A La Carte NACE Blog
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Identifying Client Pain Points to Guide Prospects Through a Sale

As prospective clients navigate the research stage of the vendor selection process, they are actively comparing your company to those of your competitors. They are looking at several factors, but most importantly, they want to know who will best suit their needs.

In order to overcome your competition, you need to focus on selling painkillers. What does that mean, exactly?

Let me explain the difference between painkillers and vitamins. Vitamins are those features that meet a client’s expectations and keep them feeling content with your services. They create the baseline for what should be presented. A customer will expect you to have vitamins, whether that’s timely communication or high-quality service.

A painkiller, on the other hand, is where you can take the client experience above and beyond expectations. It improves and enhances how a client feels by providing them with additional value for their dollar. This could be an extra service that saves them time or an add-on product that increases value without affecting their budget.

If you’re selling a painkiller but you sell it like it’s a vitamin, no one will buy it.

You need to make sure you explain why it’s a painkiller and you must know your audience and what bothers them most in order to make sure your product or service addresses it.

Introducing painkillers to the sales formula is how you begin to convert more leads. In the process, you highlight the features that set your company apart from others. But, you first need to understand a client’s pain points so you know what type of painkiller will best suit them.

Start with active listening.

Never assume you know what a client wants unless they tell you explicitly. If you go into the sales process without listening, there’s a good chance you won’t present your services in the right light and your lead will feel unfulfilled by your proposal. Listen to their ideas, ask them questions, and repeat back their needs to confirm that you’re on the same page.

Get to know them.

A prospective client’s personality can tell you a lot of information beyond what they’re saying out loud. Take the time to get to know what makes them tick and what they value the most. If they are always on time for every appointment, you can bet they value punctuality. If they come in with a color-coded binder, it’s a good idea to promote your own organized approach.

Use visuals to guide them.

People are more likely to identify with what they love and hate when looking at a visual representation. If you ask someone to tell you their vision from the top of their head, they may struggle to flesh out the details. Instead, show them pictures of past events and inspiration gathered online to let them pinpoint what they do and do not like. This process will reveal their overall taste, which will provide you the opportunity to weave in the right painkiller to win them over.

A client will go with whichever vendor makes them feel like they are getting the most value. By meeting them halfway with a painkiller they didn’t expect, you are upping the ante and setting yourself apart from your competitors. Happy clients mean more referrals and positive reviews, so a bit of extra effort for a client goes a long way.


With 30 years of experience owning event planning, high-end catering, and design and décor companies, Meryl Snow is on a mission to help businesses get on their own path to success. As a Senior Consultant & Sales Trainer for SnowStorm Solutions, Meryl travels throughout North America training clients in the areas of sales, marketing, design, and branding. As a valued member of the Wedding Industry Speakers, she speaks with groups from the heart with warmth and knowledge, and covers the funny side of life and business.

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