The “So What” Behind a Prospect’s Pain and Aspirations

Reveal the answer to close more new business
by Todd Knutson

so whatBefore a prospect can become a client, they have to clearly understand the value of working with your ad agency or marketing services firm.

Does your current new business process demonstrate what the positive impact of using your services will be? Do you clearly communicate both the dollar and non-dollar value of doing so?

One of the best ways to demonstrate value is to help your prospect answer the question, "So what?"

For example, if your rapport-building questioning reveals pain within your prospect's company (e.g. revenue is slowing, trouble with a new product launch), "So what?" questions around this type of pain might be, "What will happen if revenue continues to slow?", or, "What will happen if the product launch fails?"

On the other hand, if your questioning reveals a new opportunity, or aspiration, "So what?" questions may be, "If you don't pursue this, will someone else make this potential product a reality?", or, "If you can bring this to market in the next six months, how might your division better compete against your arch rival?"

Sometimes, the answer to these type of questions may be as simple as helping your prospect get promoted - or keep their job. But, in most cases it's going to be up to you to demonstrate how using your services will directly, clearly and positively contribute to resolving the pain or fulfilling the opportunity facing your prospect.

Recognize that your biggest competitor may be inaction. Expect to have to create a sense of urgency in order to get your prospect to purchase your services. The magnitude of the sense of urgency will be determined by how well you help your client answer your "So what?" questions, and a big part of closing the deal will be your ability to quantify the positive impact of using your firm.

Here are three ways to quantify the impact of using your services:

  1. Dollar benefit. This could be "new" dollars generated - as in revenue from a new product; or, an increase in dollars - as in better marketing driving increased sales from existing products; or, dollars saved - as in less costly marketing. Whatever the situation, whether you're solving a pain or helping them achieve a goal, you need to be able to quantify the financial impact of using your services.
  2. Non-dollar benefit. People buy from people they like. Don't diminish the positive benefits of working with your firm, whether it's your high quality team, your company's reputation, motivating influence, etc. Recognize the soft intangibles that you bring and don't forget to incorporate them into your conversations.
  3. Your firm vs. alternatives.Your prospect may be considering a competitor, internal resources, or doing nothing. You're selling against all of them. To overcome these very real obstacles, you may need to be able to sell:
  •     Why you're better. When faced with a competitor or internal resources, what are the tangible and intangible reasons why going with your firm is a better business decision?
  •     What they may lose. There are potential costs to your prospect if they do nothing about a pain or don't pursue an aspirational goal. You need to be able to paint a picture of their potential loss so they can visualize themselves achieving their objective - with your help, of course.

Asking "So What?" questions is simply finding out what's at the root of their pain or aspiration. Why is it important to them? What's the potential upside and downside?

Understanding what's behind the situation and getting your prospect to verbalize it is a key part of the new business process, and to your closing more new business.

I hope this helps.

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