Pain And Gain Motivate Buyers

By Tom Reilly, author of Value-Added Selling (McGraw-Hill, 2010)

Pain and gain are the primal and powerful, paradoxical twins of human behavior. As motivators, they explain the buying decisions salespeople witness. Salespeople who understand this can become masters of influence.

The polar-opposite twins of likes and dislikes have been variably called woes and wants, burdens and blessings, or pain and pleasure. At their core lie fear and desire. Born in the Garden of Eden, fear and desire have driven human behavior from the dawn of time. There is little argument for the reality that humans are pleasure-seeking creatures that hate pain.

Freud built much of his psychology on the pleasure principle. “The goal towards which the pleasure principle impels us—of becoming happy—is not attainable: yet we may not—nay, cannot—give up the efforts to come nearer to realization of it by some means or other.” (Sigmund Freud)

Whether you call it greed, gain, or growth, there are things that your customers simply want more of.  Understanding their desires is half of your motivational formula for selling. The other half is understanding those things they want less of. What do your buyers fear? What repels them? What dissatisfies them? They want more of what they perceive as a gain and less of what they perceive as a pain.

Buyers have fears and desires. Your job is to figure it out. This means you must ask good questions and listen to the buyer. Put the spotlight on your customer. Be patient with your listening. Practice silence. To understand the customer, you must surrender a bit of yourself to the silence. “We must be silent before we can listen. Listen before we can learn. Learn before we can prepare.” (William Arthur Ward)

Once you have listened, learned, and prepared your response, you can argue persuasively that your solution satisfies their needs, gives them what they want, and helps them avoid their fears.

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