By CHRIS BENNETT
There is one step in the sale process that has a disproportionately large impact on whether your sales team makes a sale or not. Can you name it?
It’s the discovery meeting or the first meeting with a new prospect.
Why is the discovery meeting so important? Because there’s no other step in the sales process in which the salesperson can accomplish so much in so little time.
Accomplishing a lot in a short amount of time adds tremendous efficiency and effectiveness to your work and is the key to sales gains, productivity gains and lowering the cost of sales.
What can a salesperson accomplish in the discovery meeting if he is on his game?
A sales rep who is on his or her game can accomplish all of that in roughly 60 minutes, whether they are in B2B sales or B2C.
In order to crush one’s numbers and improve the quality of the customer experience at the same time, a salesperson has to master the discovery meeting. What is the key? The answer lies within the word itself… discovery.
The key is developing the ability to ask specific types of questions, in a specific sequence and aimed at gathering very specific pieces of information.
There are at least five different types of questions required to master the discovery meeting. (And I’m not talking about open or closed-ended questions.)
If your salespeople can master this questioning skill and ace their discovery meetings, they will:
I had one customer group of sales engineers increase their sales funnels by 325% and their closing rates by 125% in less than six months by mastering the discovery meeting.
In my 24 years of sales experience, 18 as a trainer and coach to many of the Canadian Fortune 100, whenever I see a sales organization unhappy with its results it always tracks back to the way they mishandle the discovery meeting.
Here are some of the ways sales pros sabotage their own success in discovery:
See the trend?
Without a practical, structured questioning methodology (written questions on paper) to use as a framework for discovery meetings, most salespeople sabotage their own success by talking too much.
Solve the real problem
If you’re not happy with your sales team’s results, the odds are high that their questioning skills protocol for discovery meetings is off kilter. There is no wiser, more cost-effective, practical and impactful place to invest training time and money than in learning how to master the questioning skills for the discovery meeting.
Yes, product knowledge, prospecting and presenting are important. But the discovery meeting is more important. A salesperson can’t even get to presenting and closing if he strikes out in the discovery meeting.
If you want to grow sales and customer satisfaction/loyalty scores dramatically higher this year – refocus and refine your team’s discovery meeting questioning skills.
Chris Bennett is President of Vancouver, British Columbia-based Peak Performance, a sales training provider.