In business, we’re all familiar with the concept of the “Idiot Tax.” If I don’t want to take the time and energy to change my oil, I pay a price premium to have a service center do it for me. In some respects every restaurant on the planet preys on this instinct (“I don’t feel like cooking today”).
And in large account B2B, recognizing when a prospect puts out signs of engaging in these same types of “Pain Avoidance” tactics can pay dividends.
In Griffin-Hill’s Integrity Sales Model, “Pain Avoidance” is one of their classic “5 P’s” of identifying prospect need—Profit, Pleasure, Prestige, Preservation, Pain Avoidance. And though “Pain Avoidance” prospects aren’t as common as other types, in the right circumstances a prospect may be attracted to a product or service even if it’s twice the price and 3/4 the functionality of the competition—because they don’t have to think.
Prospects motivated by extreme “Pain Avoidance” have a much different approach to perceived value. They don’t ignore price and functionality, but it’s more important to them to let someone else handle as much of the process as possible. In their minds, money is a small price to pay to avoid the “pain.”
Sales reps often mis-identify “Pain Avoiders,” because their objections are interpreted as concerns about price or functionality, when in fact it’s the opposite. The prospect sees the value, they’re just highly concerned about what’s going to be required to get it.
On the phone, “Pain Avoiders” will often seem more concerned about how your product or service is going to disrupt other departments instead of their own, as a deflection mechanism against their desire to not deal with change. “Pain Avoiders” are generally highly attached to the status quo, and are only in the market for a new solution because their situation and circumstance require it. They often have a maddening ability to show interest in what you’re selling without particularly committing to anything concrete (because change = pain = something to be avoided).
In the consumer space, Apple is a classic example of targeting “Pain Avoidance.” While they frequently tout the functionality of their devices, one of Apple’s most compelling “value propositions” is Pain Avoidance—avoiding viruses and spyware, avoiding complicated interfaces, ease of setup, total interoperability between Apple devices. And a lot of consumers are willing to pay Apple’s price premiums (50-100% higher cost against comparably spec’d offerings) to get it.
In the same vein, if you find a prospect that seems sold on the product or service, but is exhibiting “Pain Avoidance” symptoms, do some needs analysis and think about restructuring the pricing and service levels. Typically this means that they’ll be paying a higher price premium for the assurance of the service they’re going to receive, but in the end they’re much happier with the perceived “value.”