I read a statistic from Impact Communications that states that 70% of people make purchasing decisions to solve problems and only 30% make decisions to gain something. Which most everyone probably instinctively knows. That is why there have been popular training methods focused on finding a buyers pain points. We have taught for years that there are really only three reasons why buyers make decisions: pain, fear or gain. But that pain is generally the most compelling. Now I have the statistic that backs that up. Why then do so many salespeople focus on the gain aspect of the equation?

Time and again, I hear salespeople talk with buyers about what the buyer will achieve by buying their product or service. Or, they go into detail about how much better off the buyer or the buyer’s company will be. Their value proposition is something like “we help you do something better” or “your life will be so much better because of us”, or “your company will improve efficiency”. It’s crap and salespeople are missing the point. Sure 30% of decisions are made to gain something but the vast majority – 70% need to solve problems. If your salespeople aren’t focusing on solving problems, more likely than not, they aren’t hitting home with 70% of buyers. As their manager, you can help. Here’s how:

Thought Proving Questions4 Steps to Figure Out How to Solve Problems for Your Prospects

  1. List all the benefits that your product or service provides
  2. List what those benefits actually mean to your clients – what does that really do for them or why do they care (not just some nice marketing tagline)?
  3. List the opposite of that. In other words, what living hell will your clients endure if they don’t have your product or service? Think in terms of what pain, frustration, hassle, disappointment, hardship your product or services take away.
  4. Create thought-provoking questions that will cause your prospects to think about the problem, the negatives that exists, the frustration they feel, the pain they endure by not having this situation solved.

Here is an example:


Why Client Cares

Opposite of Us

Problem Question

We have excellent on-time delivery statistics. They can keep on track with production and hit delivery dates. They miss delivery dates, they have to stop production which has a massive negative impact on cost, this guy catches the heat, doesn’t get the promotion he wanted. Have you ever missed delivery dates because of parts you were waiting on? Our parts are more durable than the competition. They save money over the long haul in both part replacement and in saved downtime. Profitability goes down, this guy gets fired, he gets divorced, becomes homeless. How does that impact your ability to ship your goods? We provide training of your personnel to make sure hey assemble it correctly. They have better uptime and fewer injuries. Injuries all over the place, downtime, lost profitability, this guy gets fired, he gets divorced, becomes homeless. They don’t hold you responsible do they? Is it keeping you up at night?

I know this might sound uncomfortable to ask buyers about their mental state and how they are actually feeling about the potential negatives associated with not buying your products and services, but trust me, it is a game changer. Get a buyer to share how they really feel, not just provide you some song and dance about the company and the relationship is forged. Now, remember that it is all in the delivery. One must first connect with the buyer to stand a chance of breaking down the barriers. Read this recent article Let the Client Drop the First F***bomb here to learn how to connect.

Download a template to use with your team to help them create problem questions and have a chance of solving buyers’ problems.