Identify the pain

How to sell to someone in the retail environment then? (Read other entries in the series by reading previous posts on this blog.)

It is very easy to SAY one must identify the needs of a customer, but it is rather more difficult to do, because whilst attempting to identify a need, one should simultaneously develop the proposition that would meet that need. (Retailers, who sell fast food, are unlikely to benefit from or be able to respond to customers’ need to be clothed and protected.)

We advocate a 3-step process[1]:

1. Diagnose the >>> PAIN

2. Differentiate the >>> CLAIM

3. Demonstrate the >>> GAIN




A wardrobe

Untidy house

Get organised – cheaper

Look classy - quicker

A mobile phone

Losing touch

Get Connected – and look good

From this example you can see that the need (PAIN) is quite universal and applies to a whole market. The offer/ solution (CLAIM) is equally generic – so it must be differentiated.

I don’t want to belabour the point, but focusing on pain rather than some ‘benefit’ or ‘advantage’ is quite different from the way most people have been taught to sell. In our Sell$mart program we teach sales assistants to hone in on the ‘BUT REASON’. With that we mean for example:

  • You want to buy a wedding present for a friend – BUT you don’t want to look stupid by buying the same

  • You want to buy a new sofa – BUT it must fit; i.e. must not make the rest of the furniture look old

  • You want to buy a new blouse, BUT it must make the bust look slimmer

The reasons which are listed after the ‘BUT’ are examples of Omega factors – those negative ‘pain’ factors which are stronger motivations than simply wanting to look good or save money,.

Demonstrating the GAIN is the subject of another blog on Persuasion (to follow).