Pain Points: How to Identify and Resolve Customer Problems
Have you come across this article because you’re trying to improve your sales processes by understanding customer pain points?
If that’s the case, then that’s your pain point – and like with most, it’s motivating you to take action in exactly the same way you want your customers to take action.
What Are Customer Pain Points?
Why are people drawn to your products?
It’s generally because they have a problem they need to solve, and your products offer a solution.
This is exactly what pain points are: problems that your customer needs solved. While everyone (and every business) is unique, there are some basic themes to people’s pain points, and these commonalities should help inform your sales strategy.
Your customers may not even know they have a problem yet, but it’s essential that your sales teams (and your business as a whole) understand the pain points that your target audience may face.
Once you understand pain points, then you can begin to tell the story of how your products offer a solution.
Common Types of Pain Points
Every business is unique, but generally, the problems they face are universal and can be broken down into five categories. Once you’ve established which category your customer’s pain points fit into, you’ll have a clear picture of the specific benefits your products can offer them.
1. Financial Pain Points
At the end of the day, businesses exist to make money, so it’s going to be a major concern for any company. This can be seen in any decision-making process – there’s always the question of return on investment, no matter what action a business takes.
This plays out in many different ways when it comes to your customers’ pain points, and you might be able to identify them when prospects say things like:
- A product or service is too expensive
- We don’t have enough working capital
- Our marketing budget has been cut
- Revenues are good but profits remain low
These are financial pain points, and they’re an opportunity for your business to step in and help fix the problems.
2. Productivity Pain Points
You’ll often hear the saying “time is money,” and lost time is a big pain point for many businesses. Businesses want their people to be focused on doing what they do best, and anything that distracts them from this is a major pain point.
Businesses commonly have the following productivity pain points (and many more):
- Our operating systems aren’t efficient
- We’re spending too much time in meetings
- There’s too much paperwork for basic functions
- Our cold outreach takes too long
You’ll notice how all of the five types of pain points are linked, and productivity problems will affect finances when the problems aren’t resolved.
3. People Pain Points
Businesses are only as good as the people within them. If a business has problems finding talented employees, getting the most out of their staff, or keeping hold of their best people, then it will have serious consequences.
Some indicators of these pain points could be:
- We’re struggling to implement our ideal business culture
- High-employee turnover
- Training is nonexistent – employees have to figure things out on their own
- We’re not attracting the right talent
If your products help solve these pain points, then you’re in a great position to make a sale.
4. Process Pain Points
Processes are an essential part of operations, and in many cases, they’re not as streamlined as they could be.
As Kissflow notes, “a process forms the lifeline for any business and helps it streamline individual activities, making sure that resources are put to optimal use.” If this isn’t the case, then it’s going to cause problems throughout the business, causing pain points in many other areas.
- Leads are getting lost
- There’s no flow of information between sales, marketing, and customer services
- We’re not maximizing the lifetime value of customers because we don’t have an after-sale care process in place
- Our cold emails aren’t linked to the great social outreach we do
5. Support Pain Points
Businesses may have solutions in place to address some of their pain points, but if they don’t have the necessary support, then they may not solve the problem. Some pain points are complicated, and businesses are looking for the right tools to provide them with a complete solution.
If your prospect’s pain points are related to support, they may mention things like:
- We didn’t receive proper on-boarding for the software, so we’re not making the most of it
- Our employees struggle to make the most of the product – we haven’t had sufficient training
- There’s nobody to talk to when things go wrong, it takes a long time to fix issues
- We don’t feel like our current providers are invested in helping our business succeed.
How to Identify Customer Pain Points
In many cases, your prospects aren’t going to come straight out and tell you what their pain points are (in some cases, they won’t even know them), so you’ve got to take charge of finding out this information.
This is where your ability to engage with your customers comes in and can give you a good picture of the challenges that businesses face.
1. Qualitative Customer Research
Your customers have all the answers you’re looking for, so ask them!
