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

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