Opportunities are won and lost on discovery. The ability to ask great questions in the discovery phase is one of the most critical abilities for successful salespeople. The greater your depth of awareness of the prospect's problem, the better equipped you are to sell a high-value solution to match.
Still many salespeople struggle with getting prospects to truly reveal negative consequences and challenges with significant business impact. We've pulled together some of our best practices for executing a great discovery process:
Focus On The Customer, Not Your Solutions
A shift in attitude or focus during discovery can produce major benefits to your sales process. Emphasize rapport and trust-building during this initial phase. Doing so helps you guard against a natural inclination to transition into selling too quickly.
Multiple decision-makers and long sales processes are the norm in many B2B industries. You need to have a compelling reason to move to action, which means you don't want to rush discovery. In fact, many buyers will expect you to push your solution right away. When you make conversation, ask questions to understand high-level needs and demonstrate empathy, you motivate a prospect to want to meet again to learn how your company and solutions align.
Dig Deeper with Probing Questions
Good salespeople ask investigative questions to uncover pain points and needs with true business impact. They also understand the basic value of listening to a prospect's responses. However, a truly effective discovery process means digging deeper with insightful open-ended questions.
Many reps accept simple answers to questions and launch right into features and functions without digging deeper. You don't want to offer up a remedy or solution without getting a full scan of the prospect's pain. Keep asking questions until you get there. Otherwise you'll find yourself in the later stages of the deal without a compelling reason for them to buy your services or, you'll be forced to negotiate on price.
Use Discovery to Build Competitive Advantage
One of the best ways to differentiate the value of your solution from competitor offerings is to build that differentiation into the customer's requirements. Trap-setting questions can be used in your discovery process as a way to bolster your own differentiators, and show the weaknesses of your competitors.
For example, "When you've tried to implement solutions like this in the past, what limitations have you found in other programs that have impeded results?" This type of question could get the prospect to share key requirements for the next purchase. Those requirements may be the things you offer and the things your competitors don't. Effective discovery sets the stage for a productive sales cycle that ends with a closed-won opportunity. Don't leave it to chance.