[Rural Sales] The Difference Between Pains And Problems

 In All, Psychology, Rural Sales, Rural Strategy

The problem with problems is they are public, whereas pains are private.

We have to get past problems to get to pains because when something pains us, it is specific and sensitive to us.

And when we are in pain we are far more motivated to take immediate action so our pain goes away.

Much less so with problems. Yet problems can create many pains.

Let’s take an example:

Your customers aren’t buying enough and your sales are sinking.

When they do buy, they buy from you at rock bottom prices. 

The pains of this problem are:

  • lost profits means less margin which means less marketing to make your business better
  • losing talent or IP to your competitors
  • lay offs meaning your employees can’t make their mortgage
  • potential of losing your business or your home that you staked it on
  • a loss of identity which you’ve worked hard to create amongst your peers
  • a demotivated, dejected sales team who think the only tool they have is price
  • poor cashflow for the business meaning you can’t take the break you desperately need
  • setting a dangerous market precedent that signal that you can be bought for cheaper

I could go on.

The thing is you’d never go public on these pains.

You’d carry these pains on the inside and tell only your nearest and dearest. When they ask you mask your pain and say: “Yeah we’re going good, we’re super busy…”.

Externally the problem is lost sales.

Internally the problem is plenty of pain.

Here’s the thing (make sure you write this down and take a note of it somewhere):

There is a severity attached to pain, whereas a problem can be prolonged.

A pain requires immediate attention (ruptured achilles) where a problem (rolled ankle) can be endured.

So when prospecting, don’t think about problems. Think about pains because pains motivate, problems don’t.

Better still, get your rural prospect to point out and paint their pain. It’s far more powerful this way.

Their problems will be causing them pain.

It’s your job as a sales professional to approach them sensitively and empathetically to unearth what those specific pains are and how you can help them go away.

Just don’t rock up and ask “tell me what are your pain point are?”.

It’s far too confronting as well as totally predictable as you’ve just signalled you’ve completed another canned cookie-cutter sales course.

You need to ease into the conversation and ask: 

“Would you mind me asking, what is the problem you think you are trying to solve here?”

When you do this they will open up.

You can then probe and prompt using the powerful questions (link here again) I taught and gave you sales training tips and a few articles back to get to the root cause of their pain.

So what pains do your prospects have?

Have you labelled them?

How can you help them alleviate their pain?

What pain killer can you prescribe as the proven professional?

Your prospecting and pipeline problem right now might be your customers aren’t experiencing enough pain to take any action.

And when that happens they won’t show any urgency.

Be at pains to find out what their pain is or it could be a rather painful, prolonged sales process for you.


I’m on a mission to elevate the world’s perception of rural sales reps. I do this by teaching and training rural sales teams and their managers new skills that increase their confidence and capabilities so they can make more sales.

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