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Mastering Continuous Discovery: The Key to Sales Success

The deal you forecast to close in the quarter slips or, worse yet, vanishes altogether. What does this have to do with discovery? Failing to continue meaningful discovery during contract phases can lead to lost deals. By continuously engaging with your customers, you ensure alignment with their needs and expectations, leading to better sales outcomes –effective and continuous discovery is the foundation for all your sales activities. 

In this multi-part post, we dig into the importance of discovery. The content is based on a series of interviews with seasoned sales professionals that you can watch on our YouTube Journey|Cast channel. We will share perspectives, tips, best practices, and tools to help you improve your discovery skills. We kick off this series at the beginning:

What is Continuous Discovery?

Continuous discovery is the process of accumulating knowledge throughout the sales cycle. It’s about understanding your customer’s needs, challenges and goals to tailor your approach effectively. Discovery is not just an initial step but a continuous journey that evolves as you gather more insights. This process involves asking the right questions, actively listening and engaging with your customers to uncover deeper insights that drive your sales strategy. Embracing discovery means being curious, adaptable, and committed to understanding your customers better to deliver solutions that truly meet their needs. 

A Tale of Three Salespeople

In the world of sales, there are various approaches and styles that professionals adopt. Jeff Summers, Chief Commercial Officer at Tacton Systems and “a 37-year software guy,” explains the importance of effective discovery using three distinct salespeople that you may identify with. Which one are you? Watch Jeff’s tale of three salespeople.

 

 

Stu the “Show Up and Throw Up” Sales Guy:

Stu represents the classic salesperson who believes that more calls and demos inevitably lead to sales. His approach is straightforward and somewhat aggressive: get into the meeting, introduce the team and quickly hand over to the sales engineer to start the demo. Stu’s philosophy centers on asking questions only when he already knows the answers, akin to cross-examining a witness. This method often puts the customer on the defensive, leading to a transactional rather than a personal engagement. Stu’s approach may yield quick results but often lacks the depth of understanding necessary for long-term success.

Salli Mae the Persistent Pitcher:

Next, we have Salli Mae, who is all about persistence. Salli Mae believes that perseverance is key to winning deals but is too focused on asking questions, and not focused enough on listening to the answers. She follows up rigorously, ensuring that no opportunity slips through the cracks. However, Salli Mae sometimes overemphasizes the pitch and underestimates the power of listening. By focusing too much on pushing the product, she can miss out on crucial insights from the customer that would tailor the solution more effectively to their needs. While persistence is valuable, without proper discovery, Salli Mae’s efforts can feel pushy and misaligned with customer expectations.

Mary the Adaptive Advisor:

Finally, there’s Mary, the adaptive advisor, who epitomizes the modern approach to sales. Mary understands that discovery is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. From the initial meeting through to the final negotiation, Mary is keenly focused on understanding the customer’s needs, challenges and goals. She asks open-ended questions and listens actively, adapting the pitch based on the insights gathered. Mary’s approach fosters trust and builds strong, long-lasting relationships with customers. By valuing the discovery process, Mary not only meets but often exceeds customer expectations, leading to higher satisfaction and loyalty.

Each of these salespeople illustrates different facets of the sales process. While Stu and Salli Mae highlight common pitfalls of superficial engagement and over-persistence, Mary demonstrates the power of continuous discovery and adaptive selling. Embracing Mary’s approach can significantly enhance your sales effectiveness, leading to more meaningful and successful customer interactions.

Discovery – The Right Way

In today’s sales landscape, redefining the discovery process is essential. Instead of viewing discovery as a checklist of tasks, you should see it as building a genuine human connection with your customers. This new approach emphasizes trust and relationships from the first conversation, fostering a deeper understanding of their needs and challenges. Unlike the old way, which focused on structured activities, the new way of discovery is dynamic and continuous, evolving with each interaction. By embracing this mindset, you can create more meaningful engagements and drive better outcomes throughout the sales cycle.

Next, we will explore how to up-level your discovery skills and move 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.

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