An in-depth understanding of Pain – which means simply “the gap between where you are now and where you want to be” — not only helps you to sell better, it also helps you become more effective at buying. In fact, it can help you in all aspects of your relationships with other human beings. Let me share something that really happened to me that will illustrate exactly what I mean.
Early on in my career as a sales trainer, I was in the market for a Harley Davidson motorcycle, but I wanted to buy one on the cheap. So instead of responding to advertisements where I would need to compete with other buyers, I used word of mouth to get what I wanted. Soon enough, my brother, Dan, connected me with a friend of an acquaintance who had a Harley for sale.
I called the seller, whom I’ll call Moose, and set a time to meet him.
Moose directed me to a not-so-great section of Brockton, Massachusetts, a tough working-class town. I remember pulling up to a dilapidated three-decker house and parking on the street. It was an overcast, clammy day. Hot. I approached the house, pushed the button on the door frame, and heard nothing. Since the doorbell had failed to work, I rapped on the screen door frame.
A large, intimidating man, at least 6’6″ and 350 pounds, filled the doorway. He had big eyes and big, unkempt hair. His arms were covered in jailhouse tats. He looked mean.
After a brief greeting, he pointed to my car and said, “We’re gonna go for a ride.” I hesitated but – remembering my desire to get a good deal on a Harley — welcomed this hulk into my car.
He directed me to a two-car garage in an even worse section of town filled with boarded-up houses and too many broken windows to count. He unlocked one of the garage doors, threw up the door, and revealed… my dream come true.
It was a custom Harley Davidson with an absolutely gorgeous paint job by Dave Perewitz, a top-ten custom bike builder. (Go ahead, Google him. You’ll see why I wanted this bike.)
After Moose recited all the features and benefits of the Harley, he said he was asking $10,500.00. (That was about what it would go for on the open market.) This is when the real negotiating started.
Moose and I spent 45 minutes going back and forth. I won’t get into all the details, but I will tell you this: I uncovered a lot of pain.
Specifically: I uncovered that Moose used to be in a motorcycle gang… and that gang wanted to kill him.
He insisted it was for something he didn’t do. Since they were looking for him, though, he couldn’t advertise the bike, for fear gang members might spot the ad, recognize the bike, find him.
Moose’s girlfriend was in the Framingham Women’s Penitentiary, but she was getting out at the end of the month. He needed to sell quickly so he and his girlfriend could leave Massachusetts and move to Florida by the end of the month. And so he wouldn’t have to spend any more days than absolutely necessary risking being murdered.
After uncovering all this pain — from a very intimidating individual — I ended up buying the bike for just $6,000.00-more than 40% percent less than the market value. Here’s what I want you to notice: By sharing his pain, which is a deep-seated emotional need to make a change, Moose became emotionally involved. He effectively “relived” his pain by sharing it with me… and eventually his emotions compelled him to reduce the price and take “a deal in hand” rather than risk no deal at all. He even threw in two helmets for free.
This happened in 1994. I never heard from Moose again or saw anything in the news about him. I assume he left for Florida in one piece, with his lady and plenty of traveling money. I saved over 40% and got a great Harley, and Moose got away with his life! It was a good and honorable deal for both of us.