Become A Doctor Of Selling

Psychologists tell us that while there are three major buying motives, (pain, fear, pleasure); by far the most common reason people buy is to eliminate psychological pain. Something is wrong in their personal or business lives that they want fixed and they are prepared to pay to fix it.

The best sales professionals never really sell anything; they offer solutions to their prospect’s problems. They uncover pain and make it go away. Why? Because the best sales people understand that while people make decisions intellectually – they buy emotionally. This fact is best illustrated by the following exercise.

Take a single sheet of paper and draw a line horizontally across the middle. Think of something that you thought about buying recently but decided not to. Below the line, list your reasons for not making the purchase. Now think of a recent purchase that you made. Above that line list your reasons for making that purchase.

Notice that the reasons you listed for buying are almost all emotional reasons (e.g., you wanted it, it made you feel good, etc.) The reasons for not buying were almost all intellectual reasons (too expensive, wrong size or color, etc.).

Once you accept that fact that people buy emotionally, you will quickly realize that selling features and benefits does not work. Feature and benefit selling elicits a “think it over” or price comparison response, whereas finding pain will get you the order.

How do we find this elusive pain? We do it by telling stories and asking questions. Usually it takes three or more questions to get to pain. Prospects will not tell you the real reason up front; they will usually give you an intellectual smoke screen. People buy for their reasons, not yours, and until you uncover those reasons or pain, your chance of doing business is slim.

The dictionary defines pain as suffering or hurt, but in sales, pain is something that makes your prospect uncomfortable, is personal, and gives you leverage in the selling process. The salesperson’s job is to find someone who has pain, is committed to eliminating the pain, is willing to pay to get rid of it, and is in a position to make the decision. You cannot create pain, because that is manipulation. Instead, you help the prospect discover his or her pain by gently asking probing questions.

Pain will get you the sale; price will not. So become a Doctor of Sales and learn to uncover your customer’s pain and the sales will follow!

Harrison Greene

Sounds like you have been trained by Sandler.

Rod Gazzard

so right! when I train sales people I like to you use this reminder “prescription without diagnosis is malpractice”


Can you give us some example questions that may give better answers. IE nor just tell us the what, but the how too.

Steve Clark

The first sales trainer to talk about the use of the pain –pleasure concept in selling was Elmer Wheeler in his classic book “how To Sell Yourself To Others”, which was first published in 1947.

In his book Wheeler says on page 217, “Since this pleasure-pain principle is at the bottom of all human actions, what wonder rabble rousers, statesmen, politicians, debaters, salesmen, preachers, and big corporations make good use of in attempting to persuade others to their views.

It is a perfectly legitimate device.

Without it, it would be possible to influence human nature for the better.”

All sales trainers who have come after Wheeler including: Zig Ziglar, Tom Hopkins, Brian Tracy, David Sandler, Dan Kennedy and me have studied Wheeler and use his material. In short this is not a new principal.

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