Often sales professionals get so caught up in the excitement of booking the meeting and ‘pitching’ their product they fail to truly translate value to the client in the initial meetings.
- Sales pitch should whet the excitement of the prospect’s curiosity about your product, but if a salesperson relies solely on product pitching the conversations will fall flat. Product knowledge and pitching is key but it has to be strategic
- Example: A bank is concerned about security and reaches out to your company. You spend the entire meeting listing all the features and security measures without asking – why they are concerned about security. It becomes information overload from over pitching. All sales people have done it (I have), and fortunately it is an easy fix with well-executed discovery
One thing every sales person can improve and control is discovery. Asking the right qualifying questions to connect with your client and how your product aligns with their needs is crucial. Many of the questions in the discovery process are not tied specifically to your product – they are transferable questions that get to the root of the client and their needs – so you can properly pitch product.
Different companies use various sales methodologies for discovery (BANT, MEDDICC, TED, BNAPR) – each of these methods all work to gather key information: Who, What, Why and How can we help the client with our product?
I love exploring discovery and am constantly working to improve. I think a well rounded salesperson uses multiple methodologies depending on the use case/client/line size. Over the next several weeks we are embarking on a discovery on quality investigation/discovery. I am going to focus on how you can improve your customer conversations and help drive your sales forward based on industry best practices and my field experience.
The heart of sales success is authenticity. Authentic sales leans into honest and meaningful conversations. Success in sales is not browbeating or manipulating a client into purchase – that might net new logos, but retention and loyalty will suffer. Sales success comes from actively listening to your customer needs and being about to have a genuine conversation with them, using your product knowledge to consult them on their journey. Authentic sales allows you to shine through with your unique personality because you genuinely want to learn and discuss the client’s business and are able to take that information and guide them to the solution as a partner. This rapport is not forced or fake (bro down to make them like you) – it means just be yourself and listen to their needs. We’ll dig into this throughout the blog – but remember quality conversations rely not on robotic q and a – but thoughtful engagement. That authenticity will shine through and reduce burn out – because you’ll find you are not ‘selling’ but truly passionate about your product and clients. That leads to success. That success starts with discovery.
As a kid, I used to pretend I was Indiana Jones – roaming around my neighborhood park on an expedition to discover unknown relics. Now that I’m a sales professional I joke that sales is like archaeology – you dig through a lot of dirt, inhale dust and get lots of rejections before getting to gold.
To stay sane in sales remember to keep it fun. Imagine you are Dr. Jones on a mission to save your prospect from all sorts of bad actors. Or whatever gets you motivated. Remember your why – your product has value – you can help improve the day to day for your clients.
I visited Jamestown several years ago (right before COVID) and learned about the painstaking process one excavation site goes through to ensure the history is preserved and discovery is made. If you were to just to dig up all the dirt immediately – tearing up the earth – then you could damage the history and the artifact you are searching for.
Discovery is NOT a sales and product feature pitch. Discovery IS a conversation to ‘discover’ more about your clients current state, goals, desired state and position how your product can meet their needs through ROI and quantifiable metrics.
- Example: A CPA needs e-signature and you sell it. You can show them how it works – but need to understand why they need it (8879s for instance); how are they doing it now (paper based/email and scan); and show how your solution can help meet their metric (ex: you don’t have to spend an hour at lunch printing out forms and mailing them to clients to sign – time savings)
Discovery needs to be focused and flexible:
- You need to research your client prior to the call (as discussed in cold calling blogpost). Use the tools at your disposal (Google, Zoom Info, LinkedIn) to understand what their business does, the prospects role at the company and any interesting news about the company. Did they just expand locations? Do they donate their time in the community?
- Set an agenda – let the client know that you are going to use the meeting to understand more about their company and how we can help. This agenda does not need to be rigid -discovery is having a conversation and let it be fluid – but directed
- Fluid and directed conversation: Let clients know you are not wanting to interrogate them but you have some specific questions to ask to ensure your understand their needs and can provide the more relevant information. It is okay to ask a set list of questions in discovery – there are ‘must ask questions’ like budget and timeline. Just back that up with meaningful discussion so you have a genuine conversation.
- Active Listening – listen to understand – not to respond. Clients say so much when they start talking about their business – listen to these conversational clues to understand what they really need.
Discovery Questions 101:
We will continue to focus on ‘Discovery Methods’ like BANT, TED, etc…in future posts, but I wanted to share the questions I always incorporate on calls.
- Tell me about your company – Clients love to talk about their business – let them and listen for clues on ways you can help their department and the company as a whole. Actively LISTEN
- Tell me about your role – are they the decision maker? What is their role in this process? How can your product help them simplify their job
- What metrics are you responsible for – understanding what they care about and how we can help solve their problem
- Tell me about your company goals?
- What problems are you trying to solve?
- Tell me about your desired future state? If you had a magic wand how would you fix this problem?
- What is your timeline for implementation?
- What is your budget? Often clients will try to dodge this question – if they will not give you budget ask deeper questions about how budgets are approved and what they can pay for without budgetary approval.
- Who else is involved in the decision making process? What do they care about?
- What, if any, roadblocks do you see with implementing this by x-date?
What key questions do you ask?
Stay tuned to more discovery on Adele Lassiter Coaching!