If they’re not writhing, they’re not buying.


Perceived value is relative. It all depends on how much pain and urgency you’re experiencing and how readily a potential solution can relieve that pain.

If you were having a heart attack, who would you want working on you: the cheapest surgeon or the best-qualified one?

I’ll bet I know.

When you’re in enough pain – physical, emotional, or financial – cost considerations fall a distant second to the overwhelming issue: “Can this person make me feel better?”

Your value lies in your pain-relieving skills.

If business is slow, it’s tempting to discount your prices or offer special deals, just to increase your cash flow. Big mistake. Big, BIG mistake. Cutting your prices:

Instead of decreasing prices, you want to focus on increasing your perceived value to the client. The best way to do that is to compellingly and relentlessly get her to acknowledge just how much pain she’s in – and then clearly demonstrate how and why you are just the pain reliever she’s looking for.

Because, let’s face it: In an age where people are adamant about getting HUGE value for their money, a prospect not writhing in pain is a prospect not likely to invest money in your services.

What’s more valuable to the prospect: money in their pocket or you in their corner?

So just how do you go about identifying your prospect’s pain? Here are some simple (although not necessarily easy) ways to do that.

Think about what YOU do best.

Yes, yes, I know: All the prevailing marketing wisdom says to keep the emphasis OFF you and ON your client.

I’m not challenging that. But here’s the reality: If you don’t have some high-level skills to offer in service to your clients, then there’s no point in you pretending to be in business.

So you get to look at the activities where you stand head and shoulders above the rest. It’s your exceptional performance here that will translate into pain relief for your clients.

Here’s a for-instance: One of my best things is asking questions that enable my clients to clarify what’s important for them to do and what is, at least for the moment, a waste of their time. This ability to ask smart, probing questions is a big reason I’m able to shift clients from overwhelmed paralysis to excited, confident progress.

Don’t settle for surface answers.

It’s very easy for your prospects to give you facile, off-the-cuff answers when you try to determine exactly why they’re willing to consider hiring a service provider. Don’t let them get away with it. Those surface answers are just the tip of the iceberg; the serious pain they’re experiencing lies underneath.

A simple yet powerful way to keep digging is to ask questions in the basic form of, “And if _______ happens, what’s that mean for you?”

In my initial get-acquainted call with a client who’s currently kicking serious butt, she repeatedly mentioned how she felt out of control. Rather than leave it at that, I followed up with more questions, such as:

By the time our 40-minute call was over, she had articulated a LOT of pain she was currently experiencing. She had also painted a clear picture of what positive outcomes she would enjoy if she could lose that out-of-control feeling and replace it with a feeling of confidence based on having an actionable, strategic plan for growing her business.

For my part, I had demonstrated through client success stories that I was confident I could show her how to take charge of her business growth. I’d also determined that she was the type of determined, energetic, whatever-it-takes type of client I do my best work with.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Focus on what they currently lack.

In this current example, several of my questions were designed to identify what the prospect’s business was currently failing to provide. While money is an obvious item in short supply for many new businesses, what was even more painful for this prospect were the negative emotional consequences of her current situation:

Once we were both clear on these pain points, it was easy to flip them 180 degrees and identify how she would feel if they were relieved. She realized she would experience:

My job was to partner with her and provide tools and resources to shift her from lack to abundance. So far, we’re both having a great time making this happen.


How do you identify the primary challenges your ideal client faces? How do you uncover her real pain? And how do you demonstrate to the right client that you can alleviate that pain for her? Any powerful discovery questions you’re willing to share will be much appreciated!

Or are there so many thoughts and ideas swirling through your head right now that the last thing you can do is clearly articulate your role as pain reliever? If that’s the case, maybe we should talk.

As I mentioned, I’m good at asking questions to create greater mental clarity and focus in both prospects and clients. If you and I spend some time on the phone asking and answering questions, we might find we’d make a great problem-solving team. We might find out we wouldn’t. But one way or another, it would be 40 minutes well spent.

If you’re up for exploring that possibility, just call me at 319-270-1214 or email me with “Are you the right pain reliever for me?” in the subject line. We’ll arrange a time when we can get acquainted and figure out what’s in everyone’s best interests.

(And thanks to GollyGforce for posting the pain image in the Creative Commons section of Flickr.)

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