What To Do When Your Five-Year-Old Threatens To Run Away Guiding Prospects Successfully Through the Pain Funnel

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Guiding Prospects Successfully Through the Pain Funnel

We’ve talked a lot about pain in our recent blogs, which leads us naturally to, talking about Sandler’s Pain Funnel. But, I’d like to tell you a quick story first:

It is 5:30 in the afternoon on a beautiful summer day. Mom hears little five-year-old Jimmy charging up the back porch. He rips open the screen door and roars into the house. He jumps into the kitchen where mom is busy cooking dinner. Before she can even ask Jimmy if he had fun playing outside, he says, “Hey Mom, can I have some ice cream?”

His mom replies, “You might have ice cream after dinner.” The next afternoon, Mom hears Jimmy running up the stairs. He bursts into the kitchen again and asks the same question: “Can I have some ice cream?” His mom says, “Jimmy, after dinner, you can have one.”

On the third day, Jimmy comes running right in the same. He looks at his mom and says, “Mom, can I…” As soon as these words come out of his mouth, he sees that look on her face. He already knows what her answer will be. So he says, “What time is dinner?” “In about 25 minutes,” she says. Jimmy says, “Okay,” and goes back outside.

So you ask, “what is the point of the story?” People are taught at a very young age not to lay down all their cards, or not to spill the beans. Why? Because you usually don’t win if you reveal your hand too early in the game. In our story, Jimmy drove his mom nuts with the same question every day at dinner, until he realized that she was at the boiling point and going to get angry. Jimmy didn’t want to face the pain of making his mom angry, so he changed his question to one that made mom happy. He avoided pain, just like most prospects want to do when you visit.

Most people are trained to avoid revealing their true agenda in potentially difficult situations. Knowing this, we address this issue in the Sandler Sales process, using the patented Sandler Pain Funnel, a powerful tool used to uncover a prospect’s true agenda or “pain.”

understanding the pain funnel

The Pain Funnel is a strategically organized set of questions designed to uncover a prospect’s pain. On the other hand, it could also help you discover that the prospect does not have any pain. Either way, this is good for you. Why? It allows you to qualify or disqualify the prospect as a real prospect. If they have pain, then you can lead them to resolve or eliminate their pain. If not, you can shake hands and part as friends.

Before we get into using the Pain Funnel, remember that the funnel works great on its own, but it works best when combined with other techniques we use in the Sandler Sales Process, especially the Sandler Pain -O-Meter and reversing tools. So stay tuned for future blogs on these topics.

Again, the Pain Funnel is a series of questions that an experienced salesperson uses during the Pain Step, either in a face-to-face sales call or over the phone. It includes eight painful questions designed to gradually bring the prospect closer to sharing their true agenda or pain.

Here are the 8 questions in order:

1. “Tell me more about that…”

2. “Can you be more specific? Give me an example.”

3. “How long has that been a problem?”

4. “What did you try to do about it?”

5. “And did that work?”

6. “How much do you think that cost you?”

7. “How do you feel about that?”

8. “Have you given up trying to deal with the problem?”

You saw earlier in Jimmy’s story how people prefer not to reveal their hand beforehand. Many people fear the consequences of unbridled honesty and showing their true colors. So, the Pain Funnel assumes that the prospect’s agenda will remain hidden, and helps you bring the truth to the surface. But you must be subtle and methodical in your approach when using the Pain Funnel. If you try too hard too quickly, you will most likely run into some resistance. The prospect may feel threatened or vulnerable, and quickly shy away from telling you the truth. So stick to the tried and true questions in the funnel along with the other techniques you learn in the Sandler System, and you’re sure to put your prospect at ease and guide them through the discussion of their real issues and pain.

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