Modern technology makes this extremely easy, but sometimes the old-fashioned way is the best. Get your customers in a room together and run a workshop. It’s a great way to discuss people’s problems and work together to find solutions.
If you can offer up your expertise to people, then they’ll be happy to take part.
2. Open Conversations – Not Just Sales Pitches
If you want to find out information, then you need to ask the right questions. You can’t do this if your salespeople are just going through the motions with a sales pitch though.
Instead, you should be aiming for an open conversation where your questions help the customer discover their pain points. Sales techniques such as SPIN sales are excellent at this and can help guide the conversation so that you understand the customer’s pain points and can help them solve their problems.
3. Learn from Your Sales Reps’ Experiences
Your sales reps are talking with prospects all the time, so what feedback are they getting?
- What are the main reasons promising leads drop out?
- What features do they want that you’re not providing?
- What features most often earn the sale?
Make sure you’re not finding out your sales team’s pain points (e.g. not enough qualified leads) but the actual pain points customers have that you’re not addressing.
We love to use positive reviews as social proof, but the less positive ones are just as useful.
It’s never fun to see negative reviews, but they can give you helpful insight into people’s pain points and what you can improve on. Collecting social feedback should already be a part of your marketing strategy, so make sure you’re getting the most out of that data.
Examples of Questions to Ask for Each Type of Pain Point
The key to finding the right information is asking the right questions. Here are some questions you can ask for each type of pain point:
- What’s holding back your growth as a company?
- How is the economic picture affecting your marketing budget?
- Are you getting value for money from your current solutions?
- Where are the major kinks in your operation?
- Does the fact your CRM and email outreach aren’t integrated cause you to lose time throughout the day?
- Is the amount of downtime with your current provider causing you to waste valuable time?
- Do you find you’re constantly having to replace high-quality employees?
- Do you have the resources to offer the level of training your staff need to get the most out of their time?
- Is a high turnover rate costing your money?
- Are you constantly switching between different software to perform simple tasks?
- Are your sales and marketing teams working from the same playbook, or are they pulling in different directions?
- Are there certain processes that keep coming up at all-company meetings because you’re not getting the most out of them?
- Do you feel like problems are quickly fixed when they arise?
- Is your provider actively working to ensure your business gets the most out of the product?
- Is there a good system in place for onboarding new employees?
Tips for Salespeople on How to Resolve Customer Pain Points
Pain points are generally complicated, otherwise, people would fix them themselves. However, there are some steps that your salespeople can take to put them in a good position to resolve the customer’s problems.
1. Understand Who Key Stakeholders Are and Who’s Making the Decisions
The B2B customer journey is complicated – there are lots of stakeholders and many back and forth interactions. One of the most important steps for salespeople is to understand who those key stakeholders are and who’s in charge of making the overall decision.
With this information, it’s easier to reach the right people with your communications, empowering people to resolve the pain point.
2. Engage in Open Dialogue
You should strive to work together with the prospect to identify pain points and find solutions to their problems. If your salespeople are only interested in quick sales, then this won’t be possible.
It takes open dialogue and empathy, so stay clear of industry jargon and reflect the language of the customer.
3. Make Use of Social Proof
Your business is helping people solve pain points each and every day. Utilize social proof to show prospects exactly how you do this.
Social proof is one of the biggest motivators when people are making purchase decisions, so it needs to be an integral part of what you do.
4. Work With the Customer Throughout the Customer Journey
Good sales isn’t about making a sale and then forgetting about the customer. You want to help them get the most out of your products, which means that you should be working with them to solve pain points throughout the customer journey.
You want your customers to come back to you over and over again. To do this, you need to continue to solve people’s pain points.
People buy your products or services to solve a pain point.
If your salespeople can zero in on what those pain points are, they’ll have a much better shot at making the sale as they’ll be able to show the customer how your products specifically solve their pain points.
Everyone is unique, but in business, problems tend to boil down to five key points: finance, productivity, people, process, and support.
Find out how your products and services fit into this, and you’ll likely boost sales.