Big Hairy Goals
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Big Hairy Goals

What Businesses Get Wrong About “Pain Point” Selling

Don’t tell me I’ll die if I don’t buy your product.

Photo by Stijn Swinnen

I was listening to the radio the other day and heard one of the strangest commercials I’ve heard in a really long time. The commercial started off with ominous crime show music with the narrator saying something along the lines of:

Thousands of people fall every year coming in and out of their bathtubs. Some of these falls are even FATAL. These people are falling because of terribly designed bathtubs.

Then the music flipped to happy, lively music and the narration switched to —

But there’s a solution! Introducing, our designed-for-safety bathtubs…

This brand wasn’t trying to be funny or ironic, they were just really pushing the “pain point” formula to a ridiculous level.

Pain point selling is an effective method of framing a sales pitch, but you can absolutely get this formula wrong if you don’t know the boundaries of using pain points to sell something.

Where Pain Point Selling Goes Terribly Wrong

Pain point selling goes terribly wrong the moment that you tug on that pain a little too hard.

When your brand highlights that the customer’s pain is SO painful that it may even kill them in their bathtub, you’ve crossed the line into selling that’s emotionally manipulating someone to buy your product out of fear.

You do not create lasting customers out of fear.

Why? Because if your product is pretty great, it’s probably going to reduce or remove your customer’s fear entirely, and your fear-focused sale tactic won’t work the next time you’re selling a new product.

By selling fear, you’ve basically put yourself out of business as soon as that fear is relieved by purchasing your product.

Lasting customer relationships aren’t built upon sleaze, they’re built upon honesty.

How To Do Pain Point Selling The Right Way

Instead of harping on one’s fears, pain point selling should have a balance of the customer’s pain point, why it’s a normal and solvable pain, and the solution.

When you fault someone for having a specific pain, it capitalizes on their pain and can easily go into sleazy selling territory very quickly.

If you instead, come from a place of understanding and relate to why their pain is a common feeling that others (maybe even yourself) experience, and that they’ve arrived in a space that requires up-leveling or growth, it positions the customer to buy from a place of empowerment rather than lack.

Solving pain points should be an offer for an upgrade and less so a life and death situation.

Buying any consumer product is rarely a life and death situation, so you should never market your products that way.

Instead, buying products help us fully embody the image we hold of ourselves or aspire to be — smart, athletic, fashionable, successful… our products empower us rather than rescue us.

I send weekly action plans every Friday to help startups like yours grow their business. Sign up here if that’s your jam.

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Sophia Sunwoo

Sophia Sunwoo

I create moneymaking brands with womxn entrepreneurs who refuse to settle for mediocre. www.ascent-strategy.com