Discovery is crucial to sales. When discovery calls are done right, it ensures the right leads make it to your pipeline and move efficiently through each sales stage.
To help you make your calls more impactful, I asked Stan Massueras (VP Business Development & Partnerships at Intercom) and Neil Ryland (Chief Revenue Officer at Peakon) more about how they have successfully scaled their revenue teams within their companies.
We discussed how you can enhance your team’s discovery skills to get better results and the techniques & tips you should use to level up their disco calls.
Rather listen to these insights? Go here.
In this article, we’ll talk about:
- How important discovery is to your sales funnel
- Enhancing your team’s discovery skills
- Proven tactics to get the right information — without being pushy
- The future of discovery
How important is discovery to your sales funnel?
As the Sales Director here at Demodesk, I oversee sellers who are making discovery calls every day. This critical aspect of their role is essential to the entire sales process.
So, how exactly is discovery important? If your team is qualifying the wrong opportunities, then these prospects won’t close or will end up churning in the long run. Both outcomes mean your team’s resources and time have been wasted.
Discovery is not just at the beginning of the sales cycle. Discovery is a journey, not merely a destination.
Every stage of the sales cycle should lead with discovery — reps should consistently confirm what they’ve learned from the prospect and then determine what they still need to know to help close the deal.
Enhancing your team’s discovery skills
If your sales team is not having effective discovery conversations, then we have a few tips for enhancing their skills — based on our own experience.
1. Use automation to continuously analyze & improve
Enable reps to improve their discovery skills by incorporating automation to help analyze their calls. For example, a conversation intelligence platform tool like Chorus can help enhance performance through AI-powered transcription, recording, and feedback from each customer call.
Also, take a look at your productivity data. What gets in the way the most? Analyze any time spent on unproductive tasks and then see if there is software that can drive a more efficient sales process.
Make sure your tech stack doesn’t get too extensive. We’ve seen a recent wave of companies reconsidering how many tech tools are actually necessary to create a streamlined sales process.
Be cognizant of what tools you choose and which part of your sales cycle you decide to automate.
2. Encourage preparation for discovery calls
It’s all about the research — half of your rep’s discovery can be collected prior to their initial call with a customer. This means they can learn a lot about a prospect before jumping into their first conversation!
Utilize the tools at your disposal like:
- LinkedIn (check for personal connections)
- Crunchbase for company history
- About Us section on the website
Don’t underestimate the information that lives on the company’s own website. Check here for more insight on partnerships, market information, upcoming products, etc.
When reps perform diligent research, the time spent on the actual call can be focused on answering the questions that can’t be found online. Not to mention, the customer will understand the effort that was put into making the call worth their time.
3. Set up your team to be more human
“The skill you can’t get a technology to do at the moment is to show empathy.” - Neil Ryland, Chief Revenue Officer at Peakon
As much as automation is a part of the sales process, it still can’t replace human empathy. Reps will only succeed in the long run if they are able to have a conversation like a human being, not a sales robot!
So, how can you set up your team to be more human?
- Recruit well - It all begins with the hiring process and identifying people with the right mindset. First and foremost, find naturally inquisitive and passionate people. During the interview process, note the reps that genuinely want to know the answers to questions.
They don’t always have to be from a traditional sales platform. For example, marketers and entrepreneurs make great sales reps because they are used to working collaboratively to find answers to questions.
- Remind reps to relax - Once they’ve been hired, it’s important to remind reps that they were brought on because you believed in their ability to do the job. They should also believe in their own skills and let their natural personality shine through on their calls. As long as you give them a framework to fall back on, they should feel free to be themselves in their conversations.
- Create a positive environment - As a manager, don’t create an environment where reps are afraid to make mistakes. Encourage people to be themselves and give them the space to try new approaches. It’s all about creating a culture of trust within your sales team.
- Repetition makes perfection - Like most things in life, practice makes perfect. Everyone becomes more confident when something becomes a habit.
Reps that spend time rewatching or re-listening to their own calls (and their colleagues’ calls) tend to improve and grow their discovery skills quicker.
Remember to let your reps know that it’s ok to practice! Encourage them to do a dry run or test their questions with their coworkers. You want to give reps the confidence to not be afraid to fail and to keep practicing.
Proven tactics to get the right information — without being pushy
In a recent study, 61% of buyers said the sales experience would be more positive if sales reps weren’t pushy. Discovery is all about getting the answers you need, but without steamrolling the conversation.
