How to Do an Effective Discovery Call

Discovery calls are probably the most underrated part of the sales process. Let’s get into how you have an effective discovery call.

Video – How to Do an Effective Discovery Call

1. Do Not Show the Product

Remember: It is not about showing the product. Do not show the product. The discovery call is what takes you to the demo. The discovery call is not the demo.

These must be standalone entities. Reason one being if you race to the demo, you are going to leave critical key information out and critical insights that you are not going to learn. Then, when it comes to closing the deal, you are not going to have the knowledge you need. Reason two is that the customer is going to view it as a product and not as an outcome.

The discovery call exists to help you understand them, and for them to understand you. Therefore, do not show the product.

 

2. Ask Questions

This may seem pretty obvious, but I often hear people say, “Well, I need to work through this worksheet for the call.” I have watched and I have worked with sales teams where the discovery call process is essentially checking boxes and going through a worksheet of ‘clarifying questions.’

Those are not questions. That’s just random information.

I get that it may be ‘critical’ information. However, questions actually get the person talking, which is what the discovery call is about. Do not think of the discovery call as a qualifying call. It is about discovering information, which takes us to number three.

 

3. Uncover Needs and Outcomes

This is the information you are trying to discover in this call – in order for you to have an effective demo, you have to completely understand what the customer’s needs are and what are the outcomes that they have.

If you do not understand what those are, how in the world will you know what to present to them? You are not going to know their needs and outcomes unless you ask questions, either.

 

4. Probe 3x

“Probe 3x” means you have to go three levels deep with your questions and your uncovering of needs. You cannot just go back to the qualifying question and expect it to reveal useful information.

What do they do? Why do they do it? You have to drill three levels deep. You ask the question. You get a piece of information. You ask a follow-up question on that. You get another piece of information and you ask a follow-up question on that.

Go down deeper; it gets you where you need to be.

5. Notes, Notes, Notes

You have to be taking notes. Chances are – if you are in a large sales force – you are the one doing the discovery call, which then hands off to another person who actually does the demo. In other words, it is your job to brief that account manager, account executive or whoever it may be that is going to be doing the demo.

That said, your notes are going to be absolutely critical. Your notes are what is going to determine as to whether or not it is a successful demo.

I cannot stress this point enough: Do not think for a moment that what the customer is saying is not critical information. Write it down. Record it. You need to.

 

6. Clarify Everything

When somebody says something in passing, you have to come back and ask them about it. Ask them follow-up questions on everything.

Customers of value appreciate good discovery calls because it is where they are going to realize whether you’re simply trying to make a sale or really trying to help them.

Think about it: If you race past the discovery and go right to the demo call, customers are going to see you as somebody who is anxious to make a sale. Contrarily, if you take the time to make an in-depth discovery call to clarify everything, they will view you as someone who actually cares and wants to help them.

 

7. Build Contacts

I love this one. The only good sale is one that leads to the next sale.

Typically, a discovery call is with one person unless it’s a complex sale. Nonetheless, they are going to mention other names, and I want them to mention other names because I want to be able to engage with them and build more contacts within that company or organization.

What does this do? It not only strengthens your ability to close the initial sale, but it also begins opening the doors to future sales. You want to build contacts as rapidly as possible so you should be reaching out to those contacts as rapidly as possible.

 

8. Learn Their Process

Learning their process is not something you do in the demo, and this is something that is going to upset some people.

You don’t want to learn the process in the discovery call; you want to already know the process. This is a fundamental change that most sales organizations do not understand and do not appreciate.

Here’s the thing: If you wait to understand their process during the discovery call, the customer is going to send a short, tight message to fit to what the person wants to hear.

If you learn their process during the discovery call, it is a much more robust conversation. You learn more about it. Learn their process in the discovery call because it will help you know what and what not to show when you get to the demo.

 

9. Magnify Pain and Outcome

This seems pretty obvious, but it surprises me how many salespeople do not do this. I want you to end the discovery call by saying, “Okay, so I’m seeing this, this and this.” Let them know you really need to get ‘this’ solved quickly because if you do not, their problems are going to lead to ‘this and that.’

Magnify their pain and outcome. That is the selling process you are doing in the discovery call – you are magnifying their pain and magnifying the outcome. In fact, you’re helping them to realize the outcome, which takes us to number ten.

 

10. Leave Them Hungry

If you leave them hungry, they come into the demo with a more eager mindset. If you do not leave them hungry, they come into the demo thinking, “I’ll just check this out and see what it is like.”

You want them to come into the demo hungry and ready to make a decision.

That is why magnifying the pain and outcome is so critical because when you do that, you can begin to set them up.

A successful discovery call leads to a successful demo. That is how you close the sale.

 

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Copyright 2021, Mark Hunter “The Sales Hunter” Sales Motivation Blog.  Mark Hunter is the author of A Mind for Sales and High-Profit Prospecting: Powerful Strategies to Find the Best Leads and Drive Breakthrough Sales Results.

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