Are You Creating Destructive or Constructive Discomfort?

Are you creating destructive discomfort or constructive discomfort during your sales conversations? Are you pushing your product or service or are you helping your prospect solve a problem to move their business forward? Are you trying to make a sale to meet your quota or are you trying to gain a client for life? Does the prospect have that feeling in their gut that he/she wants to end the conversation or continue it?

Some sales people are still selfish and are only concerned with making a sale. They don’t take the time to make an emotional connection with the prospect to understand their underlying problem or pain point, creating that sense of constructive discomfort in the prospect’s gut. The sense of urgency a buyer gets to move the sales conversation forward and take action – so he/she can sleep better at night.

Case in point, I had a problem that I was struggling with for some time, and someone happened to reach out to a close colleague of mine that knew of my need. I trust and value this person’s opinion. She recommended I speak to him because she thought he had a system that would help solve my problem. She even provided a valid argument on why I should have the conversation.

The sales person was off to a great start by making a connection with a person I know and whose opinion I value. As a matter of fact, simply from her recommendation alone, I was beginning to get that tiny feeling in my gut that someone might have a solution to my problem.   Typically, I won’t waste my time, or a salesperson’s time, if I don’t think he/she has a solution to my problem.

We scheduled a brief conversation, and he asked great open-ended questions about my needs, current situation, and what success looked like for me. I provided some basic information to see if he had something of value, and he did! I didn’t provide all the information since I did not want to show all my cards. He scheduled the demonstration, and confirmed what I wanted to get out of it. Not a bad start.

During the demonstration, he started out strong, recapped our previous conversation and key points, asked what else I hoped to get out of the demonstration, showed me how the system might help me, and how he helped other clients with similar problems. He set the table to this point very nicely.

The feeling in my gut grew stronger! He was beginning to create constructive discomfort that I needed to take action – I wanted to share more detail with him about my specific problem, the challenges I face, how his system would help me, and the results I expected. I wanted him to gather the additional information and come back to me with data to prove it would work. But instead of asking additional questions about my specific needs and continuing the sales conversation, he went for the hard close, when we were just beginning with the appetizer. He asked if I wanted to pilot the system, and if I wanted him to generate a quote – instead of confirming or clarifying my needs, and showing me how he would help solve my specific problem. That my friends, is what I call destructive discomfort!

I quickly lost that feeling in my gut, and felt that he was more interested in making a sale then helping me solve my problem. He had begun to create that constructive discomfort, but he decided at that point it was more important to make a sale.

What type of feeling are you creating during your sales conversation? Are you building constructive discomfort that creates a sense of urgency to move the sales conversation forward, to get the prospect to take action, and to gain a client for life? Or, are you creating destructive discomfort that ends the sales conversation?


Ken Smith is currently Director of Training and Development at Canon Business Process Services, Inc.   Ken is passionate about identifying, developing and leveraging talent to grow the business.  He is responsible for designing, planning and implementing training programs for sales, operations and corporate employees.  You can connect with Ken on Linkedin and Twitter, or send an e-Mail to him at


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