When you say, ‘I sell annuities’ or ‘I sell life insurance’, your prospects might say, ‘So what?’ Why? Because you haven’t positioned it in a way that matters to them.
If your overall sales or your seminar attendance, for example, has been lackluster — it could be because you’ve forgotten to include an important component in your sales message — your prospect's problem.
Now, nothing we’re about to discuss involves hypnotizing your prospects, inventing a problem that doesn't exist, or trying to convince them to care about what you want — in fact, it’s the opposite. We want them to clearly identify the problem they already have. And we want them to articulate it to us in their own words AND tell us why it’s important to them that they solve it.
So, how do you find out what your prospective client’s problems are?
It’s pretty simple really, you:
Thanks Captain Obvious, right? But not all salespeople approach it this way. Instead, they assume they know what their prospect’s problem is, they talk about the solution before a problem has even been identified OR they fail to actively listen when the prospect starts talking.
So, how do you ask prospects what their problem is in a way that doesn’t offend them and doesn’t cause them to clam up?
Below are some sample questions to get your prospects to open up, reveal what they want and tell you the problem they’ve identified that’s stopping them from getting there. And a key point to recognize is that it’s a problem they’ve identified. They will be more likely to reject your solutions if you try to tell them what their problem is. You need them to state it willingly. And it’s possible that what they think is the problem, might not actually be—but don’t get hung up on that or in correcting them. You can give them what they need by way of what they want — think kale in a strawberry smoothie.
You could ask the following questions in a survey, or in person. And if you’re asking during an in-person client meeting, that’s when you want to actively listen to their responses — let them speak without interruption because anytime we’re given the floor and someone lets us speak without interruption, we feel validated and heard and we reveal more than we’ve ever felt comfortable doing before.
Get your prospects talking about their problems
This question gets the prospect talking and analyzing their situation. They are forced to think about where they want to go financially and then identify the most pressing problem that is preventing them from getting there. More than likely the most pressing problem is the one they’re most motivated to address.
This is another way of asking the first question. But it focuses first on them describing their ideal financial situation and envisioning that. Then the follow up to that is helping them express why they haven’t achieved this yet.
This question is about identifying that next small step they might be willing to take. Again, it’s important they tell you what they want to accomplish so they're more inspired to seek out ways to achieve that.
More people should ask this question. How much sense does it make to ask someone what they want to buy…so you can provide it? A lot of sense. Plus, by asking what they “wish” you offered, it gives you the opportunity to let them know you actually do offer something like that or at minimum, it gives you insight into what matters to them. Because if they wish you had a product or service that did X, then you know X is most likely their problem … without them having to come right out and say it.
This last question is posed to your existing customers because they can be a great resource for discovering why others might want to work with you. Existing customers are more likely to be comfortable talking about their challenges and are more aware of why they chose to work with you over one of your competitors — especially if they've been happy working with you.
Speak about the problem when describing your product or service
Asking these questions and listening to the answers can help you determine whether you have a fitting offer. And the way you package this solution in your sales message/marketing is critical. You have to use the same words they’ve used to describe their problem - repeat it back to them. Be sure to focus on the problem in your marketing because that’s what’s going to grab their attention — not the solution.
You draw prospects into your sales funnel by showing them you thoroughly understand what their problem is. Think about how you feel when someone talks about a problem you’re facing and describes it so perfectly, you think they must be mind-readers. You conclude that if they understand what you’re going through so well, they must also have the ideal solution, right?
Once you have these conversations and know the common problems people face in reaching their financial goals, you can speak to it in your marketing and and actually attract other prospects that you haven't had a conversation with yet.
Your marketing and future sales conversations will be more effective when you tailor them to a specific problem and direct it to the people who are experiencing that problem. The goal is to get prospects to "self-select." Meaning, your marketing is so good at describing the problem that they'll think -- That sounds like me; I think this person can help me.
If you can speak to problems that afflict numerous people, such as debt, it means more leads and a larger pool of clients you can help.
And it's true that many people are weighed down by debt in their lives, which is preventing them from reaching financial freedom.
According to this article from The Motley Fool, there are many people across several generations, that are struggling with debt*:
80.9% of baby boomers
79.9% of Gen Xers
81.5% of Millennials
So, let’s say you wanted to help people with this. You need to market to that problem or pain point so that those affected by it would be drawn in and then you could offer novel solutions to help them solve it.
In conclusion ...
You don’t want to jump right into talking about your solutions, as anxious as you may be to share them. Going back to the "I sell annuities", "I sell life insurance"... those wouldn't be the first words out of your mouth. Because your prospective clients won’t be ready to listen to them and won't be ready to do business until they know you deeply understand and are empathetic towards their problem. But once you do know it you can say, "We work with a lot of people who have that same problem and we were able to help them solve it. Would you be open to hearing about how we did it?"