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Rainmaking Conversations: Influence, Persuade, and Sell in any Situation by John E. Doerr, Mike Schultz

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Chapter 6

Aspirations and Afflictions

Research is formalized curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose.

—Zora Neale Hurston

Problems, frustration, pain, irritations, challenges . . . call them what you will, a salesperson must uncover his prospective client’s afflictions. Once you’ve established rapport with a client, you have the opportunity to begin the process of learning what issues the prospect has and how you can help.

Uncovering afflictions is a crucial step in the selling process. The reasons are simple:

  • If the prospect communicates his business afflictions to you, then it is likely that he will want them to go away if it’s possible, and if it makes sense to invest the time, money, and mindshare to get rid of them.
  • Each affliction you uncover gives you the chance to explore it fully to discover its true business impact.
  • The more you openly discuss afflictions with prospects, the more those afflictions take front-and-center space in the prospect’s mind.
  • Uncovering and discussing one affliction can lead—much like brainstorming—to other afflictions of which the prospect may not have been thinking in the first place.
  • If no business problems explicitly afflict the decision maker, inertia will keep her from doing anything that rocks the boat, including purchasing from you. If, however, you unearth a latent affliction or set of afflictions, you create desire in your prospective client to do something about them.

Once you’ve established rapport with the prospect and ...

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