Today’s post is by David Mattson, CEO and president of Sandler Training, an international training and consulting organization headquartered in the United States. Since 1986, he has been a trainer and business consultant for management, sales, interpersonal communication, corporate team building, and strategic planning throughout the United States and Europe. Find him on Twitter at @Dave_Mattson.
Think of your most important contact at your most important, most complex customer. What is the single biggest problem you solve for that person…and that organization?
If you can’t express the answer to that question in a single sentence – or if the sentence is built around features or product specifications – you’ve got some work to do. Refine your answer to that question until it reflects the problem you solve: the pain you remove from the customer’s world.
Pain exists when there is a real or perceived gap between an existing situation and the desire for a better situation. The selling team’s solution must bridge that gap. The bigger the customer pain points you can identify, and remove, the better your position within any given enterprise account.
This is a fundamental principle of Sandler Enterprise Selling: there is no way to win big revenue without identifying big customer pain points.
Sandler Pain Funnel Questions
To get a sense of the dimensions and impact of the gap between where prospects in an enterprise opportunity are and where they want to be, you can use a questioning process known as the Sandler Pain Funnel.
- Tell me more about that.
- Can you be more specific? Give me an example.
- How long has that been a problem?
- What have you tried to do about that? And did it work?
- How much do you think that has cost you?
- How do you feel about that?
- Have you given up trying to deal with the problem?
Notice that the questions in the funnel move from identifying the problem from the prospect’s point of view toward a description of the ultimate impact if nothing is done. One of the things that makes enterprise accounts different is that one person’s answers to these questions are not enough.
Uncover Enterprise Pain More Effectively with Internal Coaches
Your enterprise selling team needs the answers to those Pain Funnel questions from multiple perspectives. It needs a consistent flow of timely, accurate information about the organization you are serving or seeking to serve and, specifically, the problems that need solving. Internal coaches are the people who help you get this information and guide you through the organizational maze. They’re your internal advocates within the target organization, and you will need more than one.
Finding these internal point people may be as simple as asking your current contact for help. Try something like:
Sean, it would really be great to have someone guide me through all the ins and outs of how your company operates. Would you be willing to help?
You should have multiple coaches in every enterprise account on which you are calling, and the number depends on the size of the buyer network. These coaches should represent as many different functional areas of the firm as can possibly be penetrated.
- You want coaches from the user group, the group that ultimately interacts with your products/services.
- You also need coaches from the buying group, such as people in procurement, purchasing, and supply chain.
- You should have coaches from the technical group, the team involved in making the decision due to its technical expertise.
- You also need multiple influencer coaches, the people who are going to be affected by whatever you are selling but may not play a direct role in the buying process.
The people in these four groups all contribute to the way your offering is treated by the ultimate decision maker. They can help you identify some aspect of the pain you can resolve.
Ultimately, selling is all about solving problems, and enterprise selling is about solving more complex problems for larger companies. Once you identify the biggest customer pain points and can connect them to workable solutions from your side, you’ve got a real opportunity.
On the other hand, if you’re still missing information – or if you identify some areas where you will still have work to do – that’s good. That means you know what to do next.