Customer feeling her pain

How can you easily find prospect’s pain points without making them defensive and guarded?

It is difficult, time-consuming, and often misleading during your sales prospecting when you are trying to find out your prospect’s pain points and frustrations of your prospect.

As a salesperson, you are trying to find it as soon as you can. But your prospect is under the pressure that he may get a bad deal. He is gunning to get the best deal possible. 

This is because selling is often experienced by the salespeople and prospects as a competition in which they try to get more from each other. 

 Prospects view sales executives as some kind of conmen and hence not worthy of trust. 

 Salespeople are often focused on either getting the deal closed or selling more to their prospects. 

 The focus invariably turns to – who gets the better deal? 

 Wait … Let us think about this situation deeper. 

What is the most profitable and fulfilling outcome in any sales process? 


  To put it in simplest words, 

  The best outcome in any sales process is the salesperson ‘guiding’ his prospective customer, 

  Find the ’solution’ that matches or exceeds buyers expectations, 

  Using the ‘products’ or ’services’ that the salesperson sells, 

  At the “price-point” that makes the buyer feel that he or she is getting a “great deal”.

It is important to remember from the sales or business development executive’s point of view here is that the price point in the sales process ensures at least a minimum acceptable profits for the salesperson, in that deal. 

 After carefully reading this, you will see that in this situation both the buyer and seller are happy. 

 Selling is no more a tussle between two opponents, but a journey experienced together by fellow travelers for a common goal towards the solution to the buyer’s needs and wants.  

If as a business development executive, if you want to allign your prospect with you, there are 2 critical things that need to happen at the start of the sales cycle – 

  1.  Your prospect feels trust with you – because once he trusts you, he opens up and talks about the real things that bother him.
  2. Creation of empathy between you and your potential customer. This is when both you and your prospect start understanding what you both are really saying and what is your real intent. 

 This is when the conversations become smooth and productive. 

Do you know which tool can help you achieve trust and empathy in your sales conversations? 

It is when you use effective sales questions, right from the start of your conversations. 

 In sales,  these questions are called the discovery question. They literally help you discover your prospects’ pain, processes, priorities, emotional impacts, expectations, and goals. 

Do you know there are 2 𝘁𝘆𝗽𝗲𝘀 𝗼𝗳 𝗱𝗶𝘀𝗰𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿𝘆 𝗾𝘂𝗲𝘀𝘁𝗶𝗼𝗻𝘀?

If you know when to use each type of these questions, can decide if you are going to win and lose your sale.

The two types are:

𝗗𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗰𝘁 Questions & 𝗜𝗻𝗱𝗶𝗿𝗲𝗰𝘁 Questions 

So, what are the examples of some direct questions used in sales discovery? 


“What is bothering you currently in your [current situation] ? “

“Which things are creating 𝘴𝘵𝘳𝘶𝘨𝘨𝘭e for you these days?”

“𝘞𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦 are you facing 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘣𝘭𝘦𝘮𝘴 as of now?”

“𝘏𝘰𝘸 𝘮𝘢𝘯𝘺 𝘸𝘪𝘥𝘨𝘦𝘵𝘴 𝘥𝘰 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘴𝘦𝘭𝘭 𝘯𝘰𝘸?”

If you have built a solid rapport with the prospect, you can also use a question like – 

“What keeps you awake at night these days?” 


Pro Tip – Remember that these questions can feel very direct and hard-hitting for most of the prospects you encounter. Most of us feel very defensive when we are asked about our biggest pains. It makes us feel vulnerable. Very few of us are strong and courageous enough to face the pain and explain it as it is to anyone who wants to know about it. 

Also, Check- What to do if the prospect stops responding to you?

So let us have a little more empathy for the emotions of our buyers. Let us use our language more carefully with them. Let us use the “indirect questions”. 

What are the examples of “indirect questions” used in sales discovery? 

“𝘏𝘰𝘸 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘺𝘰𝘶 doing your [𝘵𝘢𝘴𝘬] 𝘵𝘰𝘥𝘢𝘺?”

 “Why do you do this [task] in this current way?” 

“What happens when this [situation] happens? 

“𝘞𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘥𝘰 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘥𝘰 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘯 [𝘴𝘪𝘵𝘶𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯] 𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘦𝘯𝘴?”

“Can you tell me 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶𝘳 𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘤𝘦𝘴𝘴 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘯𝘦𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘥𝘰 [𝘧𝘶𝘯𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯]?”

“How do you think this [situation] can be improved?’

Did you observe that indirect questions are used to ask prospects about how they are dealing with their tasks and challenges in their tasks today? 

 These are the tasks that are related to the areas where your prospects need solutions from you. 

It is always about their current painful situation and how they may be looking to get out of it. 

Generally, you will use these questions based on your experience of where your prospects generally struggle. 

These questions very subtly lead your prospects towards the solutions that you can provide them. 

 Your buyers will not feel intimidated or guarded, as these questions open them up gently. 

 The conversations driven with such questions can often tell you a lot more about your prospects than you ever imagined. They also put you in your prospects’ shoes emotionally and experience the struggle yourself. This ultimately leads to empathy and trust. 

 Finally, for the prospects, these questions open the door for the story they want to actually tell. 

 On the other hand, direct questions which put prospects in challenging situations may make it difficult for the buyers to describe their struggle or pains properly. 

Pro Tip –  You need to be and sound, genuinely interested in your prospect and his situation. You can imagine yourself as a doctor examining his patient. The best doctors always handle the emotions of patients carefully, while dealing with their pain.

When do you know that you will soon find out your prospect’s pain points?

So, if you have used these questions well then, most often come out with expressions like 

“𝘐 absolutely 𝘩𝘢𝘵𝘦 𝘪𝘵 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘩𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘦𝘯𝘴.” 

“It can get so confusing!”

“Man, 𝘵𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘢𝘬𝘦𝘴 a ton of time.”

“𝘞ish we were doing that today.”

Did you see the breakthrough that you have achieved in the initial phase of your sales conversation here? 

Now your potential buyer is feeling upset and emotional about what is going on.

He/she will be more than willing to explore the solution to come out of their painful struggle. 

Now the ball is in your court, even without your prospect knowing it. You have a chance to be their guide or mentor. 

So what do you do next? Do you start pitching the solution to the prospect? 

 Have you realized how using the right questions at the right time can put you in the driver’s seat in sales? 

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