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5 Step Sales Discovery Process to Optimize your Sales Team

sales discovery process

The sales discovery process helps you gather the information to close a sale. It includes researching a prospect, building trust and rapport, understanding their pain points, and painting a clear picture of the problem solved. 

But many sales reps mistakenly use the discovery call to promote a product’s features instead of learning about the prospect.

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Let’s discuss the sales discovery process that you can use to optimize your sales team.

What is sales discovery?

Sales discovery is the first step for the sales rep to connect and learn about their prospect. In this phase, they research, ask questions, answer their prospects’ questions, and unearth helpful information about them. 

It helps the sales rep to determine whether the prospects qualify as serious buyers. They can then move them down the sales funnel. 

The steps for the sales discovery process

During the sales discovery process, the reps need to research and tailor their questions to the prospects. 

Let’s discuss the steps;

1. Have an up-front strategy and role play

Before making the discovery call, the sales reps should research and know their prospects. 

The best approach is to explore the prospects on social media like Linked In, Twitter, or Facebook. 

The team can:

  • Go through their profiles and understand their career aspirations
  • Check if they have any history with your organization
  • Check if any employee has shown interest in your product.

Then, go through their organization pages to have a glimpse of what they do. They can also rely on Google searches and news to gather more information. 

Once the team has all the information, each rep should ask the following;

  • What questions is the prospect likely to ask?
  • What challenges are they facing in their business? 
  • Do you have examples of your work (or success stories) in case they want to know?

Then the team can role-play to understand the probable situations. You can have a coach to help the team through this. 

2. Ask provocative questions and listen

Thought-provoking questions help the sales reps learn about the prospect’s challenges, how they plan to tackle them, and what it’d take to convince them to adopt your product. 

For instance, let’s say your prospect is struggling with change management in their organization. What specific challenges are they facing? What solutions have they tried? 

Rather than selling your solution, the sales rep should aim for a meeting of minds. 

So, the rep should guide the prospect to analyze their problem and ‘discover’ the solution by offering their industry knowledge and relevant research. 

The most important part for the sales rep is listening to the prospect, following their thought process, and offering valuable insight.

When Gong analyzed sales calls, they found that most of the top sales performers’ talk-to-listen ratio was 43:57. That means they listen more and leave the prospects to do the talking.   

3. Use storytelling tactics

After your sales rep and the prospect are on common ground, the rep can bring in a story. A story grabs the prospect’s attention and makes them relate to your product experientially. 

To get it right, the sales rep can give an example of a challenge that a different organization faced and solved with your solution. But to make their point valid, they can present testimonials and case studies. 

For example,

“When I was working with a certain client, he claimed that his sales team spent only a third of their time selling, and it largely affected his business. But when we trained his team on the importance of selling, they improved by 80 percent and started making sales.”

Follow that with a leading question asking them if they want to overcome the challenges. And if not yet, what would make them want to overcome the challenge?

4. Establish the next steps 

To close the deal successfully, the sales rep will summarize your product’s value in the prospect’s organization (i.e., how does it help the prospect achieve their goals?).

They can approach this in two ways;

  • Emphasize how your product will help solve the challenges you have discovered through the call.
  • Help them agree that the product is necessary to help solve their problem. You can talk of a demo at this stage. 

These two closing processes will open up another date for a call. It will also bring in other stakeholders who are essential for the sales process.

5. Remember to record the discovery calls

It’s good to record your discovery calls to avoid losing important information and get ideas on how to improve your discovery process. Your team can use call recording software.

The recorded calls will help your team; 

  • Analyze the flow of the conversation. Did the rep use the right tone? How did they answer the questions? etc. 
  • Improve on your future discovery calls. Analyzing what worked and what didn’t helps the team know what to eliminate or add. 
  • Follow up with the prospects. Once they go through the recording, they’ll know whether to continue pursuing a prospect. 

The best sales discovery process questions

The sales team can tailor the questions into four subsections. Questions that set the stage, qualify, disqualify and establish the next steps. 

Examples of questions that set the stage;

When setting the stage, the sales rep takes time to know the prospect’s company. It helps them decide on whether to move forward. 

  • Tell me about the company.
  • Your role in the company
  • The metric you are responsible for. 

Questions that qualify

Qualifying questions help the rep figure out how to help the prospect. 

  • Tell me about your goals.
  • When do you need to achieve them?
  • What areas are you struggling in? 
  • What would success [in the problem area] look like?

Questions that disqualify a prospect

These questions will help you have a plan and budget.

  • When are you planning to implement a solution? 
  • What’s your budget?
  • Who’s responsible for paying? 

Questions that determine the next steps

  • Who else is involved in [solving the problem]? 
  • How can we help you improve [problem area]?
  • Would this be the first time you’re purchasing this product?
  • Can I call you again on [date & time]?

Discovery call checklist

A discovery call checklist is essential to help sales reps stay on track. The checklist can help sales reps make the right questions and close deals quickly. 

Here’s what it’d look like:

  • Research the prospect
  • Take time to build rapport and trust
  • Understand the prospect’s struggles
  • Show them how things would look like if they solved the problem 
  • Prove your credibility with a success story/testimonial
  • Identify the decision-makers in the prospect’s company
  • Get a follow-up meeting

That sums up the sales discovery process. But did you know that transparency could also optimize your sales process? Find out why it’s the emerging priorities for sales leadership in this post.

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