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Forming a solid connection with a sales lead involves more than just making a phone call and presenting your pitch. Getting to know a potential client and their needs with a discovery call helps engage them and set the stage for future success without the unnecessary sales hype. Check out a recorded discovery call simulation at the bottom of this post.
Sales discovery calls represent one of the most important parts of a successful sales process.
Here are some simple steps you can share with your sellers can take to ensure that their discovery calls have the best chance of success.
Find out all you can about a potential client before you ever pick up the phone.
More than 50% of prospects aren’t a good fit for what your company is trying to sell, according to recent research. Doing initial research into the sales lead helps determine whether the prospect is a good match for the products and services your company offers.
Start by reading the company’s website and social media accounts. Then search for recent news articles about the company.
If the salesperson doesn’t fully know the background of the company they’re about to call, the impact will most likely fall flat. By building a profile of the prospect, they’ll be more prepared when making the discovery call.
Next, it’s time to develop a plan for the call. The successful salesperson should develop a clear idea of what they want to cover during the discovery call and zero-in on questions about the specific company and its needs.
The length of a sales discovery call depends on the complexity and price point of the solution the company needs. For smaller price points, expect to spend about 15 minutes on the phone. Higher-ticket items or those with a longer sales cycle could take up to an hour to discuss.
While product demonstrations should be saved for a follow-up call, the potential client may insist on one. Your salespeople should take this into consideration when planning the call agenda.
More important than watching the clock during the call, however, is to form a connection with the person on the other end of the line.
The first few minutes of your discovery call sets the tone for the entire discussion. Salespeople should begin the call by introducing themselves, the company, and their role at the company. Then thank the potential client for taking the time to speak with you. Finally, explain the call’s agenda and emphasize that the top priority is getting to know their company and its objectives.
Throw in some humor, if that’s your style, or even a short personal anecdote. This can help break the ice and establish a connection. The key is to make the connection short and sweet. After all, the primary purpose of a sales discovery call is to learn about the potential client’s challenges, solution needs, and plans for the future.
The salesperson has researched the company ahead of the call, but it’s important that they not come across as too cocky or a know-it-all – let the potential buyer share information about the company which could be even more accurate and detailed than what is available publicly.
By weaving in the fact that the sales rep has done their research, together with an openness to learn more (“I saw in Newsweek that your company recently acquired such-and-such company – how has that been going for you”), the sales rep can build rapport and come across as authoritative.
When making a discovery call, sellers should make sure to ask as many of these questions as are relevant (without overwhelming the call participant!), which help provide valuable information and selling points for follow-up calls:
What about discussing pricing during the discovery call? It’s best to save this for the follow-up call, but your salespeople should be ready in case the client needs the rates up front; certainly if they are in the process of preparing a budget to solve the challenge you are speaking about, providing pricing figures at this stage could ensure that they are able to purchase your solution.
Just coach your salespeople to provide a pricing range so they understand that rates depend on product configuration, number of users, etc. If it’s a catalog price list, it’s a more straightforward answer.
One of the most important functions of a discovery call is to assess the needs of the potential client, so it’s critical to ask open-ended questions. Simple yes or no answers won’t give your salespeople the information they need to craft effective solutions for the follow-up call.
Remind your sales reps to let the potential client explain their pain points in as much detail as possible before mentioning your company’s solutions. In-depth discussion about your company’s solutions will be covered in a follow-up call later. During the discovery call, they are there to mostly listen and learn, enabling a firm connection between you and the potential client. The most important sales skill to use in a discovery call is listening.
To maximize your salespeople’s effectiveness during the discovery call, give them these additional helpful hints to keep in mind:
A discovery call done right helps your sales reps set a streamlined path for the rest of the sales process. It also allows them to present themselves and your company as a knowledgeable and authoritative voice in the marketplace.
A discovery call done wrong can stop a strong sales potential in its tracks. So, remind reps to do their homework, build a connection quickly, ask the right questions, and listen, listen, listen!
Our AI sales coach – Jenny – doesn’t just ask you questions, she can answer them, too! Your sales reps can work with Jenny as often as they want to brush up on the types of questions they may want to ask their sales prospects. The interactions are recorded and analyzed automatically, so your reps can use the practice to improve on their own, before they get to the real call.
Their managers can also zero in on trouble spots and then work one-on-one with reps to help them polish their sales conversations. You can see a sample discovery call simulation that I did with Jenny earlier today, below. I did make a mistake, though, and slipped into selling mode towards the end of the call – check it out.
Learn how Second Nature can help better prepare your sales team, including discovery calls.
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