IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

How to Use a ‘Pain Chain’ to Add Customer Value

Pain Chain to Add Customer Value

By Cheryl Salazar, The Partner Marketing Group


A ‘Pain Chain’ is a powerful visual map first introduced by Keith M. Eades in his book, The New Solution Selling: The Revolutionary Process That is Changing the Way People Sell. Software and technology providers can use the Pain Chain to help determine the source of pain for customers and discuss, with the right people, how to eliminate or mitigate its effects.


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How will a Pain Chain add customer value? 

As you go through this process with your customer, you’re likely to find that undesired results are simply a symptom of a larger problem a quick surface analysis won’t uncover. You have to dig deep beneath the symptomatic problem to uncover the root problem. Taking the time and energy to construct Pain Chains with your customers differentiates you from your competition since you’ll develop a full understanding of your customers’ business and the challenges of their environment.

When you invest in understanding customer needs and objectives during the sales cycle, a natural outcome will be an enhanced and trusted relationship with your customer.

By following the chain of pain throughout an organization, you:

  • Identify decision makers and stakeholders and link them to specific functions, processes and systems. You can show relationships and uncover their problems or concerns – the pains.
  • Determine the cause and impact of their pain.
  • Determine how each pain’s effect spreads through the organization and affects people beyond the original source.
  • Apply the value you’re selling to each link of the chain, and perhaps establish partnerships with other organizations that can help you build on your value proposition.

For most of your customers, you probably have a relationship with one or two of the people who use your solution. By building a Pain Chain, you are naturally forced to look at all potential touchpoints of your solution. You may realize you don’t have a complete picture or a good understanding of how your software or service solution resolves pain points of users upstream or downstream of your solution.

What does a Pain Chain look like?


By exposing the pain points upstream and downstream of the Controller/AP Clerk, you may realize additional opportunities to provide value-added/custom services to the CFO (or even the CEO), field workers and the IT Department. What’s even more important is that as people move to other companies, you mitigate the risk of being replaced by another technology company if you forge relationships throughout your client’s organization.

How can you use your Pain Chains to add value to your business?  

Once you construct Pain Chains for several clients, you will start to:

  • Realize you can design innovative experiences that will differentiate you.
  • Spot opportunities to add managed services, for example, you had not thought of before.
  • Expose ways you could partner with other technology service providers who offer complementary solutions.
  • Engage your ENTIRE company, and reimagine your brand, to put the focus on your customers and embed your organization in their day-to-day operations.
  • Improve client satisfaction, which opens the door for more referrals and references.

Pain Chains play an important role in gaining a deeper understanding of your customers and how you can identify and solve their pains. Make it a part of your sales and service processes to build sustainable and meaningful relationships.

The post How to Use a ‘Pain Chain’ to Add Customer Value appeared first on The Partner Marketing Group.


About the Author

Cheryl Salazar's picture

With 26 years of experience in B2B marketing, including 16 years as a Senior Marketing Manager for Great Plains Software and Microsoft, I've had the pleasure of developing numerous B2B marketing programs for reselling partners and ISVs as well as creating the distinguished Inner Circle recognition program. An accomplished speaker, I work closely with the world’s leading software publishers and hardware manufacturers such as Microsoft, Intacct, Sage, and Intel, as well as a variety of VAR and ISV organizations.

Much of my work with Microsoft was partner-facing so when I left in 2005, it was a natural transition to The Partner Channel to provide strategic marketing consulting. In 2008, it seemed the perfect time to start my own firm, The Partner Marketing Group, where I could build a marketing 'dream team' designed to serve technology companies with the depth of experience and results they deserved.

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