I’ve often said that the old method of qualifying on need, budget, and authority is antiquated. In fact, I have professed (to anyone who would listen) that if we help our clients realize their pains and fears, they will find the money. I’ve often shared stories to illustrate the point, but this past week I personally experienced something that brought it all home.

A week before a speaking engagement in Chicago, I woke several times during the night with a pain in my tooth. I have never missed a speaking engagement for any reason. It is important to me to keep that track record. I know that my dentist’s office opens at 7:00 AM. At 6:50 AM, I called their office (wishful thinking).  Bad news… The recording said that my dentist was on vacation starting that very morning, and he would not be back for 10 days.  There is no way I could wait. The recording said that the office would be open at 8AM while he was on vacation.

I called at 7:55AM (still hoping).  The office manager asked me to describe the issue. She referred me to Dr. Walker, an endodontist. These guys do root canal procedures, and that’s about it. I called Dr. Walker’s office to learn that he was not in the office that day, but another endodontist could see me if I got there in the next 30 minutes.  I got in my car, and was on my way.

I knew nothing about the endodontist I was scheduled to see. He was a referral of a referral – I had a closer connection to Kevin Bacon. But, 30 minutes after making the call to the unknown surgeon, I was in his chair.  Guess what?  I didn’t ask for his background. I did not ask how much it would cost. I did not get three bids. I did not even ask what he was going to do. I was interested in one thing: Could he make the pain go away.

As it turns out, the tooth was cracked, and I needed a root canal – A procedure I hope to never replicate. Everything turned out perfectly, I was able to speak to the group in Chicago, and I saw my dentist when he returned to complete the procedure with a crown.

I can tell you that when I went to sleep the night before this ordeal began, I did not have a budget line-item of $3000 for dental work. But, with enough pain, the fear of losing a tooth, and the upcoming speaking obligation, I found the money. The pain was great enough that I did not shop around.  Rather, I used the first person who I had reason to believe could help solve my problem.

If we think about the situations where we have been successful with quick decisions from our clients, we can probably identify the pain that was the catalyst. My suggestion is not that you crack a tooth. But, if you invest time to help your client uncover their pains and fears, their budgets will follow.