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Categories: Sales,

A recent interaction with a group of enterprise sales folks prompted me to write this post. The conversation started with, “When is the right time to do a discovery call?” This question is one that makes me cringe. Why?

Every call should be a discovery call!  Every demo.  Every Presentation.  Every conversation.

It is best practice to make every interaction with your buyer a discovery call. Your success as a sales professional hinges on connecting with your buyer, your prospect. You should have a genuine curiosity about what your prospect is trying to achieve or overcome, and why – preferably in the general area where your solution can have impact and you have some level of expertise.

I know most sales professionals would agree and would say they do this as standard practice. However, take a minute and go watch sales people in action. Sadly, more often that not, their demo is a script they follow and their presentation leaves little room for conversation.  Is there a time and place for an uninterrupted presentation? Maybe, but enterprise sales calls are neither the time nor the place.

Of course, nothing in sales is ever black or white. If all you do during a presentation is ask questions, you are probably not adding much value to the conversation. There does need to be a dialogue – a mutually beneficial give and take. You need to earn the right to ask questions.  The Challenger sales methodology says you have to deliver a provocative insight and question a core belief to be successful. However, I believe this can only be effectively done in the context of your customer’s challenges or goals.

Sample insight and related questions:

  • “Many marketing leaders tell us that most of the leads generated are useless and their current lead generation approach simply doesn’t work.  They are convinced they are not taking advantage of ‘social context’ to improve things. Would you put yourself in that group?”
  • “How do you measure the quality of your lead data? Most sales teams report the quality is poor based on conversion rates.”

It’s been said that discovery (asking questions)  is both art and science. Why? You can’t ask too many questions or start an inquisition, however, you can never be too prepared to meet with a potential buyer either. It’s a delicate balance.

Try to establish “learning objectives,” for your presentation instead of a list of questions. This gives you flexibility in your presentation and allows for conversation to flow. It’s what you’re learning (and sharing), not the actual questions being asked that is important.  This conveys a genuine interest in your buyer and allows you better understand how you can help them solve their challenges. Your goal as an enterprise sales professional is to connect your differentiated value to those specific customer business drivers to help them. It’s not about when to have a discovery call.

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