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Exploring Pain Points with the P.A.I.N. Technique

Sales Coach demonstrating the Skillway PAIN technique

Motivate your clients—and close more sales—with the P.A.I.N. Technique

You’re selling a solution—but do you and your client even know the problem you’re trying to solve?

The needs analysis is a crucial step of the sales cycle. By creating a buying atmosphere and asking plenty of questions, you’ll help your client discover their critical pain points. What challenges are they facing? What’s not working for them? What’s holding them back from where they want to be?

This pain is the ultimate motivator for change. When a client is confronted with their pain, they start looking for a solution right away—and they’ll sell themselves on your product or service.

Most salespeople identify a client’s pain quickly. Ask a client what’s working and what’s not, and the most important pain points usually come up right away. However, many sales professionals don’t effectively leverage these pain points to motivate their clients into action; instead, they see a pain point and immediately try and fix it with their solution.

The P.A.I.N. Technique is an easy-to-remember sales method that will help turn your client’s pain into a closed deal. Here are the steps:

P: PINPOINT the pain

A: AMPLIFY the pain

I: INVITE them to sit in it

N: NUDGE them towards the solution

Let’s take a closer look at each step.

P: Pinpoint the Pain

After an initial round of questions, you’ve identified your client’s general pain. Now, it’s time to get more details. Keep in mind that your client’s pain points can be sensitive—often, there’s awkwardness or embarrassment around these problems. It’s OK! This sensitivity is exactly what you’re trying to pinpoint and confront.

Ask questions to ensure you understand precisely where and what the pain is. If your client gives a vague response, dig deeper. Try to get as specific as possible. 

A: Amplify the Pain

When your prospect has to describe their situation in detail, they’ll really start to feel the pain. Amplify the pain by asking “why” and “how” questions.  

It’s surprising how a well-placed “Wow!” can get your prospect more animated about a problem and start giving more information. Questions like “How long has this been going on?” or “How much is this costing you?” will give you crucial details—and motivate your client to start confronting their pain.

If your client has learned to live with this problem, they’re probably used to minimizing it. They may have become somewhat numb to a significant, fixable issue. Your goal is to remind them how serious it really is. Help them quantify the issue by asking how much time, money, or headaches this issue is costing.

I: Invite Them to Sit In It!

Once you’ve recognized the pain, don’t move on too quickly. Keep pinpointing and amplifying the pain, and give them some time to let it sink in. Let them simmer in their problem.

Moments of silence can be really effective during this part of the conversation. Amplify the pain with, “Wow, that’s a substantial amount of time!” or “Wow! That’s gotta be really tough!” 
And then pause for several seconds. Give them time to feel the weight of the issue before moving on to the next step.

N: Nudge Them Towards the Solution

Sitting in pain is uncomfortable! After your client reflects on their problem and feels the full pain of their situation, finding a solution becomes their number one priority.

Now you’re ready to ride in on the white horse—but don’t try to solve their problem right away! You want them to continue sitting in the pain until you can give your full presentation and close the deal. 

It’s best only to nudge a client towards the solution, so the conclusion is their own. When you tease the solution correctly, it feels like you’re just dropping a hint. “Sounds like you could do a lot more XYZ, if you only had ABC?”

The P.A.I.N. Technique In Practice

Here’s how one of our coaching clients put the P.A.I.N. Technique into practice.

An IT solutions company was working with a prospect in the healthcare industry. Their client had outdated, slow systems that made it tedious for nurses to enter patient information into a database.

Sure, slow computers are bad for productivity, but it’s easy to shrug off as more of an annoyance than a serious issue. However, with deeper questioning, the IT company helped their client Pinpoint the problem: The slow computers frustrated nurses, and patient wait times were getting out of hand. To keep their heads above water, nurses started taking notes with pen and paper, staying late to tediously enter the day’s written patient information into the database.

Amplifying the pain took some more questions. “Is this a serious problem?” “What are the consequences of that?” The client admitted that the nurses’ written notes could potentially become a serious HIPAA violation. The IT company kept amplifying: “If you’re found to violate HIPAA rules, what could happen?” The clinic explained that a HIPAA violation could result in tens of thousands of dollars in fines.

In addition to legal dangers, the clinic was also paying nurses for those extra hours at the end of every day. Using the amplification process, the salesperson covered this issue in-depth, putting actual numbers on how the slow systems were wasting time and money. Forced to confront the details of his problem, the owner was in shock. “I had no idea how much this was costing me!”

He was allowed to sit in the pain. “That must be tough,” the salesperson said—and waited for it all to sink in. The owner didn’t take long. He asked to see solutions and wanted them to be implemented immediately. Thanks to the P.A.I.N. Technique, they closed on a deal for a problem that the client would have otherwise shrugged off!

Motivate Change with the P.A.I.N. Technique

The P.A.I.N. Technique works by pinpointing and amplifying your client’s pain points, then confronting them with that pain. Having your prospect “sit in their pain” sounds brutal, but it’s often quite subtle—a few well-placed questions and pauses will help your client stop minimizing their problem and do something about it. Then, you’re right there with the perfect solution!

Could your sales toolkit use more techniques like P.A.I.N.? From sales techniques to motivation and time management, a Skillway sales coach helps you identify obstacles and tackle them head-on. You’ll get a custom game plan that’s as unique as you are—so you can get to the next level and CRUSH your sales goals!

To schedule a free jumpstart coaching session, contact Skillway today!

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