ouchIs SALES your company’s strength or kryptonite?

Do your cold emails consistently see response rates between 10 and 30%, or are they hovering beneath 5%? What’s your sales teams conversion rate for turning your qualified leads into paying customers?

If any of these questions make you cringe, your value proposition probably isn’t getting your sales prospects very excited. Chances are you don’t know your customer’s pain points as well as you think you do.

Why Being Self-Absorbed is Never a Good Thing in B2B Sales

If you’re making a great B2B product, chances are you’re probably living and breathing it. While focusing on your business is important to your success, it’s easy to get tunnel vision. And before you know it, you’re in a bubble where your sales assumptions are based on your team’s logic instead of the customer’s real needs.

Here’s an example:

You have a sales tool to help B2B companies better track their sales cycle. One of the features you’re really proud of is your new iPhone app for Salesforce integration. Everyone at your company loves it. You keep telling your prospects all about the new app you have, and how much time it will save them, but then you find out they have an Android.

If you would have asked them more questions, you wouldn’t have wasted so much time talking about this iPhone-only app. Instead, you’d have learned that their biggest pain point is cost-per-sale. While your product does reduce sales costs dramatically, you already spent too much time talking about something they didn’t want and wouldn’t even be able to use. Unfortunately, you already lost their interest and attention.

To own B2B sales you have to get into your customer’s mind and find out what they really need.

Common B2B pain points include:

  • Resource Constraints: time pressure & cost
  • Performance Issues: revenue is too low or theres a churn issue
  • Ability: there’s not enough expertise to find a solution to a particular problem

You should focus on the benefits you can provide them rather than your features. Below are the four primary benefits you can provide a B2B company. You should focus on one of the four:

1. Save them money
2. Make them more money
3. Save them time
4. Reduce their risk

Which does your company’s solution provide them with?

How to Ask the Right Questions to Understand Your B2B Customers

The only way to discover your customer’s pain points are by asking them the right questions. You need to use wide, open-ended questions to get them to reveal more about themselves and their challenges. From there you can plot a course for the conversation.

Here are some examples:

  • “What are your
    [sales/marketing/etc] priorities for the next 6 months and 1 year?”
  • “What are some possible hurdles preventing you from meeting those goals?”
  • “What’s your business’ biggest pain point today?”
  • “What is and isn’t working with the solutions you’ve used to try to solve that pain point?”
  • “What would you consider a successful solution?”

It’s a Discussion, Not a Monologue

You will never learn your customer’s pain points if you’re having a monologue. Shut up as much as possible and let them do the talking.

You can guide them with leading questions, which you can and should plan in advance. Don’t be rigid and rely on a sales script though. Be ready to change course as they begin to reveal their pain points.

Whenever fitting, ask for their direction. Ask things like, “Would you like me to go more into _______?” or “Are you interested to have me do a demo for ______ now?” to gauge their interest level.

Getting closer to their pain? Keep Digging!

Don’t start to relax once you have your customer’s pain point in sight; grab ahold of that nugget and dig deeper. You have to pull back the layers to understand the true source of their pain point by asking more questions that uncover what’s driving their problem.

If they tell you that “sales are taking too long,” poke around to find out why and ask what part of the sales cycle has the most troubles.

If you see it fitting, you can even challenge some of their reasoning around their problems. It’s common for people to get sucked into a bubble of their own with their problems, and getting some outside perspective can be refreshing. If you can act as a mirror to their problems and help them understand their challenges in a new light you will win their trust and respect.

B2B Customers Are Human Too. Having Empathy Makes You Sell Better.

As you’re talking to your customer about their pain points, try to have as much empathy as possible. Be sensitive to their troubles, and don’t be dramatic or cheesy, as that may be taken as disingenuous and potentially upset them.
While you want them to do most of the talking, sharing your own experiences with similar pains or difficult experiences will make you more relatable to them and also more credible as an authority.

Why Understanding Your Customer’s B2B Pain Is So Important.
Getting to the bottom of your B2B customer’s problems won’t just help you sell more; you’ll end up with customers that are a better fit for your company. Since business should be mutually beneficial for both parties, finding customers with problems that your company is able to solve is crucial to your success. Otherwise, everyone’s time will be wasted and neither you nor the customer will be happy.


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