Mastering the Discovery Call
The first call that you have with a prospective customer is often referred to as a discovery call. This is an excellent opportunity for you to gather the information you need to find out if this prospect qualifies to be your customer or not.
Learn to fail fast
I love the “fail fast” phrase for thinking about discovery calls because…
- You don't want to spend time pursuing leads that are not going to turn into sales, and,
- You also don’t want to sell clients on your solution that are not a real fit. Onboarding clients who aren’t a true fit just welcomes reputational risk and churn.
Start by setting the agenda for your call. First, you want to introduce yourself as an individual (your background and role at the company), then give a high-level overview of your product or service. From there, the potential customer should do most of the talking. Your role is question asker and listener!
If they appear to be a qualified prospect, make sure to communicate the next steps in the process clearly, and if you can, get the next call scheduled in real-time. You never want to leave a call with a qualified prospect without a clear and mutually understood path forward.
Every call has value
If they do not qualify or are uninterested, all is not lost! I consider every sales call a valuable exercise to…
- Educate more people. You want them to leave the call knowing exactly what you do and who you do it for (your solution, value proposition, and Ideal Customer Profile). When the person is educated, it creates the possibility that they may contact you again when they are a fit or if they become interested OR that they will recommend you to others in their network who are.
- Document the outcome. You also want to memorialize why they were not a fit or were not interested in your CRM. Perhaps they aren’t a fit now because of their employee count, but they will grow. Perhaps this isn’t a good time for them, but they review this type of thing every October. Document and monitor.
How to Qualify a Prospect
As mentioned above, you don’t want to spend time on low probability leads when that time and energy could be invested into qualified leads. So, how do you tell if a lead qualifies or not? The simplest way to establish their qualification is to ask a series of open-ended, leading questions.
The acronym BANT, which stands for budget, authority, need, and timeline, in that order, is a simple but effective strategy to determine the qualification of a prospect. Below are some example questions to help you assess their BANT score.
Ask the prospect some open-ended questions to find out which price range they fall into and if they can afford your product or service.
- What is their budget?
- Do they pay for another solution today (a cost offset to change)? Or is this a new cost for their company altogether?
- How do they evaluate costs relative to Return on Investment (ROI) internally?
Next, you’ll need to find out if the person that you’re speaking to has purchasing or decision-making authority. If they don’t, who does? Who else influences the purchasing outcome?
People buy solutions for a pain point, or a discrete need more than they buy a ‘nice to have’. They often buy to save money, move faster, or to get data to make more informed decisions. Focus on understanding the underlying problem the prospect has. What are their needs? When did these needs become apparent? What do they do now? Do they have another solution that isn’t working? Or are they doing without?
Find a way to connect with them on a personal level about their pain or need. How does this need affect them or the company in their daily lives? When you can understand and empathize with their emotions, you make it about it more than a transaction which helps you build trust.
Finally, ask a few leading questions to uncover a possible timeline for purchase. Are they just exploring this passively, or is there an impending deadline?
I’ve given a few simple and effective question examples above, but don’t be afraid to get creative.
The importance of fast follow up
After a discovery call, you should always follow up with information about your product or service.
- If they are qualified, you want to provide the person you spoke with the knowledge and vocabulary necessary to explain your product or service to their colleagues or leadership in a clear and concise way. Make their life easier. There is almost always more than one person, if not more than 5, involved in a B2B buying decision.
- If they aren’t qualified, they may be later or know someone who is now. Give them the tools to amplify your message.
A few additional tips
There are a few additional best practices for a successful discovery call...
- Don’t feature dump. Keep the conversation high level, to begin with, and layer in additional details in each subsequent call. There is quite a bit of research that suggests more touches or sales activities lead to more closed deals as well.
- Do your research prior to all calls. Review the company website as well as the individual's LinkedIn and other social platforms to gather as much information on their sophistication and background as you can. Use this to adjust your style accordingly.
- Time kills all deals! Always try to confirm your next meeting on the first meeting and send your follow-up within 24 hrs to keep momentum.
There you have it, an intro to mastering discovery calls! Educate, probe, qualify, and nurture. It can be rather intimidating initiating a discovery call, no matter how long you’ve been doing it. Be prepared, confident, authentic, and curious and you’ll be a discovery call whiz before you know it!
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