Few things annoy me more than a toilet making a constant hissing noise.

I’m not handy, so whenever I hear the hiss, I call Bruce, my handyman, to fix it the next day.

However, there are other problems I haven’t done anything about.

One of my sprinklers is dripping water.

It’s a problem, but it doesn’t have the same energy or “oomph” as the hissing toilet, so I’m not going to do anything about it.

There’s a good lesson here.

People only take action when problems are intense enough to overcome their tendency to do nothing (inertia).

If you’re Bruce, the handyman, the sale is easy. (Inbound)

But what if you sell sprinklers? (Outbound)

To get me to take action, you have to shine a light on a problem I might not be aware of that can hurt me.

You need to twist the knife.

That’s because people prefer avoiding losses to acquiring equivalent gains. It’s called loss aversion.

What’s the cost of inaction of my leaking sprinkler?

I’m overpaying for water every month because:

My sprinklers run between 1 am and 3 am every day.

I have other leaky sprinklers.

With this insight, if you’re a sprinkler salesperson, you can ‘poke the bear’ by asking this question in a cold email:

“How do you know you’re not overpaying your water bill every month due to leaky sprinklers?”

Um, I’m not sure. Better read the following sentence.

Illumination questions create curiosity because they create a gap between what you know and what you want to know.

It’s like a mental itch your brain wants to scratch.

Don’t ask about problems; find them.

Twist the knife.

Poke the bear.