But it’s more than just getting to know your customer and their company — you have to dig deep into their core pains and then be able to take actionable insights away from the conversation.

So, how do you get started?

Know their history

If you’re lucky, the prospect on the other line of your discovery call is about to embark on a voyage that will hopefully end in them buying what you sell. But before you can navigate those closing call waters, you have to have a thorough introduction.

Prior to even picking up the phone, know what has been going on with that customer. Even go as far as roleplaying what they’re thinking, so you’re caught up with the conversation that’s already taken place in their mind.

You can also lean on the hard data that’s in front of you. With an abundance of details and data in your CRM, along with social media channels that can be easily leveraged, it should be impossible for you to show up to the call ignorant of what’s happening in your prospect’s world.

Be ready to talk business

It’s common for many sales reps to dive directly into pain points for their initial part of discovery. However, the most informative conversations start with understanding plans for the business.

Before anything, use this opportunity to get to the bottom line. Under most circumstances, your prospect is not investigating your product out of academic curiosity. So, don’t be afraid to straight up ask, “What’s causing you to consider us?”

From there, continue to build rapport. Successful salespeople tend to talk about rapport-related topics at the beginning of sales calls, dive deeply into 3-4 customer problems, and then wrap up logistics and next steps at the end.

Just like when a doctor is asking questions to learn more about your lifestyle, you should begin your discovery call by asking your prospect about how their company is structured.

Questions specifically asked about the customer’s business issues, challenges, goals, and areas of relevant concern have a stark relationship to bringing the deal across the finish line.

In other words, for an effective discovery sales call, don’t just ask more questions; ask more targeted questions.

Get personal

After obtaining both background information, along with the state of your prospect’s business, it’s time to learn more about the buyer’s goals.

Identify which personas are part of the buying committee, and know the ins and outs of their individual goals.

 For example, if your prospect is a B2B sales leader, you can ask questions like:
– Are you losing deals?
– Are you not growing?
– Are your competitors outperforming you?
– Are your distributors pressuring you to increase volume?
– Is there a chance you might lose exclusivity?

During this part of the discovery, you should also be on the lookout for short-term versus long-term goals. Are they trying to reach their goals this quarter, or this year? From there, you can ensure your solution fits their needs in a timely manner.

Far too often, sales reps get hung up trying to ask too many questions in a short amount of time. As mentioned above, it is important to use your time with prospects by asking deeper, more intelligent questions to understand how problems are impacting business.

It’s also important to remember that you’re not interrogating the customer here. Make sure you maintain a two-way dialogue, as an interrogation is equally frustrating for the potential customer.

Map out their pain points

How do you know if your discovery call was successful? If you have a follow-up call scheduled on the calendar, the answer should be pretty clear.

As you move into the stages following a discovery call, consider pain mapping your prospect’s list of concerns.

Just as user experience teams use customer journey maps to solve issues with a product, sales teams can follow a similar approach. After your discovery call ends, think about how you can start solving the problems they’re facing.

As you begin the mapping process, know the difference in variants of pain that you’ve uncovered during their discovery call. Surface pains are things that seem straightforward (i.e. trying to grow revenue, but missing revenue targets). Core pain goes much deeper – if a prospect is trying to grow their business but failing, these problems surface as people start getting fired and divisions begin shutting down.

At the end of the day, the impacts of pain make your prospects emotional. When you take the time to map the pain from the surface to the core, your prospects will have a real reason (fueled by both logic and emotion) to make a purchase.

Chris Orlob is Senior Director of Product Marketing at Gong.io

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