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http://www.goldenspiralmarketing.com Golden Spiral Thu Apr 25 21:19:14 2019
Read Time: 7 Minutes Sales

Five Must-Ask Questions to Discover Your B2B Prospect's Pain Points

We all have pain points in both our personal and professional lives. They are what can drive us insane, and therefore, drive our choices and purchases.

In the B2B technology industry, a pain point is defined as a problem faced by a prospective customer.

A pain point is more than a slight annoyance. A true pain point is something your prospective customers can’t live without. It is what keeps them late at work. It causes them to feel at risk for their career. It makes them frustrated, and is inhibiting company growth. It has likely been discussed time and time again, but a solution hasn’t been found.

In short, it’s a real thorn in the paw, and you close deals by showing how your B2B technology company can remove that thorn.

Types of Pain Points

Pain points typically fall into three categories:

Process/Productivity Pain Points

Particular processes take too long, which inhibits productivity. Current solutions waste too much time with minimal results. For companies seeking a new technology solution, this is the most common pain point. For example, the B2B tech company known as PandaDoc speaks to this particular pain point well, as their product can slash the amount of time it takes to create sales proposals (among a slew of other cool features.)

Panda Doc Marketing

Financial Pain Points

In some cases, your prospective customers might be spending too much money on their current solutions and they are either looking to save money, or get a better bang for their buck. You’ll want to find out early on in the conversation what your prospect is willing to spend, as this will be a key qualifier (or disqualifier) for future conversations. BlueSnap, an all-in-one payments platform sold to B2B and B2C companies, addresses the financial pain point throughout their marketing and sales process.

Bluesnap website

Functionality and Support Pain Points

Your prospective client thought they had found the ideal solution to address their pain points… until it was implemented. When a company purchases the wrong software they hit functionality and support hurdles that lead them to seek out a new provider quickly. An example of a B2B technology company who speaks to this pain point well is Zoom, who focuses on client testimonials, reviews, and data to entice prospects who may be unhappy with their current solution.

zoom reviews

Why do Pain Points Matter?

Pain points help B2B technology companies speak to their prospects like humans. Rather than trying to simply sell a product, when you understand your prospect’s biggest pain points, you can offer a solution just for them.

Understanding your buyers’ pain points can help you:

Determine if a prospect is the right fit

While every sales call counts, a prospect’s biggest pain point can be a key qualifier early on in the sales conversation.

Speak to prospects on a human and emotional level

An old sales and marketing rule of thumb is to appeal to your ideal customers’ logos, ethos and pathos — also known as appealing to their logic, ethics, and emotion. When you address a pain point, you address all three.

Close more deals

In short, when you know your prospect’s pain points, and they can be solved by your company’s technology, it becomes easier to close the deal. Rather than rattling off a list of features, address their problems. Ask questions to draw out the situations that are most painful to them. Then guide them to how your product or service alleviates that pain. Your conversation becomes more meaningful and convincing, and prospects can often make decisions more quickly when told something can eliminate their company or department’s biggest pain.

Types of Questions to Ask

In general, your sales (and/or marketing team) should ask two types of questions to uncover a prospect’s pain point.

Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions are a key way to uncover your prospect’s pain points. Open-ended questions allow your prospect to do all the talking, while you practice active listening. Some examples of open-ended questions include:

  • Can you describe a challenge you’re currently facing?
  • What does your day-to-day look like right now?

Probing/Clarifying Questions

While open-ended questions will provide you with a complete story, flurried with lots of details, it is your job to pick up on those details and ask probing questions to learn even more. Some examples of probing questions include:

  • How long has this been a problem?
  • Why do you think this is happening?
  • Can you be more specific?
  • Can you provide an example?

Wait until your prospect has finished speaking before asking a probing question. Interrupting someone while they’re speaking isn’t just rude, but it may prevent you from getting some additional details you weren’t expecting.

(If you want to learn more about probing questions, Hubspot provides a list of 100 probing questions.)

It is important to note that you should avoid leading questions like, “Do you think your team could benefit from a better project management software?” Leading questions often result in a simple “yes” or “no” answer, when you want your prospect to dish the details.

5 Must-Ask, Open-Ended Questions to Uncover Your Prospect’s Pain Points

There are dozens (or maybe even hundreds) of questions that you can ask a prospective customer to uncover their pain points. But in most cases, a call in your first encounter with a prospect will last less than an hour — and it’s on this call where determining pain points is key.

1. What is the biggest challenge your team/company is currently facing?

There’s no need to skirt around the issue, this conversation starter asks prospects to name their biggest pain point — or pain points — at the moment. At this point, you don’t know where the conversation will go, and it’s important to let the prospective customer guide you. By asking this question, you’ll uncover what type of pain point they have — be it financial, process-driven, or support-driven.

As your prospect is talking, take notes about specific instances they mention that you want to follow up on with some probing/clarifying questions.

For example, let’s say your company sells project management software.

When you ask the question:

“What is the biggest challenge your team is currently facing?”

You might hear:

“We have trouble staying organized with all of our different projects.”

At this point, you need to be prepared to dive deeper. Sure, that’s their pain point — but for you, it isn’t enough.

Good follow-up questions include:

  • Can you provide an example?
  • What have you already done to address this?
  • What happens if this problem goes unresolved?

2. What takes up the most time in your day?

Here’s a quick way to get to the bottom of a prospect’s process-driven pains. Uncovering what tasks hinder productivity is essential so that you can appropriately address how your product can give them the time back in their day they miss.

Good follow-up questions include:

  • Can you quantify the cost of your inhibited productivity?
  • How many hours do you think you lose on a daily/weekly/monthly basis?

3. What does your boss care most about?

Once you find out what your prospective customer struggles with, you’ll want to find out what his/her boss cares most about, too.

With more and more individuals involved in the buying process, you’ll want to spend time getting to know the hierarchy of your prospect’s team, and what not only keeps them up at night, but their boss. (And maybe even their boss’s boss).

Good follow-up questions include:

  • How would solving this problem help your boss?
  • Can you be more specific or provide an example?
  • What is the cost to your boss right now by not having this problem solved?

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4. What has prevented you from solving this problem in the past?

In most cases, problems don’t creep up overnight. Once you’ve pinpointed your prospective customer’s primary pain point, it’s important to find out what has hindered their ability to effectively solve it. This may also unveil some related pain points that your product can solve.

Good follow-up questions to ask include:

  • Where did the problem start?
  • Ideally, when would you want the problem fixed by?
  • If you tried solving this problem in the past, how/why/when did it fail?

5. How do you think a new product would solve the problem?

Setting and managing expectations is an important part of the sales process. While your product may feel like the perfect fit, if your prospective customer has unrealistic expectations of what your product can do, you’ll want to manage them from the get-go.

Some good follow up questions to ask here include:

  • What is your timeline for getting this problem fixed?
  • Who in your organization needs the problem fixed?

Key Takeaway

Uncovering your prospective customer’s pain points can help you close more of the right deals, faster. No one likes to waste time and energy on prospects that aren’t a good fit. Determining pain points early on in the conversation can not only help qualify leads, but also improve your overall conversation. When you can share how your product solves a particular problem, you’re speaking directly to their needs— and that’s what every sales conversation should be about!

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Mark Whitlock

Mark Whitlock

Marketing Manager Mark grew up behind a DJ’s mic before entering the world of publishing. He invests his time as Golden Spiral’s loudest cheerleader.