How To Use The 5 Whys For Customer Pain Point Analysis

Written by Josh Dhaliwal
on November 23, 2017

customer pain point analysis

In a previous post, we mentioned the 5 Whys technique and how it can help you identify the root cause of a lack of motivation amongst your staff. In fact, you can use it to get to the bottom of most problems – so why not use it to help identify your customer’s true pain points? We’ve done just that with our customers, and the following is just one (stripped back) example of how 5 Whys led both the salesperson and the customer to understand why they would benefit from a Sales Enablement tool.

iPresent: Why do you think you’re struggling to get your sales collateral in front of customers?

Customer: It’s the sales team. They don’t use the content we’ve created for them. They make their own.

iPresent: Why do they make their own content?

Customer: They don’t know where to find the ready-made content.

iPresent: Why don’t they know where to find it?

Customer: It’s just not on their radar. They’re focused on selling and we’re focused on creating content. I guess we’re not very good at communicating.

iPresent: Why do you think that is?

Customer: I think sales feel that they’re responsible for signing deals and marketing feels responsible for making deals possible, but we work in such different ways that we end up butting heads more than we work together. There’s not a lot of cross-communication between departments.


Root cause analysis

You may recognize these pain points – certainly the disconnect between sales and marketing is one of the main reasons we see customers investing in a Sales Enablement tool. But looking at the technique itself, notice how the repeated use of the ‘why’ not only helps the seller understand the problem, but also makes the customer focus in on the root cause of the problem. In this case, misalignment between sales and marketing is ultimately preventing customers from seeing valuable sales collateral that could make the difference between a deal or no deal.


Leveraging additional insights

Along the way, the 5 whys has also highlighted another problem: the sales team doesn’t know where the collateral is stored. When we come to pitch our product, that’s an insight we can leverage to show all the ways in which our Sales Enablement Platform could help solve the problems the customer has identified. In the course of the wider conversation, which would naturally consist of more than the brief example recorded above, many other insights would likely be gained, including the emotional burden of the problem, which could be further leverage when making your pitch. For example, how does it make the customer feel to know that there is this disconnect between the two departments? What kind of added pressure does that bring to their day? And what is the fallout from a salesperson creating their own content? Is it on-brand? Is it accurate?


Use 5 Whys among other techniques (but always dig deeper)

Of course, this is not the only technique for customer pain point analysis, nor should you limit yourself to 5 (though anyone with experience of small children knows how annoying it is to repeatedly be asked ‘why’, so watch yourself!). You can carry out a lot of research prior to a meeting that will prepare you with some explanation as to why the customer has agreed to sit down with you (i.e. the gap in their business they hope you can fill). You may also find your own technique for encouraging customers to open up about their challenges – some people build trust by offering friendship as much as expertise.

The value of this technique, however, is that the first answer – which could be where the customer perceives the problem to lie – is not always the best, fullest or even most truthful answer. Going back to our example above, for instance, you could be forgiven for thinking that the problem this customer has is belligerent salespeople who think they know best. Dig a little deeper, however, and the truth becomes apparent. The salespeople aren’t being given the opportunity to engage with the material they’re meant to be delivering; therefore they don’t value it, they don’t look for it and they don’t use it. It’s not belligerence; it’s a lack of communication. They need a tool that can bridge the divide between departments – and that’s how we would pitch our solution to this customer.


Have you used the 5 Whys with your customers? We’d love to hear your experiences.



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