How Pain and Gain Can Help Clients Make Decisions

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

choosing wayWhen we are working with a client, we need to know what would be the best way to encourage them to make decisions that draw them to our products and services.

It’s been known for some time by psychologists that people are driven in two different directions when they are making decisions. One way is ‘away from’ pain; the other is ‘towards’ gain.

If you are aware of the direction your prospect is thinking about, it opens up opportunities for you to present solutions that match their way of thinking. This will help the prospect to realise the benefits of change and possibly increase the urgency of that change.

Remember, prospects make decisions to move away from challenges and problems. To increase awareness of the urgency to make a decision, we can use questions that increase the pain points and stress the impacts of those pains

This makes the prospect think seriously about the solution, while reducing the impact of the money they would spend or the risks they would take.

Examples of Pain Questions

  • How long has this been going on?
  • How much time have you already spent on this?
  • What has it cost you in lost production?
  • How have these issues impacted on your business so far?
  • Has it affected other areas of the business?
  • What other impacts is this problem having on you?
  • How much longer are you willing to let this happen?
  • What impact has it had on you personally?
  • How has it affected your customers?
  • Has it cost you money? How much?

What you’re doing is getting the prospect to feel uncomfortable about the situation and increasing the urgency of finding a solution and making the decision to go with you.

There is another question consultants ask that increases the impact of pain. It’s known as the ‘Do-Nothing’ question.

  • What would the costs be if you did nothing about the situation?
  • What would happen if you waited to solve this?

There is also the other direction that prospects take that can make your questioning process go in the opposite direction. Prospects also make decisions to move towards solutions, benefits or opportunities. We can use questions to heighten the value of what they would gain by using your  solutions.

These types of questions build awareness of what they would gain with the solution. It helps the prospect see how they and the business would benefit.

Examples of Gain Questions:

  • How would the business benefit of solving this?
  • What results are you expecting from the improvements?
  • How will you know you’ve succeeded in this project?
  • How will the staff feel when this is solved?
  • When do you see the project making you a profit?
  • How do you see this improving profitability?
  • What impact do you see this having on your client/customers/staff?

All of these questions help the prospect to imagine the value that changing the situation may have on his future operations.

So, think through how you can either increase pain to make the prospect aware of the urgency of the change, or increase the impact of gain if they decided to go with your product or service.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training | Image courtesy of jscreationzs at

450 sales questions free report

Updated on: 1 May, 2014

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