10 Questions to Get at Customer Pain Points

10 Questions to Understand Customer Pain Points

What if, God forbid, you went to the ER complaining of chest pains and the ER doc said she’ll be right back after she gloves up for open heart surgery. Ridiculous analogy I know but that’s the sort of thing many tech companies routinely do. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at three examples from leading companies. All go right to the solution without clarifying exactly what problem they solve, except maybe in the broadest possible terms.

  • “FireEye cyber security products protect against cyber attacks that bypass traditional signature-based tools such as antivirus software, next-generation firewalls, and sandbox tools.”
  • “Splunk Enterprise makes it simple to collect, analyze and act upon the untapped value of the big data generated by your technology infrastructure, security systems and business applications—giving you the insights to drive operational performance and business results.”
  • “By providing a modern EMM solution that meets both user demands and IT security requirements, MobileIron enables today’s large enterprises to become truly Mobile First.”

Of course, these companies are all best of breed players but wouldn’t you agree there’s room for improvement on the messaging here?

At Aventi Group, we go to great pains (sorry) to challenge our clients’ understanding of their customers’ pain points. After all, how can you hone a value proposition unless you clearly and compellingly express the problem statement? We encourage our clients to conduct primary research on their wins, losses, and prospects in order to get at the visceral pain points. We group the interview questions in three buckets – logical, emotional and political. Unless you address all three dimensions, you won’t have a solution that overcomes inhibitors that trip up the sales process.

Here are the types of questions we recommend you ask your interviewees. And it’s best to do this in person or via video so you can watch the body language and facial expressions of your interviewees.

Logical pain point questions

  • What is the issue you have with the current way of doing things? Why is that a problem?
  • How does the current approach impact the business at large—customers, sales, partners, and financials?
  • What options have you considered in addressing this “pain point?”
  • What if there was a solution to this pain point? What benefits might you see?

Emotional pain point questions

  • What feelings come to mind as you think about your current state?
  • What feelings come to mind as you consider the possibility of a great solution to this pain point?
  • What would be the personal win if you were to implement a solution to this challenge?

Political pain point questions 

  • Which folks in the organization are most affected by this pain point? Why?
  • Why not consider “doing nothing” meaning keeping to the current situation as is?
  • What has stood in the way of finding a solution to this issue?

What does a well-defined customer pain point look like?

And in case you’re wondering what a well-defined customer pain point looks like, check out Exabeam [recent client of ours]:

  • Our security operations staff is already stretched thin. How do we streamline cloud services incidents investigation?
  • Instead of buying a whole new CASB system, how can we leverage our existing security systems and operations?
  • Exabeam reduces cloud services risks and speeds up incident response by working with your existing Security Operation and SIEM systems.

See how we use the first two questions to zero in on the pain point (streamlining incident investigation) while neutralizing one of the major objections (not obsoleting sunk investments in SIEM)? Let us know how you approach customer pain point definition and value proposition crafting.

Interested in better understanding your customers’ pain points? Don’t miss the Complete Guide and  Contact Aventi Group for a discovery call.

Written By

Sridhar Ramanathan

Sridhar Ramanathan has 20+ years of experience in technology companies – from startups to blue chip firms. As the Marketing executive for Hewlett-Packard’s Managed Services business, he was responsible for marketing worldwide and managing the portfolio of HP services’ $1.1B unit. He also held profit & loss responsibility for electronic messaging outsourcing and e-service business units. Thanks to Sridhar’s efforts, HP became the #1 ERP Outsourcer and experienced growth in the data warehouse market, now well over a $1B revenue stream. Sridhar has played interim executive roles for a number of technology firms, leading their sales and marketing functions in the high growth phase. Sridhar holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business and a BS in Engineering Physics from U.C. Berkeley. He is active in non-profit work as Vice Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, an organization that provides stability and hope to abused and neglected children.