Not enough inbound leads? Campaigns not converting? High churn? The probable root cause is that you haven't convinced your customers that you solve a burning problem that they struggle with personally.

If you can deeply understand your customers and their pain, then you can build and market products that customers will jump through hoops to use.

The only way to do this is to talk to customers. Try setting up a customer advisory board, or schedule regular catch ups - not to sell to customers, but to understand them.

Types of pain

Customers might tell you about two types of pain, Virtue Signalling (or politically correct) pain, and Personal pain.

Virtue signalling

This is when someone has a pain that sounds plausible for the role they are in. These pains are felt by the abstract business, rather than the individual. For example:

Solving these is of some value. If there was no friction (no cost, no changes required to platforms or processes) then most professionals would do it.

But there is friction. Budgets need to shuffled, approval gained and there is reputational risk when bringing on a new provider. It's too much of a hassle.

For example, saving 10% on an employee's salary doesn't really matter personally to a hiring manager if budget for that headcount has already been signed off. And a learning professional might be stressed about just getting programs delivered.

You'll probably get some sales solving these pains, but you'll also get alot of Fake Yeses. These sound like "Yeah, that sounds great, but we don't have time right now" or "Unfortunately we've already allocated our budget for the next year". It's just easier for them to not rock the boat.

Personal pain

To motivate a customer to take action, you need to solve personal pains. These are pains that are felt by the individual, rather than the business. For example:

Personal pains seem to be fairly universal and include; saving time, looking good and reducing stress. If you can work out what these pains are, then you can work out how to position your product so that customers believe it's worth the hassle and take action.

For example, offering the marketer job security by guaranteeing to meet their quota would be far more motivating than trying to hawk a slightly better analytics package. And promising to take the new manager through a learning experience that will level them up as a leader is more valuable than selling course content.

<aside> 💡 If you can understand and solve a customer's personal pain, they'll suddenly find budget, get approval and take action.