Let’s discuss just what pain is in the context that we use it in. Pain is something that is not working well or could be working better for a prospect and this is causing a negative impact. We will get into much more detail and go into examples and we just want to introduce the concept at this point. But at the highest level, one question that can be asked to determine if there is pain is “are things great, good, OK, or could be better?” If things are either great or good, there might not be any pain, or at least not very much. And if things are OK or could be better, there likely is some sort of pain that the prospect is experiencing.
This is one of the most important concepts to embrace when trying to improve cold calling. Here are a few points as to why. First of all, if there is no pain, there is no reason for the prospect to change anything. You may have a prospect that has genuine interest but when it comes time to pull the trigger on the purchase and spend money, things can often stall out if there is not that true pain to justify the leap forward. If your goal of the cold call is to schedule an appointment or meeting, you will be much more successful with getting prospects to agree to meet by getting pain identified and into the conversation. Just like how a prospect does not have a reason to buy without pain, they really have no reason to meet with you if you have not identified any pain. It is important to be able to grab and keep the prospect’s attention on a cold call, and focusing on pain is will help you to do that. Demonstrating that you can focus on and find the prospect’s pain can sometimes help you to earn some respect and build a better level of rapport and connection with the prospect. Successfully generating leads and managing deals is all about the ability to gather and manage information around the prospect’s needs. Improving your ability to find and discuss pain will greatly improve your ability to extract valuable information from prospects. Qualifying prospects is a key step to sales effectiveness and this area helps tremendously with that as either finding pain or figuring out that the prospect does not have pain can greatly improve your ability to qualify.
Now let’s dig a little deeper into what pain can look like. There are actually three levels of pain. At the lowest level, you have technical pain. This is when things are technically not working well or could be better, and can be often found at the areas of systems, processes, or people. When pain is experienced at the technical level, that will usually trickle up and cause pain at the business level. This is where a prospect begins to feel negative impacts in the areas of revenue, costs, and the delivery of services. The pain does not stop their as it can continue on work its way up to impact your prospects at a personal level. This is when the technical and business pain starts to impact the individuals in areas like workload, compensation, job security, career growth, and even spill over into their personal life as well.
When a doctor is trying to figure out if or where a patient hurts and what the problem is, he or she will try to look for different symptoms. There will be different measurements taken and different questions asked. And based on the answers and data back, the doctor will have a good idea of what the pain is and what the underlying problems are. We can do the same thing to improve our ability to find pain that our prospects are experiencing. Here are six pain symptoms to look for: Something not working well Something could be working better Things are time consuming Errors are being made High costs Low revenue We will go through these one at a time looking at an example of each. And as we go through each of these, don’t worry about memorizing each pain symptom so that you remember each and have a check list to go through when talking with prospects on a cold call. This is merely an exercise to show you that pain can show up in a lot of different ways and you can use these symptoms to help you to figure out what questions you can ask your typical prospects.
As we go through these symptoms, we will use an example scenario that most of us can relate to and that is owning and operating a vehicle. To be able to display include the business impacts, we will say that we use the vehicle for deliveries and those factor into our revenue. The first symptom is the most common one for us to look for and that is that things are not working well. To look at an example of how this symptom might happen when operating a vehicle, let’s say that our vehicle has mechanical challenges and not operating properly. The symptom in this scenario might be that the vehicle actually breaks down a few times a year. The root cause that is creating this symptom is that the systems and processes that are internal to the vehicle are old or faulty and not working well. So there is the pain in that the car is not working well, and the cause is the internal system issues. The technical impact from this is that we are not able to use the vehicle to get to our destination. The business impact is that we are not able to complete our deliveries and that has a negative hit on revenue and customer satisfaction. The personal impact is that is that this causes us to have to work late to catch up and takes away time that we would spend with our family. That is an example of something not working well, and is happening everyday in just about every business. Every business has some amount of equipment whether machinery or maybe IT systems. Those often have symptoms of not working well, and when they fail or have problems, they cause pain at the technical, business, and personal levels.
