I always say that you can relate almost every aspect of sales back to dating, so let’s imagine for a moment that the old way of doing discovery calls is still applicable today and see what that looks like in a first date.
Thanks for making time to meet for wine today, Fred. So, what I’d like to do first is hear why you accepted this date. Mmmhmmm…oh, because I asked you out? Oh. Okay. Um…okay so ah, can you tell me about some of the issues you’ve had with your previous girlfriends? Mmhmm mmhmmm. Okay, now let me ask you some financial questions – what’s your FICO score, what’s the balance of your 401K, how diversified are your investments? What? That’s too forward? Okay, well, one thing I’d also like to cover is your parents and siblings. Are they part of the process if you decide I’m awesome and want to date me more? Like, do I need their approval…should we patch them in now on FaceTime, or.. Hmm? You think I’m weird? Okay, well, also, if I’m the right person for you, which, believe me, I am, how fast do you think you’d like to get married? Fred? Okay, okay, let’s not rush it! What I’d like to do now is first, tell you again, with no other context whatsoever, that I’m amazing and you definitely want a second date, and second, I’d like to get your family on the next outing so we can speed this up to marriage. Does that sound good to you, Fred?
Are you cringing? Me too. Here’s why that date and most discovery calls are awful – because we’ve lost the focus (and ability) to have a proper conversation. All of the questions you’ve been told to focus on – challenge, decision making power, budget, etc. – are important, but the most important aspect of a discovery call is that we find out as much as we can about our prospect while making a positive first impression that adds value. That’s it. If you come out of the gate with your firing-range of selfish questions, you’ll do the opposite. It’s not about you – no one cares about you (yet!) – it’s about your buyers and what you can do for them.
My philosophy is simple – if someone gives you 30 minutes of their day, it’s because they have a challenge; it’s now your job to solve it – either directly by what your company does or via an introduction to someone you know that will solve that for them.
So, how do you then run the perfect discovery call? Here’s my formula:
- 90-120 seconds (this isn’t science, it’s a range) of rapport building, NOT about the weather. Do your homework, find something to connect on about them, their location, their background, etc.
- To launch into discovery, let me first tell you the starting questions I detest: “Can you tell me what interested you in taking today’s call?” “So, what I’d like to do is tell you about where we fit into the market and then…” “Can you tell me a specific challenge you’re having right now with xyz product?” These are either selfishly driven or too specific to really get anywhere. Yes, even the first one.
- To launch into discovery, I always use the exact same question. “So, I could tell you a million things about #samsales Consulting, but I’d love to hear from your perspective first – what the team is like, challenges you’re having, and just the overall landscape of what things look like at COMPANY, if that’s okay?” I’m doing three things here: One, I’m breaking the ice in a far more conversational way to get them talking. I don’t actually care about the team, the challenges, etc. – I care about whatever is in that person’s brain and I want them to stream of consciousness about why they took the call. Two, I’m asking as broad of a question as possible. Again, this isn’t about me and my questions, it’s about the prospect and what they want to talk about. And three, I’m asking for permission. I rarely get someone who says, “I actually don’t want to talk about myself first, you go!” From time to time, you’ll get the, “I’ve actually heard a ton about you already, I have some issues with sales and I actually have some specific questions for you, if that’s okay?”, but otherwise, you’ll get their approval and get them going.
- Once that person launches into their stream, I make a point to not interrupt or get off track – I want every single thought that they have to come out so I can take proper notes.
- Each piece that they give me then becomes an outline for how to run the rest of my call. For example, if the answer from my buyer is something like, “Sure, so the landscape over here is that we’re really struggling with sales. I’m concerned that our BDRs aren’t using the right content to get meetings, which is having them fall short of expectations. Our first to second meeting conversion ratio is super low, so I’m also worried that we’re missing the mark on our discovery calls. Last year we also had a shift in leadership which is good in the sense that we can do more with training given our new leader, but it also cause such a shift that we lost out on the focus of chasing many opportunities and our team ended the year at about 47% of goal.”
- When I hear that, I make an outline, just like you did in high school English – I. BDR Meetings II. Discovery Call Process III. Change in Leadership IV. 47% of Annual Goal.
- Once the buyer is done speaking, my next line is always along the same lines of, “Okay got it, I have about a million questions…can I circle back to the first point you made and ask you a few of them?”
- This then allows me to systematically go back to the top point (BDR Meetings) and start to work my way down through the outline I’ve built. While I’m asking questions, I’m also weaving in customer stories that are intriguing enough to the buyer in order to help me advance that first call to a second call. For example, “One of my clients had the same issues with their BDR team, but when we dug into process together, we found that not only was their content and sequencing off, but that they didn’t know how to handle objections or push back.” When you give a buyer a customer story like this, you give them someone to relate to, you give them a “Yes! I think that’s also our issue!” and that someone they’re relating to is now a client that had their problems solved by…you. It paints a picture for your buyer of what life could be like if they bought your solution.
- As a close, my goal for the next call is to always double the quality or double the quantity of the people on my call. What I mean by that is, if I’m speaking to the Director of Sales, I want to make sure that I either get a second person involved in my second call, or that I get a title to join us that is higher than the Director. I want to scale my time as much as I possibly can, so by doing this, I can get more eyes, more influencers and possibly a decision maker on the line. How?
- “Okay, so I actually think we can be of tremendous help here. I’d love to schedule a second call for us and, first, how does that sound? Okay, great. So let’s look at schedules and, who else on your team do you think could find value in this or who else would you like to invite to be a part of the conversation?” This closing allows them to choose individuals to add rather than me asking, like a robot, “Who else is involved in this decision?” A small tweak in words here makes a meaningful difference.
Begin working these tips into your discovery calls, build your customer stories and learn how to have better conversations. DM me any time and update me on how these tips are being of help to your sales game!