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Have you ever asked yourself, what the hell is a customer pain point?

A while ago, I was talking with an editor friend of mine. She had attended a webinar on marketing, where the host was giving advice on how to market to pain points. She kept using the phrase pain point like it was a thing. I had a pretty good idea of what I thought it was. I very much dislike overly used jargony words, because when people use them — it doesn’t make for clear communication or clear thinking. So I jumped into the rabbit hole to see what I’d find.

I came across an article posted on It was one of the first articles that I came across. This article talked more about how to find pain points than what it is. You can infer from the article that it’s a problem that the company (or person) you’re trying to sell has that you can solve. Okay, cool. The article suggested that you use an example company who had a problem similar to what you think that the company (read also person) has and then explain what the solution was.

When I was getting my MA in clinical psychology, we called this the hip-pocket patient. In a situation where the patient (or client if you prefer nomenclature) has a problem (eg., depression, addition, …) and you can see that they are hesitant to talk about you, you bring out your hip-pocket patient. You talk about the problem that they had, and how you were able to help them solve the problem. In this situation, the hesitancy is usually because of shame for having the problem. Bringing up the hip-pocket patient allows the therapist to help the patient feel like they aren’t weird for having the problem. I mean if someone had some horrible things happen to them in their life, it’s completely normal to get depressed about it, but you’d be surprised how many people feel weak or shameful about having a normal reaction. But that’s doesn’t address the what the hell is a pain point.

Back to the advice from the article on how to sell based on pain points. In the situation of a sales meeting, you don’t want to come in guns blazing and say, hey I have a great service or product for you that will solve your problem … when you don’t know what the client’s problem is. Nobody likes to have assumptions made about them. The idea is that you have to get the client or customer to tell you what their problem is — I surmised from the above mentioned article.

But. But. But. Here’s the caveat. You can’t just say, hey, tell me what your problem is. According to the (again) aforementioned article, your customers or clients aren’t going to want to do your work for you. You’ve got to work for it. So you bring out a previous customer that had a similar problem and tell the potential customer/client how you solved the similar problem. Yay. That’s a great sales technique. But it doesn’t really tell you what a damn pain point is other that saying, it’s a problem that someone has.

So is that really all there is to this overly used jargony word? Well, yeah, as it turns out. I came across this blog post on In the first sentence of the blog post, they defined what a pain point is. It’s a problem that your potential client/customer has that you can solve.

End of rabbit hole dive report.


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