The next symptom that we will look at is that things could be working better. Many people might merge this in with the last symptom that we discussed of things not working well, but these are actually two different things. Things could be actually be working fine yet there is clearly room where things could be better. Let’s go back to the example scenario so that you can see what I am talking about. We previously discussed a scenario where the vehicle actually breaks down. Now let’s say that the vehicle does not break down at all, actually starts like a charm and is very reliable. But the challenge that exists is that the top speed of the vehicle is only 50 miles per hour which is much lower than most vehicles on the road. So we don’t have a symptom of “not working well” yet we clearly have a case where things could be working better. The noticeable symptom here is that we are not able to travel as fast as we would like. The root cause of this issue is that we are not using the right type of vehicle for our needs. The technical impact and pain that this causes is that it takes us longer to get to our destinations and complete deliveries. The business impact is that since we aren’t about to complete as many deliveries, our revenue is not as much as it could be. At a personal level, we often get tips when we complete a delivery and since we cannot complete as many, we make less compensation than we would if things were working better. Something like this may be seen in the business world where the systems are decent to good, but they are just not big enough. Maybe the factory is only able to put out 100 units per hour, and this is causing pain at all three levels because things could be working better by being able to produce more.
Another symptom is that things are time consuming. Our vehicle can be reliable and the right type in terms of performance, but let’s say that it has very manual features and controls. The symptom here is that it is very time consuming to perform all of the different tasks that it takes to operate the vehicle. The root cause of this symptom is that the processes and systems are manual. The technical impact is that it is more time consuming to operate the vehicle than it would be if some of the steps were automated and this decreases the number of deliveries that we can complete. This hits our revenue and causes business pain, and the same personal pain occurs where our compensation is not what they could be. This is a common pain in the business world as there are often business processes that very manual and take too much time. When too many people have to touch and look at something, that causes all three types of pain.
Another pain symptom is that errors are being made. Going back to the example, let’s say that everything is great except for the fact that the vehicle’s speedometer displays the wrong speed. The root cause of this is something faulty in the device that is monitoring and displaying the speed. This causes technical pain in that we don’t really know how fast we are going and not able to correctly operate the vehicle. From a business standpoint, this could cause us increased costs in the form of fines and accidents. At a personal level, this could not only cause a stress, it could also create an unsafe work environment. This type of symptom and impact can occur in the business world where systems and processes are error prone and that can cause all three types of pain. The errors can cause systems to not operate properly. Incorrect data and reports can lead to incorrect business decisions being made causing higher costs, lost revenue, fines. And at a personal level, safety becomes a concern and the biggest cost can occur which is personal injuries and even loss of lives in some cases.
The next pain symptom that we will look at is the existence of high costs. Going back to the example scenario, let’s say that our fuel costs are higher than we want them to be. This can be traced down to a couple different root causes. It could be that our vehicle is simply not fuel efficient or another cause could be that there is something faulty like a fuel leak that is causing us to use more fuel than we need to. Whatever the case there, this is causes a technical disruption as it means that we have to stop to refill our vehicle more often than we would in another vehicle and this is a negative impact on our processes and efficiency. At a business, level, of course this hits us at the profitability level as we would clearly make more money if we could operate on less fuel. At a personal level, the decreased profitability could mean a decreased bonus at the end of the year. This type of symptom is present in just about every business as either there is an area where costs are higher than where the should be in a particular area, such as labor, or maybe materials, or maybe similar to the example we have been using and in the area of transportation. High costs is really more of a business pain than anything else but it is usually being caused by a technical pain and, like everything else, will also lead to personal pain.
The last pain symptom that we will look at is low revenue. With us operating our vehicle, there could be the case where we are not make the type of money that we either want to be or should be. This could be due to a root cause that we are not optimizing and getting the most out of the vehicle. This could be caused by a number of technical factors, maybe some that we have already discussed, and these are causing us to not complete as many deliveries in a day as we should be. At a business level, by not operating at our optimum level, we have low revenue. And again, this could hit us at a personal level in terms of our personal bonus. Converting this to the business world, just about every business has the pain symptom of low revenue. Either it is lower than it should be in a problematic way, or maybe things are fine but there is the ever-present desire for more revenue.
