Awareness of your buyer’s persona can be much more valuable and effective than even the most extensive product knowledge.
On a recent episode of the Pavilion podcast, Becc Holland, CEO and Founder of Flip the Script, discusses the five different ways to sell, why four of them won’t do your buyer any good, and why 99% of us are using these incorrect methods.
Holland describes the five selling agendas as “product selling, feature selling, benefit selling, pain selling, and problem selling.” Using a metaphor of a patient seeing a doctor as an analogy for each selling agenda, Holland walks through each approach.
Product-Centric Selling – The patient walks in for their appointment; the doctor doesn’t ask any questions and starts talking about the different medications they have available to drive urgency with the patient to buy one of the medications
Feature-Centric Selling – In the same scenario, the doctor again doesn’t ask any questions and instead starts talking about the different features of each medication
Benefit-Centric Selling – Again, the doctor doesn’t ask the patient questions but instead starts listing all the positive side effects of the medications, trying to make a sale
Holland also notes that benefit-centric selling is what people often do—without knowing they’re doing it.
“If you’re going through your buyer persona cards and it says that your product saves time or saves money, that would be avoiding a negative side effect, but it’s still benefit-centric selling.”
Holland says the fourth selling agenda is the most dangerous:
Pain-Centric Selling – This time, the doctor asks questions of the patient, but only about the pain they are experiencing, to manipulate the buyer and drive urgency to buy medication
But what’s so bad about pain-centric selling, according to Becca. What’s the central question the doctor hasn’t answered?
What’s causing the pain?
Holland concedes that pain-centric questions are necessary, but “stand-alone, [pain questions] are most dangerous to your prospect because you have no idea what is causing the pain,” says Holland. “You have no idea what you’re solving for.” It might help your sales numbers in the short term, but it’s still treating the symptom, not the disease.
“The goal of a seller should not be to manipulate a prospect into buying more, and it should be solving their underlying problem. Yes, that will help push more numbers, but the side effect to your prospect is that they get their problem solved.”
How do sellers identify the problem? Through Problem-Centric Selling. In continuing with our metaphor, in this scenario, the doctor asks the patient pain questions to start: Where is it hurting? How long has it been hurting? Then the doctor pivots to asking questions that, on the surface, might seem irrelevant: Do you find when you’re trying to fall asleep at night that it’s been more challenging than usual? Do you have decreased appetite? Are your eyes drier than usual?
At its core, problem-centric selling is about asking yourself how well you know your buyer. Sellers often think of their expertise as having product knowledge, but what problem-centric selling leverages is buyer persona knowledge.
A sales rep needs first to familiarize themselves with the buyer. In many cases, the patient (or prospect) might know they have a symptom, but not the basis of the problem. How can you use your expertise to identify a problem you can solve for your prospect?
Learn more about the five selling agendas and how to prioritize problem-centric selling by listening to the full episode here.