Never Forget That Dissatisfaction Matters For Growth

While most of us as entrepreneurial leaders prefer to focus on the positive, the reality is that our futures and businesses are dependent upon dissatisfaction. Don’t believe me? Take a look at your own buying preferences.

For example, when do you decide to make a change and purchase something new? Exactly, when you feel some sense of dissatisfaction.

  • When you put on some clothes and realize they feel too tight
  • When you get so fed up with your bank’s policies and charges
  • When you have a bad experience with your doctor (or accountant or financial planner etc.)
  • When you get tired of your computer’s slowness (or blue screen of death or lack of a certain feature)
  • When you talk with a friend who’s had an amazing experience with a vendor
  • When you drive in someone else’s new car
  • When you visit a home that’s nicer than yours (or see a specific item in the house, like a large granite countertop island)
  • When you hear a customer service agent say, “I’m sorry we can’t do anything to fix that for you. That’s not our policy.”

In other words, the times you make changes are almost always driven by some level of dissatisfaction.

So what does that say about your prospects and customers? Since they’re exactly like you and me, it says that if you and I don’t highlight and address dissatisfaction, we’re probably going to be poor and always lead a small business. So, what can you do to turn that around? Well, here are a few ideas.

1. Focus Your Marketing More on Dissatisfaction 

While we like to think that most of us change because of pleasure, the reality is that we primarily change because of pain. Or to put it another way, while we like to think that “Make 50% more” will outperform “Tired of Not Being Able to Pay Your Bills,” in general, the later will outperform the former.

Why? Because most people connect pain to change. Even though a different bank/credit union may be a better fit for you and your business, you know that changing your bank accounts will involve a lot of pain (you’ll have to re-enter all your bill payees and account numbers, you’ll have to reorder checks, you’ll have to contact your credit card processing company and set up new accounts and new links on your websites, you’ll have to carry a cash surplus in two different accounts during the transitional period, etc.).

In other words, until the pain of NOT changing is greater than the pain of changing, most people won’t change (even though they might believe that a better vendor or solution out there would make their life better/easier).

So, as you take a look at your marketing materials, are you raising the issue of dissatisfaction in their lives? Or are your materials focused too much on you or the positives of using your products and/or services?

2. Amplify the Dissatisfaction

One of the mistakes a lot of people make when they’re communicating about any level of pain, is that they want to leave it as quickly as possible. For example, a typical sales person might say (let’s pick a sales person for a lawn care company) , “So, are you tired of mowing your own lawn?” “Yes.” “Great. We have a great lawn service company that can take care of that for you.” Quick in. Quick out.

But that’s not a wise choice. Great sales people know that you have to keep digging at the pain.

  • So, Mr. Johnson, I’m guessing you’ve asked me out here today because you’re tired of mowing your own lawn. Is that correct?
  • Yes. I’m tired of it. I’ve been mowing lawns since I was ten years old.
  • Wow. You’ve been mowing for 40 years. That’s a long time. So, tell me, what’s motivating you to make a change now?
  • Well, I’m now 50 years old and my kids are all grown up and live way from home and I’m thinking it’s now time to treat myself to weekends that are free of mowing.
  • Good for you. You deserve some rewards at this stage of life. Is there anything else?
  • Well, my back isn’t what it used to be and by the time I’m done mowing, it usually hurts a little.
  • As you know that is one of the unfortunate consequences of growing older. Is there anything else?
  • Well, to be honest, I’ve been thinking a lot lately that my time is worth a lot of money. And every time I mow my lawn lately, I keep feeling like I’m losing money.
  • You do? Well, if you were to put a price on it, how much would you value an hour of your time these days?
  • I guess, a fair estimate would be about $100/hr. (after a few more questions of digging around for pain and dissatisfaction, a good sales person would wrap the whole conversation up in a bow and say something like this)
  • So, if I’m hearing you correctly, you want to hire a lawn care service company because, after forty years of cutting grass you’re tired of it, your back hurts when you’re done with it, you feel like you’ve reached a stage in life where you ought to be free of it, and every time you mow your lawn you feel like you’re losing $150. Is that correct?

Now, who do you think is going to get the job?

So as you look at your own sales and marketing conversations, do you take the time to amplify the dissatisfaction? Do you ask a series of questions that are designed to get your prospect to identify the cost/pain/dissatisfaction? Or do you move off it way too soon?

Remember, people change when the pain of not changing exceeds the pain of changing. If you don’t make them feel that, they won’t buy.

3. Never Assume Everyone Has the Same Dissatisfaction

One of the best parts of marketing and selling is that it’s a “belly-to-belly” sport. You and I never sell to a company, we sell to a person. We never market to a company, we market to a person. And since every person is different, we can’t assume “everyone” wants to buy for the same dissatisfaction reason.

For example, you may market your service or product as something that saves a company X amount of money. That’s a good thing. A lot of buyers will buy to save money. But not every buyer buys to save money (if that were true every product or service that saves people money would have billions of customers and there would only be price differentiation).

Sally, who wasn’t interested in buying from you last month, might this month, not because she wants to save X dollars, but because her current vendor was a jerk this past month. Or maybe she was tied into a vendor for 36 months and that contract ends this month. Or maybe there’s a feature that she wants that your service/product offers that her current one doesn’t.

In other words, you can’t assume everyone who buys whatever you’re selling forms a monolithic group. People are people and have a wide variety of reasons for why they buy anything—which means you want to attack dissatisfaction from a variety of angles (not just one). Which means that the more you know your prospect/customer, the better you’ll be at targeting your messages to them.

So, as you look at your current marketing messages, are you addressing a wide variety of dissatisfaction factors for all kinds of different buyers? Or are you only using the ones that motivate you?

Anyway you add it up, if you want to succeed in business rapidly, you have to focus your sales and marketing messages on dissatisfaction. When you connect with that, then you can sell what you’re offering as the solution to that pain. But if you try to sell what you’re selling without connecting and amplifying that dissatisfaction—you’re simply making an unwise decision.

Never ever forget that if you want to grow your business fast, dissatisfaction matters!

To your accelerated success!