Those are some of the pain symptoms that you can look for. But even with all of that in mind, it can be very difficult to uncover pain that the prospect is experiencing during a cold call. This is due to a couple of very realistic psychological factors going on on the prospect’s side. First, it can be very common for the prospect to be in a state of denial. This is when they flat out deny having any pain, even if you ask a question that directly touches on or points out something that is not working well. A quick way to understand this is to think about a football player that takes a hard hit in a game and when asked by the coach if they are alright, they say yes even if they are not because they just want to get back in the game. A prospect can have this same motivation and reaction as sometimes when they take a cold call, they just want to get off of the call and get back in the game. So they will just deny the pain, and this could either be because they consciously deny that they have pain, or they deny it because they are unaware that they have any pain. And the prospect not being aware of their pain, leads us to the second reason why pain can be hard to uncover and that is that there is a case of latent pain. This is when something is wrong or could be better, but the prospect is completely unaware of this. To demonstrate this, let’s reflect back on the 6 pain symptoms that we just went through. The interesting thing here, all of the pain symptoms other than the vehicle physically breaking down could exist without the driver being aware. For example, the performance could be subpar, there could be a lot of manual steps, errors being made, high costs, and low revenue going on, and the driver could be completely unaware and think that everything is just fine. One of these two things, or maybe both, can be going on when you get a prospect on the phone and start trying to find out how things are going. It is important to be aware of this in order to try to work through or around this challenge.
Even though it can be tough to uncover pain while cold calling, it is not impossible. And here are 4 tactics that are very easy to implement and can have an immediate impact on your results. We will go through each one at a time.
Rating questions are basically questions that include a scale of one to ten. For example, “How happy are you with the level of service from your current provider, on a scale from one to ten?” One key thing about this type of question is that it provides more information and a more detailed answer. If we asked without the rating piece, the prospect may answer with an response of “good”. But when we add the rating piece, they may answer with 8. That provides us with a little more info but it also provides us with an opportunity to follow up their answer with another question that asks about their rating. We can say “Great. Do you mind if I ask why you gave a rating of 8? What would need to be changed to get you to a nine or a 10?” This gives us an opportunity to focus on the gap between the answer they gave and 10 and that gap may exist as a result of some pain. We work toward asking what would need to be changed in order to increase their rating from their answer to a 10.
One great way to uncover pain is to share with the prospect some examples of pain that other businesses or individuals have experienced. Once you share some examples, you can then check in with the prospect to see if those are things that they can relate to or have experienced as well. For example, we could say, “We work with a lot with businesses that say it is time consuming and difficult to run a global report. Is that something that you can relate to?” You can either share one example at a time and check in right after each or you could through three pain examples out all at once and either ask if the prospect can relate to any of those or you could be more assumptive and ask the prospect which one they can relate to the most.
One way tactic to use to try to get the prospect to share some details around what is not working well or what could be working better is to ask wish list questions. This are questions that basically ask the prospect if they could change anything what would they change. For example: “If you could wave a wand and have any functionality added to your current system, what would you add?” “ If you could eliminate any of the existing challenges, which would you get rid of first?” “ If you could eliminate any of the existing manual processes, which would you automate first?” When you ask these, you will want to listen closely to the prospect’s answer as it might not directly state the pain that they have, but when they say what they would wish for, it can likely be traced back to something that is not working well or could be working better.
The last tactic that we can use to try to uncover some pain is to disqualify the prospect. This would be by saying something like, “Well, it sounds like you all are doing pretty good.” When you say that, you are likely going to get one of two responses. Either the prospect will agree with you and confirm the disqualification or they will challenge it and share some areas where things are not great. This is of course a last resort tactic to only use once you have tried everything else. Maybe it will trigger something and if not, you begin to label the prospect as not having any pain and begin to move on. Which by the way is not a bad place to be – if you can accurately identify that the prospect does not have any pain and begin to move on, you can improve your ability to not waste time with prospects that aren’t a fit and have a low probability of purchasing.
