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Sales Discovery Best Practices: 12 Tips To Take You From Good to Great

In the competitive world of sales, mastering discovery best practices can significantly elevate your team’s performance. Transitioning from a good to a great sales team involves a continuous and dynamic discovery process that fosters strong relationships and builds trust with your customers. 

Our prior post focused on the importance of mastering continuous discovery with insights from Jeff Summers, Chief Commercial Officer at Tacton Systems. In this post we leverage Jeff’s deep experience once again to provide a collection of sales discovery best practices to help you up-level your game. 

Sales Discovery Best Practices: 12 Tips To Take You From Good to Great

Make sure you check out our YouTube Journey|Cast channel for more great content from seasoned sales professionals like Jeff Summers.

Discovery Best Practices

1. Conduct Thorough Pre-Call Research

Before interacting with potential customers, conduct thorough pre-call research. This is at the top of the list of discovery best practices for good reason. Understand who you’re speaking to beyond just their LinkedIn profile. Consider their motivations, career stage, and personal circumstances. This preparation helps you connect on a deeper level and tailor your approach to their specific needs.

2. Leverage Industry Research and Institutional Knowledge

Stay up-to-date with the latest industry research and incorporate relevant insights into your discovery process. This knowledge helps you ask more informed, challenging questions that uncover deeper customer needs. Additionally, use your CRM system to capture and analyze customer responses across the organization, including input from marketing and product management. Leveraging this wealth of information can lead to better products, more effective marketing campaigns, and improved sales strategies.

3. Segment Your Discovery Approach

Divide your discovery process into two critical lenses: background questions and challenger questions. Background questions (who, what, when, where, how) provide foundational insights into the prospect’s situation. Challenger questions, on the other hand, aim to disrupt their thinking and redefine the problem or opportunity. This dual approach ensures a comprehensive understanding while also sparking innovative discussions.

4. Ask the Right Questions to the Right People

It’s crucial not just to ask questions, but to ask them to the right people. Ensure that your questions are directed at individuals who have the knowledge and authority to provide meaningful answers. If a contact cannot answer your key questions, it’s a sign you may need to engage with someone higher up or more specialized within the organization.

5. Challenge the Status Quo

Use a flanking strategy with challenger questions to change the game in your favor. Challenge the prospect’s existing assumptions and methodologies by asking why they do things a certain way or what the impact would be if they adopted a different approach. This approach not only differentiates your offering but also positions you as a valuable advisor rather than just a seller.

6. Understand Stakeholder Expectations

Beyond the immediate contact, delve into how your prospect’s decisions impact their stakeholders—customers, investors, or employees. Understanding these dynamics allows you to tailor your solution to meet broader organizational objectives and align with their strategic priorities.

7. Collaborate Across Teams

Leverage diverse perspectives within your organization to enrich your discovery process. Involve senior salespeople, sales engineers, marketers, and product managers in collaborative sessions. Their varied insights can help develop a nuanced understanding of the prospect’s needs and craft compelling solutions.

8. Shift to a Relational Approach

Move away from a transactional mindset and focus on building genuine human connections. Engage deeply by asking open-ended questions and actively listening to uncover your customers’ true needs and challenges. This approach not only builds trust but also enables you to deliver solutions that genuinely meet their expectations.

9. Engage in Active Listening

Active listening is a critical skill in the discovery process. Pay close attention to what your customers are saying and ask insightful, open-ended questions to delve deeper into their needs and challenges. By truly understanding their perspectives, you can provide more relevant and effective solutions.

10. Foster a Customer-Centric Mindset

Adopting a customer-centric mindset is key to outstanding discovery. Encourage your team to be mindful and present during interactions, focusing on building trust and understanding the customer’s world. This mindset not only improves customer satisfaction but also drives long-term loyalty and better sales outcomes.

11. Reflect and Improve

Encourage your team to reflect on their discovery interactions consistently. Regularly review the questions asked and the answers received, and consider how they can improve their approach. This continuous improvement process helps your team stay adaptable and responsive to customer needs.

12. Operationalize Insights

Ensure that insights from discovery sessions are integrated into your sales process seamlessly. Institutionalize the practice of strategic questioning and collaborative discovery across your team. This ensures consistency and enhances your ability to deliver tailored solutions that resonate with prospects.

Capturing the output of a great discovery process and sharing it back with your prospect or customer for confirmation and empowering them to make edits and corrections will ensure alignment on expectations. It fosters relationship building as they are now collaborating with you and not passive in the problem solving process. By embracing sales discovery best practices, you can move your sales team from good to great, creating meaningful connections, gaining deeper insights, and ultimately achieving superior sales results.

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