1. Respect the flow of the conversation
Reps need to rethink discovery as a collaborative process — it should be a conversation, not an interview.
It’s natural for reps to approach their discovery questions with a “tick the box” mentality.
However, successful discovery means finding organic ways to ask questions and learn more about a customer’s business.
As a sales manager, you need to give reps the context behind why they’re asking these discovery questions. This way, they’ll have a better idea of the purpose of their conversations.
2. Highlight your product’s value
Reps should also remember that the conversation is not just about getting answers. It’s about the prospect and what they can gain from your product. In fact, it’s been shown that the lowest sales performers spend 72% of their discovery calls talking, not listening.
Remind yourself how you can help your prospect:
- Why does this person need to have this conversation with you?
- What are the values you can give them during the call?
- Why should they spend their time talking with you?
- How could embracing this new piece of tech give them a competitive edge?
“Today, time is the most expensive currency on the planet, so what’s in it for the prospect?”
- Stan Massueras, VP Business Development and Partnerships at Intercom
Reps should bring the value of your product to the forefront of discovery. Don’t just ask questions — reps should let the prospect know the value your product can bring to their company. Reps can ask themselves:
- What did the prospect learn on the call?
- What are they curious to learn more about?
Even if it’s difficult to confirm on that initial call, identify the solution that your product can bring to them. For example, reps can say something along the lines of “Even on this first call, I think our product can improve your productivity by X percent.”
Make sure prospects are leaving the call with something of interest — this helps encourage them to take the second call.
3. Focus on the timing and relevance
Teach reps to be cognizant of timing and whether your product is right for the client, at this particular moment. Is there really an opportunity for a win here? It’s not just about trying to reach sales goals — really consider the relevance of your product within their business.
For example, if a prospect has already signed with a different company or bought another software a few months ago, then you don’t need to rush into a discovery call. However, there may be an opportunity in the future. Reps should prioritize the way they are approaching prospects and focus on using discovery to build their relationships for the long term.
4. Find the decision-maker
Every company has its own internal landscape, so it’s imperative to determine who you need to speak with to close the deals. This can be quite difficult to navigate without offending who you have on the call!
Here are some tips to help find the decision-maker:
How did you do it before?
Review your historical data to help give you more insight.
- Does this company look like a company that you’ve sold to before?
- If so, what did the process look like?
- Did you ask the right questions in a previous discovery call?
- Who did you have that call with?
These answers can give you more awareness as to how a similar company may be structured. You can then use this information to schedule your discovery call with a specific person.
Focus on conversation quality
Don’t just focus on selling to the executives. There’s a good chance that every person —from the managers to the individual contributors — will be affected by the integration of your product. Instead of spending your time trying to figure out if you’re speaking to the “right” person, remain focused on the quality of the conversation.
If you stay on track with discovery and lead with empathy, then the prospect is more likely to engage and bring in the decision-maker (if it’s not them).
Ask about the buying process
Reps can also ask other questions that may prompt the prospect to tell them who else needs to be involved in the conversation.
For example, reps can ask “When was the last time you bought this type of technology?”. The answer will give additional insight into how they typically make buying decisions, without reps having to ask outright who is in charge of the decision.
The future of discovery
Aside from the continued growth in remote sales, how teams are conducting their discovery calls is changing to fit the ever-shifting marketplace.
“There’s going to be more people-centric instead of technology-centric discovery”
- Stan Massueras, VP Business Development and Partnerships at Intercom
Discovery —and sales in general — is becoming much more people-focused. For companies specifically, it’s going to be less about incorporating the newest technology. Instead, it will be up to sales reps to show how their product can help make their entire organization more successful. The discovery call process will become even more personalized.
“What you’re seeing now is how can you bring the personality and hyper-personalization into the sales process”
- Neil Ryland, Chief Revenue Officer at Peakon
One of the biggest shifts we’ve seen in the industry is an alignment between teams. More specifically, between the inbound and outbound sales teams. With this alignment, it doesn’t matter whether it’s sales or marketing that brings in the prospects — it’s about quality leads.
Prioritizing discovery throughout your sales cycle means having your reps approach every call with empathy and collaboration. When you focus on enhancing your rep’s discovery skills, then the entire organization is set up for stronger and scalable results.