The discovery call sets the trajectory of your deal and will determine how you’ll do everything else in the sales process. A discovery call’s purpose is to determine whether or not you and your buyer are a good fit for each other and to understand your buyer’s pain points, priorities, and goals so you can effectively sell to them. It’s the most important conversation in the sales process. If you do it right, you’ll be able to establish an authoritative relationship with your buyer.
How to conduct an effective discovery call?
Step 1: Plan your discovery call
Discovery calls require work before you even pick up the phone. You don’t want to be that person on the phone asking things you could’ve found out on the Internet. Pre-call research provides you with the ammo you need to ask detailed, situational questions that will reveal exactly what’s happening in your prospect’s world. Before your sales discovery call, work with a coach (a manager), and run through questions you aim to ask. Practice responses you are likely to give based on assumed objections. Without practicing and rehearsing, you’re not improving or preparing in the right way.
Step 2: Record your discovery call
Recording your discovery calls is highly recommended. For a call that may last in excess of thirty minutes, there is no way that any human can remember every single detail and intrigue areas from their call. Furthermore, scribbling down illegible notes can sometimes throw up more confusion than intended when re-visiting them a few days later. Recording your calls provides the perfect opportunity to capture/re-visit every single word, point, and emotion in a discovery conversation.
Step 3: Set the agenda & qualify
Too often sales reps jump straight into their discovery call with an interrogation of questions that the prospect wasn’t expecting and they immediately start off on the wrong footing. Furthermore, there’s a lack of understanding from the prospect about the whole objective of the call, and what happens at the end.
Starting off with an agenda for the call along with some objectives, is the perfect way to both manage expectations of the prospect and get them bought into your sales process, but also, to help you take control of the conversation. Your goal in this stage is to qualify whether you and your buyer have a mutual fit.
Step 4: Ask Questions.
Discovery is ultimately split between asking questions and listening. Relevant and meaningful questions are key to the success of finding out more about the prospect’s situation. Once you’ve identified your buyer’s issues, figure out how serious they are. And if they’re not serious, make them be. Even if your prospect is unaware that they have a problem, you should still ask questions that surface their key priorities, and questions that highlight common places your solution adds value.
To make the customer eager for a solution to their problems, ask questions like:
- How much money are you wasting due to X problem?
- How is X impacting the rest of your team?
- How many opportunities have you missed as a result of this problem?
Step 5: Be a storyteller and build a vision.
Customers don’t want to make decisions based on what you think is right or wrong. They want to hear how similar people and personas have shared similar challenges and experiences that they can resonate with. Telling the story of how you have helped solve the problem of a similar prospect in a similar situation will be far more compelling than just talking about products and features. The last stages of a discovery call should be to steer away from voicing frustrations and open up a discussion about the end result, a solution could deliver.
Step 6: Go for the close and schedule your next step.
At the end of the day, discovery calls should be thought of as a process, not an event. As the process comes to a close, leave things off by scheduling the next steps. This can be as easy as:
“Based on what you’ve told me, I recommend the next step is _________.”
If you play your cards right, it will likely be a product demo where you can mirror all of the priorities you raised during the discovery call.