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How to Rethink The Discovery Call

  1. Prerequisite Preparation For a Discovery Call
  2. Two Questions to Help Begin Effective Discovery

B2B Sales Discovery Calls done-well can be the cornerstone for success in acquiring new clients.

A Discovery Call with a prospect should not be a scripted effort or an attempt to get answers to a list of questions to qualify the prospect.

Let’s assume there’s at least a moderate level of seriousness coming from a prospect that has accepted a discovery call. That same seriousness and intentionality apply to the salesperson in being prepared for the call.

Prerequisite Preparation for a Discovery Call

Pre-call planning is not a suggestion for a Discovery call, it’s an imperative. Here are the essential elements:

  • Develop an insider’s understanding of the prospect’s industry. A drive-by sense will not cut-it. If you sell only to one industry, understand the nuances of the internal and external factors that drive growth and profitability.
  • Your solutions solve customer business problems. Since you likely have customers similar to the prospect, you’ll want to shape a conversation to explore if they have similar issues and how they impact the business.
  • Develop a short and straightforward agenda that allows for at least 60% of the time for the prospect to talk.

Start With Two Questions:

1. Once introductions are complete and you’ve confirmed how much time is available, the first question you should ask is similar to this: “what prompted you to accept a discovery call with me?”

Suppose there are multiple individuals from the prospect company on the call. In that case, this will be your first opportunity to begin to understand who can articulate why there are investing time with you. If only one person answers on a multiple-person call, then you should attempt to ask the others if they would like to add anything to what the first person shared.

I’m sure you’ll be prepared to ask clarifying questions to demonstrate understanding.

Congratulations! You’ve started the call with the prospect talking. Don’t mess it up yet by talking about your company.

There are multiple ways the call goes after the first question. However, let’s assume for simplicity they told you they are facing business challenges your solutions can address. Good news!

The second question will allow you to demonstrate an understanding of their industry and its challenges. Let’s assume you (or your company) have a good bit of experience in their industry.

2. If appropriate, the second question you ask should be similar to this: “would you find value if I shared the top three initiatives we see companies like yours embarking upon to grow top-line revenue.”

Hint: Don’t ask this question unless you know what the top three initiatives are or cannot tell a compelling story around them.

Take our firm, for example. Here are the top three initiatives we see companies embarking upon to drive top-line revenue growth (not in a particular order, and not all companies are embarking on all three):

1. Account Planning – developing account planning tools, process and motions are vital to selling more to existing customers.

2. Inside Sales – The pandemic proved that most companies could sell without being physically in front of a prospect. This trend has been growing for years, and the pandemic has accelerated it.

3. Lead Management & Marketing Optimization – most companies recognize that salespeople are not following up on the volume of leads marketing provides and that marketing struggles to demonstrate marketing ROI

There is a compelling story for each of the initiatives outlined above. Prospects often engage with ideas about one or more of the initiatives I’ve shared and ask questions to know more.

The two questions I recommend are best suited for complex B2B selling. My experience is that a prospect will have talked at least 50% or more of the time during the first 20 minutes when I use the two questions.

As the discovery call continues, the prospect is highly engaged, and the outcomes are usually positive, even if they may not be an immediate fit for our solutions.

A final note – rethinking the Discovery Call requires well-developed listening and communications skills and patience during the call. Getting answers to qualifying questions will be much easier once a prospect has talked for most of the call.

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