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A Sales Pro Shares 7 Tips for Better Discovery Calls

For an account executive, discovery calls are the only phase of the sales process that will happen 100% of the time. It’s not guaranteed that you’ll make it to the next step.

So you need to deliver every chance you’ve got.

Your discovery calls have a massive impact on your closing rates, your deal sizes, and how short your sales cycle is. They matter that much.

During the most recent episode of the Closing Show Live, we sat down with Daniel Hebert, Director of Sales at Q4, to learn how he approaches discovery calls and how he trains the reps on his team.

Click here to watch the full interview, or keep reading for Daniel’s best tips.

1. Build momentum early on in the discovery call

You need to be careful about how you approach the beginning of the call.

“If you spend the first 10 minutes asking a lot of yes or no questions or talking about the basic functionality of your product, then you’re not going to build the momentum that you need to get an intro call off the ground to set you up for success.” - Daniel Hebert, Director of Sales at Q4

To build momentum, make the call about the prospect—not about you or your product.

Don’t dive into your solutions and features too quickly. Instead, take the time to really understand the prospect’s fears, pain points, and goals.

2. Understand why the prospect took the call

So how do you uncover your prospect’s pain points?

One of the best first questions you can ask is why the prospect is even talking to you in the first place.

For inbound leads, you can ask What led you to book a demo with us?” And for outbound leads try, “We reached out to you out of the blue, what made you want to hop on a call with me?”

The answers to these questions help you understand what the prospect is struggling with, what they’re looking for, and where stage they’re at in their evaluation of solutions.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask close-ended questions

You’ve probably heard this advice before: only ask open-ended questions so you keep the prospect talking.

But that’s only partly true. There is a time and place for close-ended questions.

Daniel actually recommends starting with a few close-ended questions to identify how advanced the prospect is and what issues they might be facing. Then follow up with open-ended questions to get all of the details.

“For example, for Proposify, you could ask, ‘Do you have a CRM? Do you have a specific proposal stage in your sales process? Do you have a template for that?’

You ask a couple of close-ended questions that are an easy yes or no to understand their setup. If they’re a yes for all of that stuff, then you know they’re more advanced. Next I would ask, ‘Walk me through how you create a proposal.’ That last question allows for a longer response.” - Daniel Hebert

Once you’ve got some insights, make sure to dig deeper. Find out how the business is impacted by the process (or lack thereof) described.

4. Try the “menu option” technique

Daniel uses what he calls the “menu option” technique to keep discovery conversations on track. This hot tip will help you avoid chats about a prospect’s priorities, goals, and struggles that have absolutely nothing to do with your solution.

“You give them a few options…here’s what others in your shoes are telling us, are any of those relevant to you? And if they say yes, then you’ve steered the conversation to a place where you’re talking about big issues that you can solve. It doesn’t go sideways.” - Daniel Hebert

It’s a good idea to test your menu options, especially when you’re working for an early stage company where the ICP isn’t crystal clear. You could come up with 3 menu options and test them on 5 calls. If all 5 prospects say they don’t identify with those pain points, then it’s back to the drawing board.

5. Set expectations and always have an agenda

Prospects want you to respect their time. Set expectations and always have an agenda.

For example, if the prospect comes to the call expecting a product demo, they might be disappointed if you don’t show the product. You could let them know that a demo isn’t on the agenda yet.

“At the start, you might say something like ‘This is a two-part process. The first is half an hour, where we’re going to go into your needs. The second is an hour, where we’ll demo the software. Does that work for you?’ Most prospects say yes.” - Daniel Hebert

At the beginning of the meeting, share the agenda with the prospect. At the end, check to see if you’ve satisfied that agenda, and invite them to the second call. Clarify the purpose of the second call. Keep following that process (schedule a call, satisfy the agenda) until the deal is closed.

6. Demo your product for deeper discovery

Oftentimes, it’s best to not demo the product in the initial call so you can focus more on deep discovery. But for some products, prospects really expect to see the product during the first call and they don’t want to wait.

If that sounds like your target audience, know that it’s okay to demo your product in the first call. Just make sure that you’re not rushing to that phase. When you do start the demo, keep the discovery going.

“Use your demo as a form of discovery. For example, you might walkthrough a key feature and then ask something like, ‘How would this impact your process? How would this compare to what you’re currently doing?’” - Daniel Hebert

Their responses can provide tons of information that will help you move them further down your pipeline.

7. Sell the problem

When in doubt, always return to the prospect's core problems. If you truly connect with them around their problems, you can’t go too wrong during your discovery process.

“Sell the problem, not the product. If you understand their problems better than anyone else, the buyer is more likely to choose you.” - Daniel Hebert

The deeper you dig into the details, the more you show your breadth of understanding and your willingness to solve the problem.

Ready to sell proposals designed to close? Check out a demo of Proposify.

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