For faster sale, inflict prospect with pain of real buying reason

Every buyer has a hidden reason for buying. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH
Every buyer has a hidden reason for buying. PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH  

“Mtawapele-kea nini? [What are you buying them?]” the hawker asked, and we burst out laughing.

The Maasai lady who was hawking in Kitengela had nailed the most effective sales pitch in those two words, “Mtawapelekea nini?”

She successfully played on our pain point. The three of us men simultaneously burst out laughing because we instantly knew whom she meant (our wives) and what it meant.

She knew that we would score highly with our respective wives, if we came back home with a gift for them, and so she played on that by eliciting guilt.

Every buyer has a real (usually hidden) reason for buying and this is referred to as a pain point. Elicit it, and squeeze, and a sale will most likely follow.

No, it’s not being manipulative as I’ve heard some (dismally performing) sellers argue. In fact, you are demonstrating an understanding of the buyer’s need and saving him time by accelerating the sale.

The average husband will most likely not think of buying a gift for his wife, especially if he’s out of town just for the day.

He knows he should, maybe he’s been told by the wife, but well, most times he doesn’t.

To be accosted with the question, “Mtawapelekea nini” jolts him back to first principles.

The guilt is even more aggravated by the fact that the wares are right there for him to choose. Surely, what other excuse can he have for not buying the wife a ‘I was thinking about you’ gift?

With the pain point triggered, the buyer is primed for the rest of the sale. Her simple “Mtawapelekea nini” had moved her rapidly across the sales cycle from prospecting (skipping the tough interviewing), through to demonstrating (her wares) and on to negotiating; it had taken her that bit closer to closing.

We weren’t debating in our heads whether to buy, but what to buy. And not being particularly wife-gift savvy, we were more inclined to go with her advice on what would us earn us more appreciation from the wife.

Skirting around the pain point because you fear it will agitate the buyer, or, because, you argue, ‘he already knows his problem’, will reflect in your mediocre sales.

This does not mean being uncouth about it.


About three decades ago when life insurance was still new into Kenya, there was a seller who used to sell with a miniature coffin, which, as part of his sales pitch, he would point at and crudely tell the buyer, “When you are in here, your family will be suffering in poverty…”

No. Squeezing the pain point calls for wisdom. For instance, “Signing the contract today guarantees that irrespective of which party wins the elections, you will be awarded the tender. Delaying until after elections puts this in limbo.”

Finding the pain point calls for research, asking the buyer insightful questions and listening between the lines at the responses.

Remember buyers won’t readily admit to the real pain point.