April 1, 2020
Do you know what the most important conversation is sales is?
The discovery call.
It is your route to making a genuine connection with prospects and clearly displaying how a product can help them achieve their business goals.
As if the stakes were not high enough, you have about seven seconds to make a first impression on another human being, according to a Harvard study of communication.
It puts so much pressure on salespeople.
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!
A discovery call is the first step in the B2B prospecting process. It’s the phone conversation after a prospect showed interest in your product or service.
It aims at getting to know the customer to discover if they can be a good fit for your business. A good discovery call sets the relationship between the salesperson and the prospect.
Watch the video below to listen to Gabriel Padva, CEO at Revenue Accelerator, and Saif Khan, Associate Sales Director at Cognism, going through their techniques on the best ways to run a sales discovery call.
Discovery call usually takes 10 to 15 minutes. This should give you enough time to learn which pain points are afflicting the prospect, and which product features are best to show them.
Here's a simple 5-step sales discovery process that will help you along the way. You don't have to rush it!
As always in the task of lead generation, preparation makes perfect. Before you pick up the phone to make your discovery call, you must do your research!
Follow this pre discovery call checklist:
You’ll need all this intel when the prospect answers your call!
Here's what Jonathon’s says about the first item on your discovery call checklist:
Research is absolutely critical to good discovery phone call. 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.
When your discovery call starts, the first thing you need to do is identify goals. These are:
Jonathon thinks it's important to be precise at this stage of the discovery process. His advice is to:
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.
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 realize what their own pain points are.
Open-ended sales discovery questions are those that don’t require a simple “yes or “no” answer. Here are some examples of questions to ask on discovery call:
Tip! Scroll down for a list of discovery call questions.
Jonathon’s top call discovery tip at this stage is to:
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.
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.
Use the discovery phone call to show them how the features will produce benefits. Link 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 on how to run the discovery call at this stage:
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.
At the end of each stage of your call discovery, 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 on following up after discovery calls:
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.
During the call, you may also want to conduct a sales demo. It should typically take half an hour.
Jonathon also conducts demos, negotiates, and closes deals with VP and C-suite decision-makers. Here's what he said about including demos in client sales discovery:
Discovery call is critical when it comes to qualifying demo attendees. For starters, it helps you to tailor your demo to the prospect. It highlights which features to demonstrate and which questions to ask.
The idea is to create alignment between the product and the prospect — to map the product’s benefits to the prospect’s needs.
Jonathon shared with us two stats courtesy of Sales Benchmark Index. They show how important phone call discovery is to a successful demo:
Before asking discovery call questions, introduce yourself.
Select three important areas you want to discuss. Then, ask relevant, leading questions from the list below and give the prospect time to answer.
Keep the conversation natural and fluid, though. Don’t just reel off a long list of discovery questions!
Remember that the best salespeople listen and let their prospects speak more than they do.
Discovery calls are useful initial stage of prospecting.
To ensure a successful sales discovery, follow a specific process and ask the right questions.
The questions you ask during the discovery call should be geared around uncovering missing details about customers' business and the problems they need to solve.
Cognism's Sales Director, Jonathon Ilett's, final advice on a discovery sales call is to build rapport. In his experience, it's easier if make a good start.
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.
And how to start a discovery call online?
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.
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...
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