U. Concept:

“You”: describe what you believe your prospect’s pain to be and how it relates to the pains of their executives.

“Other”: refer to your customers that have a similar pain and which use your products or services to solve it, to give your prospect confidence that you have a solution to their pain that already works. Your success stories are key to this.

“Us”: describe how your product or service will solve their pain.

This Y.O.U. Concept is great for writing short emails after a prospecting call, summarising a meeting or putting together a business case.

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