Listen to the podcast episode here
Problem… agitate… solve…
It’s a tried and true technique I first learned about from Dan Kennedy many years ago in his book The Ultimate Sales Letter. The idea is to bring up the problem/pain. Then reveal just how bad that problem/pain is by agitating the daylights out of it.
It’s simply taking the problem/pain and talking about how it’s even worse than they thought. Then, you reveal your solution. Which is the answer to the problem/pain.
If you do a great job of getting them to see the problem and feel the pain, they will really want the solution and want it right now. The stronger and more obvious you make the problem/pain, the more their desire goes up.
Think about this as finding a scab, picking it open, then pouring a bunch of salt into it until the prospect begs for mercy. Then you show them your solution which instantly evokes a strong desire to buy.
Now, this is a copywriting tactic. But it is incredibly powerful in any sales presentation whether in print or in person.
And it’s actually super easy to use in your sales process
You simply find out what the problems are and how to agitate it directly from the prospect’s mouth. You do it by just asking questions. If you ask the right questions, they will tell you what the problem is and agitate it themselves. All that is then left is for them to discover how your solution solves the problem and makes all that pain go away.
I believe this little tool of problem-agitate-solve, actually works best when you as the salesperson talk the least. We humans are far more apt to be persuaded to buy when we persuade ourselves.
So, for example, when you sit down with your prospect at the technical assessment, you ask an open-ended question designed to get them talking. Then just listen.
Your opener might be something like: I know there’s likely a bunch of reasons you asked us to do the technical assessment. But of all the reasons, tell me about the one most important to you.
Notice this is not a yes or no question. It’s tailored to get them talking.
Then, you simply get them to tell you more
The first answer is usually superficial and only going to scratch the surface. It could also be a lie, whether they know it or not, meant to protect themselves from telling you too much. So, you need to really dig.
Sometimes literally saying, “Tell me more” will get them to tell you what you really want to know. So, either say that or frame the question in a way that says it.
Like if they tell you they top issue they brought you in for is to make sure their Cybersecurity is working as it should, you’re next ‘tell me more’ question might be: So, tell me why is Cybersecurity so important for your organization?
Depending on the answer, you want to keep asking ‘tell me more’ questions until you have revealed all the pain possible. It is not uncommon to ask many questions all designed to follow up on the previous one before you get what you need.
A real life example
For example, with audIT, I know one reason people try the software is because they want a presentation that is non-technical. But that doesn’t even come close to getting to the pain.
So, my tell me more question is simply: Why do you want a presentation that is non-technical?
The response may be different each time. Recently, one MSP told me the reason was that it’s because their prospects don’t quite understand what he’s presenting.
I asked another ‘tell me more’ question by asking: What happened last time you presented.
And I kept asking and finally found out this prospect was:
- Spending 8 hours putting one presentation together
- He had no way to templatize it so it was a new 8 hours every time he had a new prospect
- They were coming out way to confusing and technical
- He just has no idea how he can fix this issue himself
- He was losing deals he felt should have been easy layups
- The deals he did get were all because he ended up competing on price
- The clients he was landing were problems because they were not buying the right solution
- He dreads doing sales presentations because they waste tons of time and aren’t getting results
- He’s struggling financially
- It’s affecting his personal home life
See how the real problems start to reveal themselves as we dig? See how it pours a lot of salt in the wound as we probe deeper?
Now from asking these questions and doing all the listening, all I needed to do was show him what our printed presentation looks like and let him know it would take an hour max for him to complete it. He was over the moon sold on audIT because he understood the problem, had a bunch of salt poured in that wound and clearly saw how we fix it.