How Bad Is the Pain? Is It Critical? - Great Demo

How Bad Is the Pain? Is It Critical?

Sales teams are taught to uncover “pain,” but the presence of pain may be insufficient to drive a sales opportunity forward. This is why we differentiate between “pain” and a Critical Business Issue. It’s also the difference between an opportunity that results in a No Decision outcome vs moves forward with a purchase!

People (and prospects) are often willing to live with pain, sometimes forever! But pain that is sufficiently painful and impacts an organization’s and individual’s goals and objectives has a much higher likelihood of getting addressed. That pain is causing a Critical Business Issue.

Here are some examples of pain vs Critical Business Issues:

You’ve cut yourself and you are bleeding. Is bad enough that you need to head to the hospital?

  • If not, it’s (literally!) just a pain (Problems/Reasons, in Great Demo! Situation Slides). A bandage should take care of it.
  • If yes, it’s a Critical Business Issue (your life may be at stake if you keep bleeding!).

Similarly, you have a pain in your abdomen that’s been bothering you for a week. Is it bad enough that you should see a doctor?

  • If not, it’s (again literally!) just a pain and you’ll try to ignore it.
  • If yes, it’s a Critical Business Issue as your health is likely at stake!

You’re outside, it’s very cold, and you are underdressed for the conditions. Do you need to put on more clothing?

  • If not, it’s just cold for now and you’ll warm up once you get back inside.
  • If yes, it’s a Critical Business Issue because you may be freezing to death!

Similarly, you’re outside, it’s very cold, and while most of your body is well-insulated your hands are exposed. Do you need to get some gloves?

  • If not, it’s your hands can tolerate it for now and you’ll wrap them around a hot chocolate once you are done.
  • If yes, it’s a Critical Business Issue since your fingers are turning frightening shades of blue!

You are a salesperson and are considering doing some cold-calling, which you hate to do! Do you pick up the phone or hold off for another time?

  • If you are making your numbers (quota), you choose to hold off. You’ve got enough inbound leads to work for the present.
  • If achieving your quota is at risk, it’s a Critical Business Issue, and you sigh deeply, but start dialing!

You are a salesperson and just received a massive RFP which takes hours to complete, and you know that success rates are low. Do you start filling it out?

  • If you are making your numbers (quota), you leave it in your Inbox, but ignore it otherwise. You’ve got enough opportunities in your pipeline for now.
  • If you are not making your numbers, it’s a Critical Business Issue, and you sigh very deeply and start the response!

You are a sales manager, concerned about this quarter’s forecast. You have reps that “sandbag,” (who understate the probability of their opportunities closing, so that they can look like heroes when the business comes in) and you have reps that suffer from “Happy Ears” (whose optimistic forecasted opportunities often end in No Decision outcomes and never close). What do you do?

  • If you are confident that enough opportunities will close by quarter end, then you make some notes about “need to coach these guys” but do nothing.
  • If you feel that your forecast is at risk, it’s a Critical Business Issue and you schedule time with each rep to review their opportunities (and you check their definitions of “pain” to see if they have tied their prospects’ pains to real Critical Business Issues!).

Learn more about the differences between simple “pain” and Critical Business Issues in Doing Discovery: What you learn may directly impact your ability to achieve your objectives (and head to “President’s Club”)!

There are also articles on the Resources pages at that provide more insights:

  • Uncovering Critical Business Issues – What, Why, and How
  • Avoiding No Decision Outcomes
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