Artful Discovery involves more than simply gathering requirements. Instead, Discovery should represent a collaborative process where we help expand our knowledge about the prospect’s Need, Buying Process, and Desired Results
Personally, I consider Discovery to be the most important part of the sales process because it establishes a context in which we can add real value. I wanted to share with you one of my very simple (but very important) techniques.
The two most important questions you can ask in any discovery conversation, particularly if you are bridging from a previous discovery conversation
1) What do you recall (or what stands out?) from our last conversation?
2) What is new and different in your world since we last spoke?
When I ask a prospect what stands out from our last conversation, I am acknowledging I am only a small part of their world. As such, they may or may not remember a lot about our last conversation. Knowing exactly what they recall helps me bridge the conversation. That is, pick up in the right place or fill in the gaps.
It is important to anchor the conversation we are having now using their perception of the previous meeting rather than our own.
The second question is important because selling implies dealing with a situation in constant motion. Your prospect has not been sitting at their desk staring into space and pondering what you discussed last week. They have been living life. Perhaps they have experienced changes in their personal life. They certainly have experienced change in their professional role. It’s important to know these things.
On occasion, I have found out late in a conversation that the contact I have been working with has been moved (or will be moving) to a new role. Trust me this is something you want to learn in the first five minutes of the conversation rather than after you’ve presented for an hour and a half. I’ve also uncovered positive information such as an upcoming promotion or the existence of a new corporate mandate aligned with my solution.
The point is this. Selling is a profession of service. We must understand our prospects environment completely in order to serve them effectively. Placing their perspective at the front of the conversation demonstrates a respect for them that will differentiate you from the hoard of vendors simply waiting for their turn to speak.
By Townsend Wardlaw