Lately I’ve noticed that a lot of service organizations are focusing on pain points. This is usually evident when I visit their website. There will sometimes be buttons in primary navigation that say something like – You’re Pain Points or Challenges We Address. Now there’s nothing wrong with this approach. But I really do believe it’s incomplete.

Why do I say this? Because challenges or pain points or whatever else you might call them may or may not get funded. But goals will always get funded. If you want to persuade a champion to sponsor a project with your organization, goals are a much better focus than pain points.

Key Take-Away:

Goals will always get funded but pain points may or may not get funded.

Pain points as door openers

I recently asked a question to a couple of groups that I belong to on LinkedIn. The people who responded were all professional services marketing, sales or business development executives.

I asked: what motivates service buyers - goals or pain points? It was surprising to me how quickly people took one side or the other. But those who said that pain points motivate service buyers all pretty much agreed on this one idea.

Pain points get the door open because the prospective client can no longer ignore the pain. But they also all recognized that having a solution for the pain was not enough. Pain points might get you a conversation, but they probably won’t get you a deal. Why do I say this?


How many pain points do you tolerate every day?

Working professionals put up with a lot of frustrations every day. Think back over the last month or so at work. How many people frustrated you? How many situations did you encounter where you said to yourself – we have to fix this?

So what did you do? Did you put together a plan to fix those frustrating issues and then execute that plan? Did you come up with a strategy to deal with people who are driving you crazy? Or did you find a way to cope with all of that, maybe even avoid it?

If you are like most professionals, learning to cope with frustrations, pain points, obstacles and challenges, well that’s just par for the course. We all have to learn to do that. The people you want to connect with – the people who might fund an engagement with your company – they’re no different. Right now, they are putting up with all kinds of situations that are driving them crazy, frustrating them and even causing them a certain amount of pain.


Goals, opportunities and challenges

We help our clients create messages that address the three areas where service buyers tend to focus: goals, opportunities and challenges. Here are my definitions of these three.

Goals are the set of objectives that the client absolutely must achieve. For our clients who serve businesses, goals are the substance of their job. For instance, CFOs get paid to ensure the company manages cash flow wisely and never runs out of money. CFOs must accomplish this goal or they will lose their job and maybe even their career.

For our clients who serve individuals, goals are typically the substance of the dreams they want to see come true. For instance, in the financial services space, retiring comfortably, sending children to a good college and building wealth are all goals that financial advisers get paid to accomplish.

Opportunities are those ideas that excite people. These are the concepts that spark their imagination and get their juices flowing. For instance, in the IT consulting space, an opportunity might be a powerful new high-speed network that can improve the productivity of the company.

Challenges, or what are often called pain points, are those things that frustrate people. But not all challenges are of the same size or significance. Some are merely nuisances. Others may prevent people from achieving their goals and realizing their opportunities. For instance, in the coaching arena, a lack of understanding or will to implement best practices may prevent a company from achieving their goals.


What gets funded?

When you think about these three, which do you believe are most likely to be funded: goals, opportunities or challenges? What’s my answer? It will be goals every single time. Why do I say this?

Because goals are those things which absolutely must be achieved. No exceptions. More importantly, goals are those things for which line items already exist on most budgets. But challenges on the other hand are often those things which have been talked about, but have been put up with for a long time.

I have known professional service teams, especially in the IT space, who have pursued certain accounts for as much as a year, only to have the rug pulled out from under them at the last moment. The IT consultants built the perfect business case for why the data center needed to be upgraded and how technology failures would cost the company dearly.

So why didn’t the client sign the deal? Because of budgets. The client was willing to put up with the pain points for another year. They were willing to take the risk. Instead, they funded new software initiatives that supported some key goals they wanted to accomplish.


How this applies to marketing

If you’re wondering how this applies to marketing, to content strategies and even to social media networks, please allow me to explain. Sales people can turn a conversation from pain points to goals on a dime. They can change the course of dialogue simply by asking different questions.

But marketing content doesn’t work that way. Once the content is created and deployed – the message is the message. So if your website talks about pain points, challenges, obstacles and frustrations – that is how you will be perceived. You will be thought of as a company who fixes problems. You’ll win the deals where pain points can no longer be ignored.

But if your content, your messages, your marketing efforts are all positioned around the goals that matter most to your prospective ideal clients – goals that absolutely must be achieved – then you will be perceived as an enabler of success, even a partner. If you provision thought leadership pieces that give your prospective clients insights about how to achieve their goals, they won’t be able to resist it.

They will come in droves and when they have budget, you’ll be at the top of the list of the people they want to talk to.


How to do this

I’d like to offer you two resources to help you do what I’ve described here. The first is a webinar called Nurture Leads To Fill Your Sales Funnel: How Professional Service Firms Can Realize Consistent, Predictable Growth. This high-impact 30-minute webinar shows you how to build an editorial calendar with topics that your prospective ideal clients will love.

The second is a webinar called Make Content Marketing A Client Acquisition Machine: How To Turn Content Into A Real Revenue Producer. This 30-minute webinar shows you how to develop deep-dive content pieces that pull prospective ideal clients, who are ready to engage right now, into serious dialogue with you.