Pain is an extremely powerful emotion, one that can make a huge difference if we tap into it. But it’s not easy! At Sandler, we typically talk about the effect it has in the sales arena, but it’s also useful in marketing and advertising. As it turns out, it’s not easy there either.
Recently, I was a guest speaker at a class at the University of Colorado Boulder. The class topic migrated to consumer behavior, and there were about 50 people in the class. Most of them were upper-class students, and some were marketing and advertising majors.
When my contact at CU called me and asked me to speak, he urged me to focus on the concept of pain as a purchasing motivator.
So when I stood up in front of the class, I started off with, “How many of you in here want to go into sales?” Only one person’s hand went up. I continued, “How many of you want to go into marketing or advertising?” The majority of hands went up. I asked, “Someone tell me why you want to go into marketing or advertising.” Someone shared, “It gives me the most interaction with the client.” I probed more deeply. “Why do you think being in marketing or advertising gives you the most interaction with the client?” “That’s what our professors are telling us.”
Then I asked one of the only people who said he wanted to go into sales, “Why do you want to go into sales?” He chuckled, and responded, “Because it gives me the most interaction with the client.” As I found out later, the person who wanted to go into sales was actually already deeply involved in sales, and knew that it gave him the most interaction with the client.
I was about to challenge their belief system with the concept of pain as a purchasing motivator. I went over the basics of how our system is different than traditional selling, then started to give examples of salespeople looking for pain in sales interactions. The looks on everyone’s faces were unbelievable. These were students in a variety of marketing and advertising organizations, some of them already had internships in the marketing and advertising firms, and they were shocked.
One of the students with an internship said, “The company I’m working for does tons of print ads, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an ad that’s really been focused on pain. Why is that?” I responded, “Because it’s hard. To tap into pain in marketing and advertising is extremely difficult.” And it is! Pain is a huge part of why people make purchasing decisions, but you have to work very hard to discover what those pain points are.
If you’re willing to put forth the effort required, really dig into what people say and not take their words at face value, you can gain a huge advantage – not just in sales, but in marketing and advertising as well.
Bob Bolak is president of Sandler Training. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.