March 30

Why Your Salespeople aren’t Making Discovery Calls (and What to Do About it!)


Picture this.   As a salesperson, you’ve been asked to give a presentation or demo to a qualified prospect. No easy feat in today’s competitive marketplace!  After high-fiving the rest of the team, what’s your plan?

  1. Start cutting and pasting from previous presentations.
  2. Review your prospect’s website and get the needed information.
  3. Plan discovery calls with key people within your prospect’s organization.

If you do anything other than number three, you may very well be wasting your time. There’s a saying that applies to presentations in this regard:

Garbage in – Garbage out

Your presentation is only as good as the quality of the information you have, therefore discovery plays a critical role in your ultimate success. While much information about a company can be found on-line, the best, most insightful and valuable source of information comes directly from the mouths of key people within your prospect’s organization. This information helps in several ways.  You are able to more closely tailor your presentation to a prospect’s interests, role, and experience.   And you also  gain a broader perspective of the problem so you can provide a more comprehensive solution.

Yet many salespeople tell me it’s difficult to get decision-makers or key influencers to commit to a discovery call.   Salespeople’s  efforts are being ignored, or they’ve given up trying after making a cursory attempt.

Why Salespeople aren’t Making Discovery Calls

I find most difficulties making discovery calls boil down to these three reasons:

  1. Salespeople are so excited at the opportunity to get in front of a prospect that they don’t want to push any further for fear the chance will evaporate.
  2. Buyers are skeptical about the value of these calls.  Their time has been wasted in the past by reps who ask probing questions.  Unfortunately those same reps often show up and deliver a presentation or demo that ignores the information they provided.
  3. Salespeople aren’t selling the prospects on the benefits for the prospect of a good discovery call.

These three issues are inter-related and can be corrected by adopting the right mindset and tactics.

Adopt a Discovery Mindset:

As a salesperson you must recognize that it is a fair and reasonable request to ask for input from those within your prospect’s company. Drop the idea that they are “doing you a favor.”  After all, you are working to provide a solution to a problem or challenge that likely effects them, either directly or indirectly.

Sell the Value of Discovery:

Don’t assume the stakeholders you are reaching out to recognize the value of taking a  discovery call with you.  Buyers who have had valuable time wasted are understandably skeptical, which means you need to sell the benefits.  The primary benefit is that it gives you a better understanding of your prospect’s situation and needs.  This  of course allows you to provide a more accurate and precise recommendation to address their problem.

Another benefit is that it allows you to deliver a “tighter” (read: shorter) presentation since you won’t have to guess which information is relevant.   Don’t underestimate the appeal of a shorter presentation to those  who are going to be present at your presentation or demo.

Note:  If you show up at your presentation and don’t incorporate or ignore your stakeholder’s valid and relevant input, you are perpetuating the problem!  Get more tips on how to do a great discovery call here. 

Adopt a Prospecting Approach        

If you were prospecting, would you reach out to a potential customer without providing a clear value statement as to why you should meet?  Not likely.  You’d know you need to pique their interest and state the benefits of the conversation up front.  You’d ask for a specific call to action.  And, (this part is often forgotten), if you didn’t get a response, you’d follow up!   When prospecting, you wouldn’t expect to get a “yes” with the first email or call, so don’t expect it when you’re trying to do discovery either.   Implement a discovery follow-up plan to ensure you have the needed information in time for your presentation.

By the way, you can make it easy for your prospect to schedule that call with you by using a tool like HubSpot Sales.   In addition to allowing your prospect to quickly select a time that works for them, you’ll be able to easily capture and organize the information from your call to use in your presentation or share with your team.

Don’t be shy about making discovery calls. Sell the value of the call and be dogged in your pursuit. Discovery is a two-way street. Done right, it benefits both you and your prospect.



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