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In my coaching practice and call reviews there are timeless fundamentals that we must achieve on Discovery Calls. Sadly, many of them are still being missed.
When reps get ghosted, deals fall into the graveyard territory you can draw a line back to the questions that weren’t asked and commitments that were not gained. I am sharing some of the main fundamentals that must take place for an effective Discovery call. I also did a solo podcast episode on this for further suggestions.
Starting the call, our prospects are hoping this will be an exchange of value for time. In the first 7 seconds they are forming a first opinion of you, right or wrong this is the way the brain works. To show them this will be a good use of time, start with having a clear purpose. Why are we here? Time to set clear expectations for the call. Share a high-level agenda of what we will cover, and ask them if they agree. would they like to add anything different? What are they hoping to get out of the call? Start engaging them from the beginning, this is a conversation, not a monologue.
Follow this with the End Goal. By the end of the call, what next step should you be ready for?
Example: The purpose of today’s call is to learn more about the coaching program of your department. We will look at it from (Agenda) your coaching goals, what program you have set up and how it’s progressing. By the end of the call, we should be able to determine whether or not it makes sense for us to share our coaching platform as an adjunct to your system. Does that align with your objectives? How does that sound? Whatever language you use. You need agreement. You all must be shooting for the same True North.
This allows us to ask the right questions, understand the timeline, lessons learned etc as we have an end in mind. Without this, the conversation wanders aimlessly and we don’t know where the end is or if we’ve hit it. Random questions, leading nowhere. I see this way too often, your prospects' face doesn’t lie. They immediately know this is a time waster.
Confirm Time. Does the scheduled 30-minute time still work? Should we want to move forward with X we will need to back out 5 minutes to schedule the next steps. Is that ok with everyone?
Now we move into the body of the discovery, the goal is to understand their challenges and the impact they are having. Think broadly here, impact on the leader, team, other departments, brand, shareholders etc. Zoom out.
Using the Rule of 3 is useful here, people remember things in 3’s. After every challenge and impact, the opportunity to recap using their language, mirroring. This allows them to feel heard and forces you to practice active listening. When you use the Rule of 3 you are breaking the challenges into bite-size topics to fully digest and go deep. This may be the first time your prospect is speaking out loud about them and fully understanding their impact.
Questions to ask:
Be mindful not to interrogate, tonality and pausing is important here. Also, sharing context: "The reason I ask is because…"
Also, understand what metrics, and KPIs are impacted as a result of this challenge. This shows your understanding of their business and highlights the importance of solving it as it not only impacts their department but potentially others.
Finally, are there high-level priorities, or company initiatives that your solution would align under? Help them achieve a bigger goal by solving this smaller one with your solution.
During the meeting, it is important to pause and hold space for your prospect to fill it. Avoid speaking immediately after they finish speaking. Check-in regularly, if you are sharing any type of information, storytelling, volley back, what are your initial thoughts? Does this resemble your team? Get them thinking and sharing out loud This is not a cornering trap to set them up with yes questions, you want to hear their thoughts. When we don’t do this, the conversation is very one-sided. At the end of the call, they will say no questions and that will probably be the end of the engagement. They want a two-way conversation. Understand what their thoughts are in the moment.
This is our chance to get in front of objections, clarify, ask for examples, and provide more details if necessary. It shows our genuine nature to help them as they are the focus. During the body of the meeting, we can also leverage The Power of Storytelling and Social Proofing. Sharing relatable stories and examples builds credibility and trust. It also allows your prospect to see themselves in the before state of the story, and know they are not alone.
One important and often missed question is “What happens if you don’t solve …?” We must understand the risks and consequences of not solving the customer's challenges. What is the cost of Inactivity, if nothing happens, and there is no urgency? Do they lose funding, have to lay off, or postpone other initiatives, this is a critical piece of information. Finally, we approach the end of the call.
This is an opportunity to summarize the 3 challenges and the impact of what you heard. Bring it back full circle to the purpose. No surprises, everyone agreed on the end goal. This is your opportunity to determine if you satisfied the purpose and are in a position to move forward. Sync up so beautifully as they are prepared for this. All the questions, stories, social proof etc. were geared toward this.
If you are ready to move forward, lock the next steps down on the call while you have everyone. Get calendar’s out, send invites and ask them to accept on the call. Everything ties back to the expectations that were set. Try this out and let us know the difference in your confidence with the structured approach and the number of discovery calls that advanced to demos.
You will be surprised!
For 20 years Karen has been specializing in the art and science of sales and communication her passion and experience are helping technical sales professionals become more confident and to disrupt with value.
Her dedication to developing and delivering customized sales training programs provide her audience practical, relevant tools that can be used immediately to break down the barriers in a competitive landscape and separate themselves from the noise.