Missing Key Details in Your Discovery Calls? Try this simple exercise

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“I just had the best discovery call!”, shouted one of my reps as she burst into my office.

It was 10 days before the end of the quarter at my third start-up. Demonstrating growth with each sales period was critical. The crew was hustling but like most revenue operations we had a bit more revenue ground to make up before the final buzzer sounded.

“Really?!?” I responded with enthusiasm. “Tell me about it”. “Well…” she began, stumbling to catch her breath, ”he’s a sales manager at this software company and he loves what we’re doing. I think we can even get a deal done with him this quarter!”. “Amazing!” I said.

I then proceeded to ask the rep a series of follow-up questions about her discovery call.

“Did the customer articulate a time-frame he wanted to be up and running with our solution?”

“Did he share insights into the magnitude of the problem he’s experiencing and how long it’s been going on?”

“Did you talk about the purchase approval process at his company and how he could get a deal done in the next 10 days?”

“What about pricing and budget?”

“Oh…” she said with a bit of a sheepish look on her face. “I didn’t really get any of that.”

“I see then”, I said. “So it kinda sounds like you had a friendly conversation with a polite man who liked us?”.

“Shit! Yes…that’s about right”

If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Discovery calls, while critically important, can be deceptively complicated. The problem is, like any customer-facing interaction, if you go into a discovery meeting unprepared (which we often do) you’ll end up staring at pages of notes that yield no helpful insights for moving your deal forward. Not to mention having it be a colossal waste of time for both you and your customer.


Uncovering Critical Insights

One of the reasons we take tons of notes in our discovery calls but don’t leave with the insights we were looking for is because we didn’t go into the call being clear on what we wanted to know in the first place!

Or more specifically, the key pieces of information we needed to know in order to determine if and how to progress the opportunity.

I call these critical insights.

Never fear! Here’s a simple exercise to help ensure you always come out of your discovery calls with the critical answers you seek. It’s about preparing for your call with the end state in mind.

Imagine your discovery call has concluded and you’re looking down at all the amazing notes you took.

What insights would need to be on that page in order to call the discovery a success? In other words…


Step 1: complete this sentence:

“If we don’t leave the discovery call with details about _____________, then the call was a failure”.

Step 2: look at your list of needs and order them from most to least important.

Step 3: formulate a list of questions and narratives that help you uncover those insights and aim to work through them during your discovery call.


Three additional tips to help you along here:

  1. Discovery is a team sport: to help build your sales engine quickly and consistently, it’s helpful to ensure that this list is discussed, shared, and curated across team members. Having each team member craft their own interpretation of this list is counterproductive.
  1. No polite interrogations: Remember, discovery calls are conversations! Don’t show up and bombard your customer with your questions.
  1. Create the right setting: just because you have questions doesn’t mean your customer will answer them! Going into your discovery calls with the right mindset and creating the right setting for your customer to open up is just as critical.

Conducting high-value discovery is critical to the success of your sales operation because it helps move business through or out of your sales funnel. But if you feel you’re leaving discovery calls without the critical answers you’re looking for this simple tip can significantly help keep you on track!

Here’s a bonus video illustrating this approach


Looking for more insights to help conduct high-impact discovery? Check out my discovery resources here and the Discovery playlist on the Cerebral Selling YouTube channel.


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