One of the most effective sales techniques we have run into is the approach that identifies areas of “pain” in the potential customers’ lives. Think to yourself, “What areas of discomfort can my company reduce or eliminate altogether?” To gain more specifics, ask your would-be customers, “What do you find frustrating when dealing with companies that offer ______?” (Fill in the blank for your product or service.) Find an intense area of pain that your company can cure, and you will have an eager sale, with repeat business just waiting to happen. Let us share a local example:
Home Fridays is more than just a house-sitting business. It is a company that is built almost totally on selling piece of mind to people who are out of town or who own second homes. The idea came to Shannon Bassett when she was having problems with her own second home. One winter night, she and her husband arrived back in Bend rather late during a snowstorm. The company that had been contracted to clean the leaves and pine needles out of the gutters had not done the job. With a heavy snowfall on the way, the gutters promised to be a mess unless something was done right away. Both weary from a long road trip, the couple had to get out their stepladders and clean the gutters themselves.
Later that evening, Shannon started thinking, “What if someone owned a company that would make sure things like this never happen?” A few months later, Shannon owned that company. Its name, Home Fridays, was a take-off on weekend travelers and the peace of mind they can now have knowing that someone who cares is there on Friday—or on whatever other day of the week help is needed. This company takes care of any detail the owner wants, including yard maintenance, maid work, minor repairs—whatever needs attention. They’ve even been known to stock the refrigerator with selected goodies just before the customer’s arrival. Talk about pain reduction!
At least once a week, someone from Home Fridays visits the customer’s house, checking for everything from break-ins to frozen pipes. The company then sends regular reports to clients, along with photographs to reassure them that the place still looks great. They even start and drive cars regularly, to keep them in running condition. When a security alarm system rings, they are the first to be called.
Home Fridays sells peace of mind, responding to a need for pain elimination that nobody else had thought of fulfilling. The entire operation is built on top-notch customer service, service you can always depend on.
What is your version of this story? What can you do to identify an area of pain in a potential customer and eliminate it with your superior service?
By the way, doesn’t it follow with reasonable logic that a painful period of time, such as the current slump, might produce even more than normal opportunities for such pain reduction? To make this approach work, you need only two factors: the ability to notice and track pain when you see it, and a little creativity in forming your solutions. Just ask Shannon Bassett. Pain reduction is working well for her—and for her many happy customers who are trying to remember how they ever got along without her company’s services.
Lowell H. Lamberton is professor of management at Central Oregon Community College. You may reach Professor Lamberton at 541/383-7714 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Brian Shawver can be contacted at 541/330-0404 or email@example.com. You can contact Shannon Bassett’s at Shannon@homefridays.com.