It’s impossible to be a professional salesperson and not go through the sales discovery process. This refers to all actions the sales agent takes when qualifying a prospect and deciding if his or her company can resolve a problem for the client.
While research, referrals, and training are essential to the sales process, learning to ask the right questions is perhaps the most important of all. With a new year just days away, salespeople should take the opportunity to consider if they’re asking questions in a manner that builds or repels trust.
Make the Sales Discovery Process More Focused on the Customer
Sales presentations in the past typically involved an agent arriving for an appointment with a pitch already memorized. It included how the product or service would improve the customer’s life, case studies from previous customers, and trying to impress the prospect with his or her knowledge.
The problem with this approach is that it’s entirely focused on the salesperson and not the customer. To make more meaningful connections in 2019, sales representatives should focus on the following in their sales discovery process:
- Get to know the customer as an individual as well as his or her company, position, and industry.
- Envision the transaction entirely from the customer’s point of view and try to come up with a list of potential problems.
- Connect with the customer after taking the time to complete the first two steps.
- Demonstrate value to the customer by confirming why he or she wants to take a certain action and how the salesperson’s offering can meet that need.
Achieve Greater Success with Sales Discovery Calls
A customer-centric mindset also applies to phone calls. The salesperson making the call should know that it isn’t about him or her but rather about the prospective customer and what the sales agent’s company can do for him or her. The most successful calls begin by building rapport and spending much more time listening than talking. This enables the agent to understand the prospect’s pain points better and then offer a value-filled proposition.
It will be necessary to conduct research before making the call to determine the name of a contact person, the company and industry, and specific problems the contact may have that the salesperson can address. The call should always end with establishing a timeline for the next contact.
Keep a Helpful Mindset for the Entire Sales Discovery Process
The sales process can sometimes feel tedious when agents primarily rely on following a script. Approaching each transaction as if it’s a two-way street can change this way of thinking entirely. The sales representative should feel like he or she is there just as much to provide information as to receive it.
Asking open-ended and thought-provoking questions forces the prospect to consider current problem areas and how the product or service presented by the agent could improve or resolve it. Engagement is vital in these transactions, which means the salesperson should know how to tell a good story that the prospect can envision as his or her own.
While qualifying the prospect is always the goal, it’s equally important to look at the big picture. Building rapport and trust as early in the sales discovery process as possible makes it more likely to achieve this goal sooner rather than later.