If your responsibilities have involved sales and business development, you probably know a fair bit about the importance of “pain points” — the troubling issues/challenges that truly motivate individuals to get serious about solving their problems. If you can identify a genuine pain point, and have a real solution that will solve the issues, you have your foot in the door for business.
Randy Shattuck in a Raintoday.com article, however, takes the pain-point concept to a higher level, observing that not every situation is equal. There are plenty of frustrations in life, he asserts, and these, while annoying, aren’t enough to spur action. Strong client goals, however, are the catalyist from moving from “maybe some day” to “I need to deal with this now” — and if you have a trusting relationship with a potential client in this circumstance, your probability of winning a relatively quick order will be greatly enhanced.
Goals are the set of objectives the client absolutely must achieve. For clients who serve businesses, goals are the substance of their job. For instance, a CFO gets paid to ensure the company manages cash flow wisely and never runs out of money. The CFO must accomplish this goal, or he will lose his job and maybe even his career.
For companies that serve individuals, goals are typically the substance of the dreams they want to see come true. For instance, in the financial services space, retiring comfortably, sending children to a good college, and building wealth are all goals that financial advisors get paid to accomplish.
Opportunities are ideas that excite people. These are the concepts that spark their imagination and get their juices flowing. For instance, in the IT consulting space, an opportunity might be a powerful new high-speed network that can improve the productivity of the company.
Challenges, or what are often called pain points, are things that frustrate people. But not all challenges are of the same size or significance. Some are merely nuisances. Others may prevent people from achieving their goals and realizing their opportunities. For instance, in the coaching arena, a lack of understanding or will to implement best practices may prevent a company from achieving their goals.
Shattuck believes if you are dealing simply with a ‘pain point” you may have a long ways to go to get the business.
When you think about these goals, opportunities, and challenges, which do you believe are most likely to be funded? My answer? It will be goals every single time.
Why do I say that? Because goals are things that absolutely must be achieved. No exceptions. More important, goals are those things for which line items already exist on most budgets.
Opportunities may get funded—if there is enough budget and if you can convince a committee of decision influencers that it’s a good opportunity. But usually opportunities are the last things to be funded.
Challenges, on the other hand, may or may not be funded, depending on how significant they are to the decision maker. Many challenges are mere frustrations, annoyances really. But I want to ask you something. How many annoyances do you put up with every day?
It is amazing how many people learn to live with frustrations. Does your boss frustrate you? And yet you put up with him. Does your significant other drive you crazy sometimes? And yet you put up with them. I don’t know about you, but I could probably make a list in about 10 minutes of 25 or more things I would like to fix if only I had time and budget.
But I don’t have either enough time or budget. And neither do the people you want to connect with and serve. Goals are not like that. They are not those things we would prefer to do. Goals must be achieved.
Of course, while these ideas about pain points, goals, opportunities and challenges, are reasonably easy to understand, the big challenge — or pain point — for anyone in marketing, sales and business development is to identify the circumstances when an organization or individual truly sets a goal. And the second challenge, of course, occurs when that goal becomes visible, unless you really have a lot of knowledge and trust, the best you can hope for is a cattle-call invitation to bid, and hope you are low.
Deeper integration and relationships within the client organization, or well-earned reputation, will give you access earlier to the decision-making process. Alas, however, if you are like most individuals who would like to truly find a faster way to capture profitable business, you’ll only get there if you build the reputations and relationships first — and for most of us, that takes a long time.