Once we have identified pain, there is one additional step that we can take that can provide us with very valuable information and that is to identify the impact that the pain is causing. When the prospect shares something that is not working or could be working better, we can try to drill into that by asking how that is impacting them at a technical level, impacting them at a business level, and at a personal level. Identifying the pain is one thing, but taking that further to identify what the pain is causing is when you really start to get to the next level in terms of uncovering details, qualifying prospects, and generating leads. It is important to point out that this is cold call training and a cold call might not provide the time for this level of discussion as you may want to go for trying to get a meeting when you uncover pain and then get to this level when you are formally meeting with the prospect. But this is something good to still keep in mind and there may be opportunities to bring up these questions even when cold calling.
When you identify how the pain is impacting the prospect, you should be able to either magnify or minimize the pain. To magnify, we will be identifying that the impact of the pain is problematic, meaning there likely real need and justification to resolve it. This helps to qualify the prospect and can help you to effectively create a lead. To minimize the pain, we will be identifying that the impact of the pain is marginal, and as a result, there might not really be motivation and justification to resolve. The can be a valuable direction to go if it is what it is as it can help you full disqualify the prospect which can help you to avoid creating a low quality lead that will likely just be a distraction and time waster. An example of this may be a doctor talking to someone who has knee pain. When the doctor realizes that the pain prevents the patient from exercising and that is causing a number of physical, mental, and even professional problems, she has magnified the pain and this will tell her that there could be justification to move forward with treatment options. But on the other extreme, if the doctor realizes that the pain is an uncomfortable but really does not disrupt anything that the patients does, then the pain is minimized and the doctor then realizes that discussing treatment options would be a waste of everybody’s time.
Finding Prospect Pain
What is Pain
• Something not working well
– Causing a negative impact
• Something could be working better
– Results are not as good as could be
• Are things great, good, ok, or could be
– Great or good: probably no pain
– OK or could be better: likely pain
Why Pain is Important
• No pain no change
• No pain no reason to meet
Three Levels of Pain
Slow, broken, or manual processes
Poor system or employee performance
Lack of reliability
Low revenue / market share / close rate
High cost of goods sold / labor cost
Poor delivery of services
• Work Environment
Low bonuses, commissions, compensation
No recognition, no promotions / career path
High workload, poor work–life balance
Six Pain Symptoms
1. Something not working well
2. Something could be working better
3. Process are time consuming
4. Errors are being made
5. High costs
6. Low revenue
Not Working Well
Vehicle has mechanical challenges and not operating correctly
• Symptom: The vehicle breaks down about three or four times a year.
• Root cause: The systems and processes that vehicle uses are old or faulty and not
• Technical pain: We are not be able to get to our destination
• Business pain: We are not able to complete deliveries, and this causes a decrease in
revenue and customer satisfaction.
• Personal pain: We have to work late when this occurs, and that takes away time we
would normally spend with our family.
Could be Working Better
Vehicle is slow in terms of speed and performance
• Symptom: We are not able to travel as fast as we would like or need.
• Root cause: We are not using the right size or type of vehicle for our needs.
• Technical pain: It takes us a little longer than needed to get to each destination.
• Business pain: We cannot complete as many deliveries decreasing revenue.
• Personal pain: Our compensation will be less.
Processes are Time Consuming
Vehicle has manual features and controls
• Symptom: It is time consuming to perform the tasks needed to operate the vehicle.
• Root cause: Manual processes and systems
• Technical pain: It can be very time consuming and labor intensive to fully operate the
• Business pain: Decreased our efficiency in completing our deliveries and this could
impact our revenue and costs.
• Personal pain: Our compensation will be less.
Errors are being Made
Vehicle’s speedometer displays the wrong speed
• Symptom: We have noticed that speedometer is not showing the correct speed.
• Root cause: The device that is monitoring and displaying our speed is faulty.
• Technical pain: We never know truly how fast we are going and this can impact us
from a safety and vehicle operation standpoint.
• Business pain: Could result in traffic violations and fines or create potential for
• Personal pain: Operating the vehicle with unreliable information could make it unsafe,
and this could potentially lead to physical injury.
