The discovery process in sales is the most important part of the sales process.
The exploratory process with your prospect is what will set up the next parts of the sales process from there on out to either be great or not. If you don’t have a solid process for exploration with your prospects you cannot have a great sales process. Things will fall apart along the way if you don’t master this first step of the sales process.
Time to get back to basics.
What is the point of the discovery process or exploratory call?
Think about why you are taking time to talk to someone in the first place. You have a job to do. Why are you doing what you are doing? Your time is valuable and so is your prospect’s time. Do not forget this. Respect that the exploratory process is a mutual process for both you as a sales rep and the prospect.
The goal of the discovery process or exploratory process (whatever you want to call it) is to figure out if you should spend more time together. It is a mutually agreed upon thing.
There are really 2 outcomes.
1. The prospect is disqualified.
2. The prospect is qualified.
As a sales rep your job is to sell.
To be able to sell you need to have a good understanding of when and why a prospect could see value in your product or service that you are selling. To be able to tell when a prospect is a potential buyer.
The end outcome or goal of an exploratory process is very simple. It is to agree upon next steps TOGETHER to help that prospect buy your product or service OR how they will evaluate your service or product with an end goal of buying it.
Your job as a sales rep is to come away from that first call or meeting knowing that you both want to spend more time together, for a mutually agreed upon reason.
Not just for fun or for free consulting or help. Time is money.
The goal of agreeing to spend more time together is to see if it makes sense for the prospect to buy your product or service.
You must walk away from that meeting knowing if you have aqualified potential buyer or not. If you hang up the phone after your exploratory call or come out of your first meeting not sure what next steps are, you did not do your best.
If you come out of the meeting not knowing why you are talking again or not knowing what the point of you both talking again is, then you did not do the best job you could as a sales rep.
It is your responsibility as a sales rep to master the exploratory process. If you want to be great at sales and always crush quota you need to know where to spend your time, who to spend your time with and how to spend your time.
Here are some things that I do everyday to make sure I am spending my time with qualified potential buyers in the sales process. If you ask yourself these questions every time you start a sales process with a potential customer you will see better results.
Is there pain and need for what your product does?
Can your product or service solve the prospect’s pain points that you exposed in the exploratory process?
Make sure the prospect and you agree that there is potential for your company to solve their problems. You must agree on this to move forward.
Never assume ANYTHING. Ask as many questions as you need to ask to be able to know if this is worth moving forward with the prospect.
Remove the red flags- early and often. If you feel like something is “off” or “odd” or you aren’t getting the answers you want, DO NOT brush those things under the rug. These will pop up later on and you must address them at that time.
The most important thing here is to make DARN**** sure that you BOTH agree that it makes sense to spend more time together assessing your product or service, with the end goal of that assessment process being becoming a customer.
The goal of a truly great exploratory process in sales is to know if it makes sense to spend more time with the prospect in doing one of two things.
Purchasing your product or your service.
Evaluation of your product or your service with an end goal of buying in mind.
If you constantly keep in mind why you are doing what you are doing with one thing in mind, the end goal of a new customer then you will do a better job at all stages of your sales process.
There are many sales tools out there that sales reps can leverage in the sales process. There is one that I know of as a software sales rep that helps in all parts of the sales process. I am talking about before you even ever decide to work a company as a lead, to when they become an opportunity, to when they become a customer or don't buy; there are ways that this sales tool helps a sales rep throughout the whole sales process.
Inbound chat is really a wonderful way for people on your website to reach out to your company without having to pick up the phone. Make sure you have a chat option on the bottom of your site so when people are on your website they can chat in to someone quickly. Having chat on your site also enables someone from your company to ask that person a question like, "can I help you with anything?" or "do you have any questions about what you are reading." It is a great way to start the conversation with a potential prospect and put a human element to it.
I naturally think very "inboundy" about business. That is because I work for the most inboundy company there ever was. We started the movement on inbound marketing and over the years selling our marketing software to mostly SaaS and technology companies I have learned that the transition from a traditional sales minded organization to a more inbound marketing mentality for sales can be tough to swallow and begin.