We know discovery is a critical process in sales, and most salespeople have an idea of which questions they need to ask when they get in front of a prospect or have them on the phone.
Unfortunately, too many of us use our discovery questions as clubs in the conversation instead of levers. This results in us ‘clubbing’ our prospects with our questions in rapid-fire succession. While that may work in low-cost, high-volume sales, it’s the death knell of establishing a relationship or trust with a prospect.
Discovery can be done in a way that both affirms we’re speaking to the right person and that ensures we’re reconfirming interest, re-gauging commitment and uncovering any objections that may slow our sales cycle down.
To learn the fine art of systemizing all the levers we can bring into play in our discovery process, we sat down with Jeremy Pope, a clinical hypnotist who now coaches salespeople and teams in how to stand up great sales processes. He showed us how discovery isn’t a one-time event in a sale, but something that continue until even after the sale is made.
Since we’re trimming hope from our sales strategy, we’ll use the acronym TRIM to guide us through creating a system with a trigger, ensuring it’s repeatable, building in ways to improve it, and of course, ensuring it’s measurable and getting us results.
T – Trigger: When considering where to trigger a discovery process in a sales cycle, Jeremy says we should always be qualifying our prospects, so the trigger for this system is always active.
Because we’re responsible for serving our prospects no matter where they are in our sales process, Jeremy recommends we build ways to check in with our prospects during every touchpoint we have with them, from our first outreach attempt to after they become customers.
R – Repeatable: To make your discovery process repeatable, given that discovery occurs throughout the sales cycle, Jeremy says to first differentiate between external qualifiers like budget and buying window, and internal qualifiers, such as how they’re feeling about the product/service you’re discussing, or how your sales process is landing on them.
External qualifiers are critical to know you’re spending time with the right person, but once you’re sure of that, too many salespeople fail to establish a firm, trusting relationship or truly understand their prospect’s priorities and goals.
By far, the internal qualifiers are stronger indicators of how bought in they are to your sales process. While asking about a prospect’s feelings may seem strange or touchy-feely, it’s a great way to uncover unspoken objections, gauge true interest, and predict sale velocity.
This never sounds like ‘I’m just checking in,’, because those words don’t add value to your prospect. Instead, express an interest in the seemingly off-topic comments your prospect makes about their team, their organization, their goals, and their priorities.
I – Improvable: Jeremy says the best way to improve your ‘always be discovering’ process is to record your conversations and assess whether you’re following the discovery process you’ve defined ahead of time.
Surprisingly, salespeople will review their calls, admit they weren’t following the discovery process the team agreed to, and then blame their value proposition or how they phrase their offer.
The first thing to ensure is that if your discovery process requires you to re-confirm decision-making ability, buying timeline, budget and then explore internal qualifiers (for instance), that you’re doing it!
If you are off process, that’s the first thing to work on improving. If you’re on-process and discover that you’re not moving deals forward or getting ahead of unspoken objections, then you can work on your success stories, call objectives, or how you’re phrasing questions.
M – Measurable: To measure how well you’re qualifying prospects; Jeremy says to make sure what you’re tracking matters. The number of questions you ask, for instance, may not lead you to a faster sale of the questions aren’t pertinent to the results your product or service will produce.
What is a discovery question worth measuring – both how many times it’s asked across prospects and how often it’s answered? Jeremy says to pay attention to how often prospects engage with any given question. Which ones get them talking? Which ones give additional insight into the world your prospects live in that allow you to further customize your pitch?
You can also measure how often your discovery questions move the sale forward, such as asking, ‘I’d like to get your thoughts on that, let’s schedule a meeting in two weeks and I can pull some ideas together on my end as well.’ If your prospect is engaged in the discovery process, they’ll take you up on your follow-up offers.
Discovery questions are levers to move the sale forward, not clubs to be used to hammer prospects into submission.