How can you recognize a sales opportunity?

The first thing you look for is friction. If you’re selling, you need to find out, “what is bothering my prospect? Why is he talking to me? What is he unhappy about?” You need to find out where they’re in pain. Where do they feel that there’s a value gap? How do you recognize that gap? By looking for friction.

It’s not very hard to find friction if you look for it. But it’s not enough to simply recognize and sympathize with your customer’s pain. Many salespeople are in too big a hurry to prescribe their product or service solution for the pain, without doing a proper diagnosis.

Imagine if you went to a doctor, and as soon as you sat down and said, “my head hurts,” without any sort of examination he just handed you some pills. That’s what a lot of salespeople do, because they’re more focused on flogging the product than on providing actual solutions to friction.  

To transform friction into solutions, you need to truly act like a doctor and diagnose causes by asking the right questions. And when you do this, you shouldn’t take people’s first response at face value. People aren’t going to necessarily tell you their true need, and they often have no idea what they need to fill the gap.

Very often, if you really want to add value, you need to help people understand not only the pain, but also the solution. Friction is only a symptom of a problem. Friction is like the pain you feel when you have an illness. If something is paining in your body, you don’t necessarily know why. But you do know that you have a problem.

The sales opportunity comes in transforming whatever is causing that pain and destroying value, into something that is adding value. Moving from pain into gain. Moving the needle from the negative side of the value spectrum to the positive side. Let’s say you have a scale of 1 to 100. Right now, you’re at 15 because you have a massive headache. Can we move you to 85, where not only is the pain gone, but you’re feeling much happier than you were before? That’s where the sales opportunity lies.