Taking the time to prepare properly and assemble a bevy of insightful questions are the first steps toward a fruitful sales discovery call. Here are nine more tips.
1. Probe pain gently. Never use negative, accusatory words like “pain,” “problem,” or “crisis” unless the prospect does first. Instead, use a subtle, “third-party” approach to preface your question and uncover the prospect’s struggles. For example: “Others I speak with tell me…”
2. Share and confirm the agenda. People generally appreciate knowing what’s coming. Prior to a discovery call, send the prospect an agenda and ask for their input on revising it. At the start of the call, review the agenda to remind the prospect which topics you’ll be covering.
3. Be patient and stick to your script. Your script is there for a reason. It should provide guideposts that help you navigate the conversation in a logical way and toward an optimal outcome. While conversations tend to have tangents, stick to the intended progression of questions as best you can.
4. Listen more, talk less. How much talking should you be doing? On a great discovery call, reps speak just over half of the time. Richardson Sales Performance goes even lower — no more than 30% of the time. Other sources estimate somewhere in between these figures, but you get the idea: Don’t dominate the conversation.
5. Concentrate on tone. A true conversation should be, well, conversational in tone. Don’t play the role of interrogator, stiffly firing off question after question. Rather, be personable, build rapport, and show enthusiasm for your product or service—and all it could do for the prospect and their company.
6. Convey credibility and expertise. The thorough research you do in advance of a call, says sales consultancy Challenger, will establish your credibility in the prospect’s mind. You can then demonstrate your expertise by “asking high gain questions that turn into ‘teaching opportunities’ and provide the prospect an engaging or ‘aha’ moment where they reconsider [the] status quo.”
7. Don’t be afraid to pull the plug. If their answers to your questions disqualify the prospect, go ahead and end the call early (and gracefully). After all, at that point, neither of you has anything to gain by continuing. “As a sales professional, it’s…your responsibility to recognize when the relationship isn’t meant to be,” according to software review website G2. “It’s okay to walk away.”
8. Schedule your next call. On the other hand, if you and the prospect still have mutual interest by the end of the call, close it out by getting another one on the books.
9. Learn from every call. G2 recommends evaluating discovery calls, examining the results, and making changes to optimize your performance. Recording your calls—easily done on platforms like Zoom and Google Hangouts—lets you revisit your conversations and identify what you could do better next time. An advanced conversation intelligence platform can also help you understand call performance and improve sales call tactics.