The sales discovery process is what distinguishes consultative selling from old-school transactional strategies.
Improving your discovery process increases customer satisfaction, drives retention and loyalty, reduces cancellations and returns, and enhances profitability.
If you want to demonstrate your capabilities as a sales person with your prospects and ensure you stand out from the competition, you need to be able to listen to your client and respond with intelligent conversation.
Having spent 25 years in sales, the best salespeople I know were curious ones. Here are three tips for improving the all-important sales discovery process with your team.
Act with Patience and Intention
Rushing through need discovery to get to the sale is a common problem.
The first step to an effective process is patience and intention. You must take the time to ask open-ended questions that allow a prospect to share critical details of their need.
The more you understand about your buyer – their challenges, opportunities, concerns, budgets and its sign-off process, the business needs, timeframes, personal motivation, the business drivers (the customer pain), the power base within the organisation, your competition, and more – the better you can develop a compelling solution that creates value.
As buyers share, diligent sales reps take thorough notes and listen to understand. A listening attitude sets the stage for probing questions that take discovery to a deeper level.
Probe for Pain
A lot of sellers stop after acquiring surface-level details of a buyer’s problem.
This tactic is similar to a doctor stopping after realising you have stomach pains and simply offering pain relief medication.
To make the most on-target recommendation of a problem-solving solution, probing questions are necessary.
Probing questions unearth key details about the people affected by the buyer’s problem, and the overall scope of the situation.
In a B2B setting, it is helpful to know how other individuals and departments are impacted by a particular issue. Continue to ask follow-up questions that invite the prospect to express frustrations or desires.
The more in-depth a salesperson’s understanding of the buyer’s situation, the greater the likelihood of recommending a satisfying solution for both parties.
Identifying the surface-level problem of a buyer is just the starting point of the sales discovery process.
Connect with Emotions
Top sellers connect with the underlying emotions of a buyer during need discovery. Regardless of how many times you have heard it, people buy from people they like and trust.
Working with your contact to understand their drivers and motivations helps establish rapport and trust, which not only contributes to successful sales conversions but also sets the tone for a long-term relationship.
B2B buyers often talk in terms of numbers, facts and logic. However, B2B buyers have emotions just like consumers.
Every time someone makes a purchase on behalf of a business, he risks lost credibility along with monetary losses if it doesn’t deliver on their expectations.
As you probe the buyer’s pains, show empathy. For example, if there are concerns about a certain deliverable, you could demonstrate how you solved similar concerns for another customer who had the same apprehension.
As you empathise, you continue to inspire trust and draw out yet more concerns.
Without effective needs discovery, it is virtually impossible to ensure the most accurate solution recommendations for each buyer.
Your sales discovery process requires intentional planning, effort and patience.
After gaining awareness of a prospect’s basic problem, salespeople must probe for deeper pains and connect on an emotional level.
These measures don’t delay the sales presentation stage, they enhance the efficiency of it.
When you can connect the value that your solution can offer to critical business issues within the customer organisations, it will move you up the value chain.