The Discovery Sales Conversation
A follow up of the 30 second introduction
Sales people can be tempted to pitch the features and benefits of their products to prospective clients during the initial 30 second introduction. This approach can do more damage than good. It is best to pitch to a prospect in a scheduled meeting after introductions have been made.
The meeting you pitch to a prospect is called The Discovery Conversation. This meeting has four main objectives:
- Qualify the prospect.
- Differentiate yourself from competitors.
- Build rapport and a relationship of trust with the prospect
- Identify the particular specifications or requirements they need regarding the product or service to be sold
Qualifying the Prospect
Qualifying a prospect means asking questions that tell you if the client is right for your company or not. Below are some questions that should be answered during the discovery conversation:
- Does the prospect have a problem or need your product or company can resolve?
- What is their level of urgency of this problem? If the problem is not severe enough they will not be very motivated to make a change.
- Do they have the budget to work with your company? Pitching is great but if they can’t afford what you have to offer it is a waste of time for both parties.
- Are you talking to a company decision maker? Talk to both decision makers and those who influence them. These are the people that make things happen. If you are talking to a company gatekeeper, get to the decision makers as quickly as you can or your efforts will be wasted.
Differentiating Yourself from Competitors
Many sales people think their company is the only one that provides “quality service” and “the best price”. They are wrong. Every sales person is saying the same thing about their company. The prospect has heard it all before. The only way to differentiate yourself from a competitor is to teach the prospect something they have not heard before. The sales person is an expert consultant. Experts are paid top dollar to help companies understand new, and more effective, ways of doing business. This is what a sales person must do. Share an insight that leaves the prospect saying “I never thought of it that way before” or “How have we missed that all these years”. When sales people teach a prospect a new way of looking at their business they bring value, and position themselves as experts in the market place.
Bonding and Building Rapport with a Prospect
Building a good relationship during the discovery conversation is essential. You must be able to:
- Listen and read people
- Understand body language and other nonverbal cues
- Understand the different personality profiles
Sales people must become expert chameleons. Chameleons are able to adapt to their surroundings. Sales people must learn to adapt to different communication and behavior styles. Learning how to do these things will help you communicate with prospective clients and build a strong relationship with them. You have to show them you are not superficially selling a product. Helping people resolve a problem or fulfil a desire alters the deal from a superficial, to an emotional level.
Throughout this process pitch your product to the prospect using the 70-30 rule of communication. Through your questions to the prospect and explanation of the product, you should talk 30 percent of the time. The Prospects questions and answers should be 70 percent of the conversation. As a sales representative you must make sure they have all necessary information to analyze and make a decision about your product; but your focus must be listening to the prospect to determine if they qualify to work with your company.
Each industry has its own unique requirements. Custom home builders need to know the dimensions of the home they are building. Screen printers need to know the size, color and quantity of the shirts they are printing on. Equipment dealers need to know how the machine will be used and for what purposes. During the discovery conversation the sales person will need to ask all of the rights kinds of questions to fully understand the technical specifications the prospect needs. The good news is, most sales people are well trained in this sort of thing by their companies. Product training goes a long way to accomplish this.
By the end of the Discovery Conversation you should know if the prospect has high potential for a deal or not. Normally, in high complexity sales there is a need for a bid, estimate or proposal. Ask the prospect if it makes sense to take the next step and put a proposal together. If the answer is yes, prepare a bid and send it to them. Give the prospect time to review the information. Set up an appointment to meet with them after they have had time to review the information. Ideally, the third conversation is when the bid is reviewed, questions are answered and the closing takes place. Following these steps during the second, and Discovery Conversations, will help sales people set themselves up to close in the third conversation.
To learn more about improving your selling skills visit Hansen Group Company’s website at hansengroupcompany.com or call us at 208-346-1005.