The first time your prospect sees your proposal shouldn’t be their first interaction with you. If it is, the fee table might give them sticker-shock, and your proposed solution could leave them confused about how you plan to complete their project.
If you don’t have a discovery session with your prospect, you’re bound to run into these issues – and more.
Look at it this way – If you were in the market for a new car, you probably wouldn't like it if a car salesman started throwing contracts at you the moment you walked into the dealership. They don’t know what you’re looking for, what your preferences are, how much you’re looking to spend, or what you plan to use the car for.
B2B sales are no different. It takes time to get to know your customers before you start planning projects, preparing quotes, and pulling in other internal stakeholders. So before you start crafting that picture-perfect proposal, take a moment to set up a discovery session with your prospect.
What is a discovery session?
A discovery session is like a fact-finding mission that allows you to gather all the intelligence you need about your prospect, their challenges, and the outcomes they’re looking for. It’s your chance to ask the questions that will help you dig deep into their business to find the insights and information that will allow you to tailor your business proposal to their needs.
Why are discovery sessions important?
A discovery session helps you develop a better understanding of your prospect’s needs so that you can set aside the proper time and resources to plan the project and all the details involved.
With knowledge of your prospects needs, goals, and expectations, you’ll be able to more effectively drive decisions, refine scope, and align stakeholders at every phase of the proposed project. If everyone on your team is informed about the plan you’re developing, you’ll be able to provide a more accurate proposal, impress your prospect, and set yourself up for the close.
How a discovery session makes closing easier
Beyond the immediate benefit of helping you avoid scaring off prospects before you even get the chance to touch base with them, discovery sessions also make it easier to close deals. Here’s how.
1. Determine if there is a good fit
In the early stages of the sales cycle, your team is focused on generating leads that might lead to a potential sale. But until you actually connect with your prospect, it’s almost impossible to know if they’re actually a good fit. If you jump into the proposal process as soon as you learn a little bit about their background, you could end up spending hours – or even days – of your time on a lead that could have been disqualified with a simple phone call.
With a discovery call, you can ask questions about their business and situation to determine if they are worth pursuing and gauge your chances of closing them if you do. Here are just a few of the many questions you can ask:
Can you give me an overview of your company?
What are your company’s goals?
What are your timelines for achieving these goals?
Do you currently have strategies in place to achieve those goals?
If so, what are the major roadblocks to implementing them?
What are your pain points?
What are the sources of those pain points?
How do you currently address those pain points?
Why are they a priority today?
Why haven’t they been addressed before?
What is your budget for solving these problems?
What do you think could be a potential solution? Why?
What would a successful outcome look like?
What do you know about our product?
Have you used products like ours before?
How would you plan to use our product?
Is there anything you would like to know about our product?
What is the process for purchasing a solution once you have decided?
What is your timeline for purchasing and implementing a solution?
2. Give prospects a better understanding of your business/product
While a discovery meeting can help your team gauge whether or not your prospect is a good fit, it can also help them do the same. Your website and other online platforms are a starting point for them to learn about your company, product, and solutions, but a discovery call offers them information right from the source. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to answer questions they might not be able to resolve on their own and overcome sales objections that might arise.
3. Elaborate on the value you can provide
Having a direct, open conversation with your prospect is good for everyone involved. It helps them get answers to questions they’re unsure about, while giving you a stage to reiterate the value that your company and product provide. Instead of focusing on the objective value of your product, you can speak directly to their pain points, offer suggestions and potential solutions to specific problems, leverage social proof to relate their use case to those of your previous customers, and make it clear exactly how your product can help.4.
4. Build a deeper connection
Any sales materials you send to your prospect are great in the early stages, but there’s a good chance they’re receiving similar info from your competitors, too. As nice as it would be, sales isn’t as simple as sending your prospect a brochure and following it up with a contract if they like what they see. It requires effort to build rapport and foster a relationship with your prospect before they commit to moving forward. By showing your prospect that you’re invested in their success right from the start, they’ll be more inclined to want to work with you. They’ll be more comfortable asking tougher questions that they might otherwise hold back, and will probably be more honest with you about the state of the deal and what it would take to win them over.
5. Set expectations
Have you ever drastically underestimated the amount of resources it would take to get a project off the ground? Or miscalculated a project timeline? Or over-promised and under-delivered on a project?
These things happen, but they don’t have to.
Without a discovery session, it’s tough to say how long different phases of a project will take, who needs to get involved (and when), or what needs to happen at each stage. But by diving into a productive discovery session with your prospect, you’ll be able to establish clear expectations for both your team and theirs. If you can tell them exactly what to expect as the deal and project move forward, they’ll be more likely to get on board.
As an added bonus, you won’t need to scramble internally to make things work, and you’ll reduce friction between internal departments as the prospect becomes a customer.
Your team spends a lot of time finding and attracting leads, so there’s no need to rush into the proposal stage as soon as you have a promising prospect in front of you. Instead, take your time to learn about their company and business with a well-planned discovery session. It’ll help you figure out which leads to pursue, give prospects a better understanding of your business, demonstrate the value that you can provide, build a deeper connection with them, and set clear expectations. All in all, it’ll make closing way easier so that you can win more business.