Increase your sales while helping your customer improve their results by helping them to think outside of the box.
The discovery process is essentially an investigation; it’s also an art.
While fact-finding questions are important, and when they are combined skillfully with feeling-finding questions (determining what the prospect thinks and feels about the facts being discussed), the prospect will often come to startling and important realizations about their current and future needs.
In other words, they will help you identify and start addressing “the gap”: the space between what the prospect already has, and what they want.
We’ve already discussed Permission, Fact-finding and Feeling-finding questions. There are three more basic types of questions that a Discovery interview should include to ensure the salesperson is identifying “the gap” effectively.
Testing the extremes of the prospect’s current situation will often help them come to the realization that improvements are possible.
This works especially well if you are selling in an environment where the competition already has a foothold in the prospect’s organization.
For example, if you are selling web-based accounting software, and your prospect is currently using “the other guy’s” accounting suite, you could ask,
“What do you like best about your current accounting software?”
The answer to this question helps you gauge what features and capabilities the prospect particularly enjoys and values in the competition’s product. Hopefully, you’re in a position to demonstrate how your product accomplishes the same purposes in some improved way.
Then, you could follow up with the negative counterpart,
“What do you like least about your current accounting software?”
Highlighting the areas where the prospect is least satisfied with the status quo puts you in a perfect position to identify that gap between where they are now and where they want to be. By honestly positioning your product in such a way that the prospect sees improvements compared to what they currently have you begin addressing that gap.
The magic wand question gives prospects a chance to dream big.
Basically, the question asks,
“What improvements would you like to see made if _________ didn’t stand in the way?”
In that blank spot, insert any limitations the prospect has already identified as hindering their journey to their ideal situation. It may be budget, organizational issues, culture, personnel, or even time.
Essentially, you’re asking the prospect to reveal the kinds of wants they may not even have considered voicing before because they feel like they are out of reach at this point.
In your role as expert and advisor, however, you may just know how to achieve that end!
Finally, usually at or near the end of the interview, it’s always good to include one or more catch-all questions that ensure you are not overlooking any of the prospect’s valuable insights.
A good catch-all question could be,
“Is there anything else you think would be helpful for me to know about your operation?” Or,
“Is there anything else I should have asked that I failed to?”
In some cases, even with all the research and mutual effort going into an effective Discovery interview, the prospect could be hoping or expecting it to go in a direction you never considered. When that happens, it’s great to be able to give the prospect the opportunity to get that new direction out on the table, even if it means opening up a whole new section of the interview that you didn’t expect.
At the very least, the catch-all conclusion allows the prospect to verbally confirm that you’ve done an excellent job in covering all the necessary bases because they can’t think of anything else that needs to be discussed.
In the next segment, we’ll talk a little bit about your main role in the interview process. Just a hint: it’s not about asking questions.
Feel free to leave a comment or contact me here.
Photo credit: www.guardian.co.uk