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Let's Profit From People's Pain

December 4, 2008
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© Lee

Now that Thanksgiving is over, we have a few weeks before the Christmas spirit peaks and we have to be nice to people. Now is the perfect time to take advantage of people and make some easy money for your company.

Here’s how to do it:

“The secret to closing sales is to identify a person’s pain and offer a solution,” the sales guru said during the only sales course I ever took.

According to this guru, once you get people to admit their area of pain, their defenses crumble. Your goal is to keep them talking, opening up and sharing their pain. Before long, you’ve got a new sucker-er, I mean, client.

OK, I am being facetious.

In defense of the sales guru, the pain he referenced was supposedly along the lines of lousy phone service, slow computers or overpriced office supplies. But it could just as easily be roofing, plumbing, HVAC, flooring, granite, water delivery, cleaning, excavation, or any architectural, engineering or maintenance services.

When the sales guru said we should identify a person’s pain in order to sell them a product, I felt conflicted. It felt wrong. But upon reflection, this is nothing more than helping a person get to the point of telling you specifically what he or she needs and offering your services to meet those needs.

The A/E/C and maintenance industries do this every day. You provide services that reduce the work pain that a person or company is enduring. And you do it extremely well.

But what about closing a sale based on someone’s personal pain, such as the destruction of his or her home via fire, flood or storm? These are perilous times. Many people are unemployed, uninsured or out of savings.

Is it OK to profit from their pain? If not, why not?

Shouldn’t construction pros seek this disaster-related work, maybe even specialize in it? With construction suffering, such disaster work might just save your company.

This topic came to mind as the California wildfires raged, displacing thousands, destroying nearly 1,000 residences, and severely damaging hundreds more homes. These fires are both personal disaster and business opportunity rolled into one.

Add to fires the litany of similar disasters like hurricanes, floods, tornados, sewage backups and water intrusion/mold and you have the makings of a full-time business.

I don’t know anyone who specializes in disaster reconstruction. But clearly this type of work provides the opportunity to help people in their time of need. Rather than the greedy charlatans I described in the opener of this blog, I suspect these specialists often become heroes to those they serve.

I work for BNP Media, which recently launched a magazine called Restoration & Remediation for construction pros specializing in such work. Did we discover an under-served market, or are we blood-sucking opportunists? I’m trusting it’s not the latter.

If you’d like more information on the disaster services field, go to You should also visit, a conference and trade show designed for the disaster repair, reconstruction, remediation and restoration fields, scheduled for June 16-17 in New Orleans.
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