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Discovery calls 101

April 1, 2020

Why are discovery calls important? 

86% of B2B buyers say they see “no real difference between suppliers”. With so much choice available to customers, it’s more important than ever for salespeople to make a genuine connection with prospects and clearly display how their product can help change their lives.

Discovery calls are your route to achieving this. In this article, we’re going to provide you with a step-by-step guide to an impactful discovery call, as laid down by our Sales Director, Jonathon Ilett

But first, a definition…

What are discovery calls?

A discovery call is a step in the B2B prospecting process. It’s the first call after connecting with a prospect through cold calling.

A good discovery call sets the relationship between the salesperson and the prospect. It determines whether or not the product the salesperson is selling is a good fit for the buyer.

5 steps for making successful discovery calls

1 - Do your research

As always in the task of B2B lead generation, preparation makes perfect. Before you pick up the phone to make your discovery call, you must do your research! Follow these steps:

  • Visit the prospect’s LinkedIn page and their company’s LinkedIn page.
  • Double-check that the information you have on them is correct.
  • Take a look at the company’s website. Make notes on anything useful you find, such as their location, the technology they use and the types of customers they have.

You’ll need all this intel when the prospect answers your call!

Jonathon’s top tip:

“Research is absolutely critical to good discovery. You don’t want to waste time or appear unprepared by asking questions when the answers are readily available online. Also, if you can show the prospect that you’ve taken the time to research their business thoroughly, that will go a long way to establishing trust.”

2 - Identify goals

When your discovery call starts, the first thing you need to do is identify goals. These are:

  • The company's short-term and long-term sales strategy goals.
  • The prospect’s individual goals.
  • Ask the prospect questions that reveal this information. Their answers will be your basis for further discovery. Keep them in your mind as the call progresses. How will your product help the prospect and their company achieve these goals?

Jonathon’s top tip:

“It’s important to be precise. Focus on metrics and get percentages if possible. Establish quantity. For example, you can ask a question like: how much are you looking to increase your net new bookings? Then you can tie the prospect’s answers to the results that your product can deliver.”

3 - Identify pain points

The prospect has investigated your company because they have business challenges they want to overcome. For some, the pain they’re feeling may be hard to define. It’s the salesperson’s role during the discovery call to explain their pain!

The best way of doing this is to ask open-ended questions about the prospect and their business. Get the prospect talking more and they’ll soon realise what their own pain points are.

Open-ended questions are questions that don’t require a simple “yes or “no” answer. Here are some examples:

  • What prompted you to explore our solution?
  • What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing right now? 
  • What’s prevented you from relieving this pain?
  • What would happen if you did nothing about it? 
  • How important is it to you to solve this quickly?

Jonathon’s top tip:

“Identify 2-3 pain points that the prospect is experiencing. Check with them afterwards if you’ve understood correctly. My advice is to focus on the prospect’s tech stack - chances are, there’s a gap there that your product can fill.”

4 - Tie it all together

Take the 2-3 pain points you’ve unearthed and connect them to a specific feature of your product. Now, this gives you a shortlist of features you can explain to the prospect. 

Show them how the features will produce benefits - linking the benefits to the B2B sales goals from point #1. Tieing everything together in this way will help you build up a strong business case.

Jonathon’s top tip:

“Don’t go through every one of your product’s features. The prospect is only interested in the parts that are relevant to them and their business.”

5 - Recap and reaffirm 

At the end of each stage of your discovery call, repeat what you’ve learned back to the prospect. Ask them if what you’ve discovered is correct. It’s far from a pointless exercise - doing this means that they might divulge even more information that will help you!

Jonathon’s top tip:

“When your discovery call comes to an end, recommend the next step but let the prospect decide. It could be a follow-up email or going straight into booking a product demo. Always set exact timings for whatever the next step will be.”

Jonathon’s bonus tip

“My final tip is to build rapport! Easier said than done - but here are some tactics you can use.”

“Don’t launch into your sales patter/product reel straight away. Take some time at the start of your discovery call for “small talk” - get the prospect relaxed and comfortable talking to you. Doing this means they’ll be more likely to share with you as the call goes on.”

“If you’re conducting the call online (which is likely considering recent global events!) - always make sure the video is on! Being able to see each other will help you build rapport much quicker.”

B2B sales insights 

We’ve published a guide for B2B sales leaders - B2B outbound: Building an engine for predictable growth.

In it, you’ll find the answers to questions like...

  • How do I build and motivate a high-performing sales team?
  • What are the most important B2B sales metrics and how do I track them?
  • How can I improve my cold calling strategy?
  • What’s best practice for prospecting to CEOs?

Our B2B sales eBook is available now! Click below to get your copy.

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