Lately I’ve been working with sales teams that have as part of their clients “buying” process some form of discovery interaction. In some cases it's a questionnaire disguised as a conversation. In others it’s a
test of the research that’s already in hand.
So what should it be?
In the era of Value Creation I’ve been writing about, there has to be some value to the client for the exchange of information. At it’s simplest; your discovery meeting needs to appeal to the higher mind of the value of the input. How are you going to use it? What will the next interaction look like as a result? Who will benefit? This means it needs to sound like there’s purpose behind every question.
In the case of corporate benefits, so much focus is spent on platform constructs, the number of participants, and the fiduciary responsibility that the sponsor bears. In other B-to-B sales, it’s about getting enough information to start the right dialog. In many cases, it’s totally appropriate to send a questionnaire in advance. Some of our clients actually complete it, others use it to prep for the discovery meeting itself.
I believe that value is role and industry specific, so discovery must align with the client’s day job. Salespeople need to fact-find given the notion of what’s changing in the client’s environment and the nature of their personal self interests. It’s also likely that you won't be doing discovery with a CEO or CFO, so show a good deal of respect to the level of stakeholder you’re engaging. For example, if you’re meeting with a Benefits Specialist, know that their entire life is administration and they work HARD. For the head of HR in a small company, they’re wearing the HR, Training, and Recruiting Hat. In both cases, this can't seem like another thing they have to do on their list. Give them the Staples “Easy” button and always err on the side of deference and respect.
Send me a note to let me know how your next discovery meeting goes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bill Walton Sales Training has over 60 years of collective Fortune 500 company experience in Sales, Sales Training and Field Sales Management. Our specialty is preparing individuals and organizations to present their value propositions in a way that results in higher close ratios. Our team are un-blurring the lines of differentiation between their client's fiercest competitors.