How To Execute The Discovery Phase of The Sales Process Effectively Part I

The most important part of the sales process is discovery.  In the discovery phase you are learning as much as you can about your prospect’s needs and wants.  When you understand your prospect’s needs and wants thoroughly, you can present a unique solution that will differentiate you from your competition and create value for your prospect.

There are several keys to being able to execute the discovery step well.  First, you have to have established rapport and creditability with your prospect.  This is done in the first two steps of the sales process (the introduction and gaining creditability steps).

If you have rushed through the first two steps and have no rapport and creditability with your prospect, you will not be able to ask and get an answer to the really deep questions you need execute the discovery phase.   Too often sales people fall into the trap of just asking superficial questions without getting to the pain that your prospect is feeling.

You need to understand the pain because the pain is what will cause your prospect to take action.  Your prospect will not be forthcoming about telling you the pain unless they trust you.  This is understandable because you really don’t tell someone your real problems until you have a level of trust.

Once you have established a level of trust, you have earned the right to ask the really tough questions to get at their pain.  You want to explore with your prospect what it is they need and why they fell they need it.

A decision to do business with you will first be made on emotion.  Then, your prospect will justify the decision logically.  This is true for all sales.  When you understand why your prospect fells they need something, you get to the emotional aspects of the upcoming decision.  By the same token, understanding what they need will allow you to give them the information that will help them justify their decision logically.

You will need to develop your skills in asking questions to be good at discovery.  Starting with a list of questions before making your sales call is a good idea.  This will help you keep the conversation on tract.

There will be times when you ask a question you will want to explore that topic more thoroughly based on the answer your prospect gives.  Having the list of questions made in advance, will help you not to explore that topic and not lose sight of the overall areas you wanted to explore.

Even though you are asking a lot of questions, you don’t want to make your prospect feel as if they are on a witness stand and you are an attorney grilling them for information.  You want to have a conversation.  The best way to do that is to ask open-end questions.  Open-end questions are questions that cannot be answered with a one or two word answer.  These questions require a more expanded answer.

For example you could ask the question: “how many days are in your manufacturing process?”  This is a closed-end question because the answer is going to be a one or two word response.  You could put the question in an open-end format by asking “What is involved in your manufacturing process?”

Only ask closed-end questions when you are looking for specific information.   Conversations are made with open-end questions.

Be sure to start practicing these tips now!

Happy Selling

Create Creditability By Asking The Right Questions

As discussed in our post yesterday on how to establish creditability with a prospect you have to earn the right to continue in the sales process.  The way to establish creditability with a prospect is to demonstrate that you have their best interest in mind.  Asking the right questions is a good way to establish creditability.

A lot of sales people struggle with this because they think that the best way to establish creditability is to tell how great their company is and how great they are.  While this is a part of establishing creditability, consider that before someone is going to listen to how great you or your company is they first want to know that you care about them.  Only after you demonstrate that you care about them will your message about you and your company be really heard by your prospect. Continue reading “Create Creditability By Asking The Right Questions”

How To Establish Creditability With A Prospect

If you have been in sales for any length of time you know you need to establish creditability with a prospect early on in the sales process.  This is a common principle taught in most sales development training.  Establishing creditability earns you the right to move forward in the sales process.   If you try to move forward before you have established creditability, you are probably wasting your time because your prospect is not going to value any solution you bring to them.

To establish credibility you have to show that you have the prospect’s best interest in mind. The best way to demonstrate that you have the prospects best interest in mind is: first do some pre-sale research and then when you meet with your prospect ask questions that focus on their challenges and issues.

Pre-sale research is necessary to first of all determine if you even have a potential prospect.   When you do pre-sale research here are some of the things you want to find out:

  1. The history of the company
  2. Who are the key management people
  3. What are their main products and services
  4. Who are their customers
  5. What are the industry trends
  6. What challenges face the industry
  7. Who is their main competition
  8. Who do they currently use for the products or services you sell

There are more things you could find out, but this should get you started.

Use the pre-sale research information when you meet with your prospect to demonstrate that you care enough about them to find out information before you met with them.  You want to say something like “in preparation for our meeting I was doing some research about your industry and found out one of the challenges is……..How are you dealing with this challenge?”  Do you see how that will separate you from the 10 other sales people calling on the prospect?

Next time we will look at how to ask questions to establish creditability.