Vehicle is not fuel efficient.
• Symptom: We have higher than normal fuel costs.
• Root cause: Vehicle not be very fuel efficient or could be a fuel leak or the system
might not be operating perfectly.
• Technical pain: This lack of fuel efficiency means we are having to stop to refill our
fuel more than we would like to and this is costing us valuable time.
• Business pain: We are spending more money and time on fuel and this is impacting
both revenue and profitability.
• Personal pain: Decreased profitability could mean a decreased bonus.
We are not making enough money.
• Symptom: We have lower revenue than we would like.
• Root cause: Not able to optimize the use of the vehicle.
• Technical pain: Not able to complete enough deliveries
• Business pain: By not accomplishing as many meetings and deliveries, our overall
revenue is lower than we would like.
• Personal pain: The low revenue is impacting profitability, and that will decrease our
profit sharing cut at the end of the year.
Why Pain is Tough to Find
1. State of denial
2. Case of latent pain
Four Tactics to Uncover Pain
1. Rating questions
2. Give pain examples
3. Wish list questions
• Adding a scale of 1 to 10 to a question
“How happy are you with the level of service from your current
provider, on a scale from one to ten?”
• Provides opportunity for follow-up
“Great. Do you mind if I ask why you gave a rating of 8? What
would need to be changed to get you to a nine or a 10?”
Give Pain Examples
• Sharing examples of pain that other prospects or clients
“We work with a lot with businesses that say it is time consuming
and difficult to run a global report. Is that something that you can
• Can share one example or share multiple during a cold
Wish List Questions
• Asking questions to identify what the prospect would
wish to change
“If you could wave a wand and have any functionality added to your
current system, what would you add?”
“If you could eliminate any of the existing challenges, which would
you get rid of first?”
“If you could eliminate any of the existing manual processes, which
would you automate first?”
• Disqualify the prospect from having pain
– “Well, it sounds like you all are doing pretty good.”
• Prospect will either disagree with your disqualification or
• Last resort tactic to try to uncover pain
1. Impact on a technical level
2. Impact on a business level
3. Impact on a personal level
Magnify or Minimize Pain
• Magnify Pain
– Identifies that the pain impact is
– Qualifies a prospect
– Helps to create a lead
• Minimize Pain
– Identifies that the pain impact is
– Disqualifies a prospect
– Avoids creating a low quality lead
Using Pain to Improve Emails
• Identify the pains that you help to resolve
– Not able to generate leads
• Build content pieces
– 3 Ways to Generate More Leads
• Send email with content piece
– Develop a pain focused subject line
• Pain will help to grab the prospect’s attention
• Track “clicks” and “opens”
– Prospects are self-qualifying
– Make follow-up calls to “clicks” first, “opens” next
• Pain is something that is not working well or could be working better
for your prospects
• It is important to find pain because if there is no pain, there is no real
reason for your prospects to meet with you and purchase anything
• There can be three levels of pain – technical, business, and personal
• Pain can be very challenging to uncover on a cold call and there are
some simple to use tactics to help with this
• Once you have identified pain, continue to find out more and how that
pain is impacting the prospect
What do you sell? ___________
How does it help? ___________
What problems do you fix? ___________
What questions should you ask? ___________
1. Asks all the key questions 2. Maps answers to document library
If You Want More Help
• The Cold Calling Equation – Problem Solved
– Available on Amazon - $15.95
• Web-based training program
– Week 1: Ideal Sales Process and Communicating Value
– Week 2: Finding Prospect Pain
– Week 3: Ideal Prospect and Qualifying
– Week 4: Dealing with Objections and Getting Around the Gatekeeper
– Week 5: Building Rapport, Interest, and Credibility
– Week 6: Generating Leads and SalesScripter Overview
– Week 7: Improving the Connect Rate
– Week 8: Inner Game
– Week 9: Managing Prospecting Meetings and Managing Sales Cycles
– Week 10: Improving the Close Rate and Disqualifying
– Walk-through services available
• SalesScripter Demonstration
– Every Thursday