There is no doubt you have all learned from your sales training that in the Discovery Phase you “discover” a buyer’s need. Sure, that is kind of obvious. Unfortunately, what many salespeople discover is the prospect’s wish for a better price rather than the need to change suppliers. If you think of it, many are not getting even close to what prospects really want. Potential buyers do not need another salesperson asking the same questions they’ve heard before from your competitor sales rep. What they do want is Trusted Advisors able to let them discover something about themselves. And that is a lot more exciting!
In the traditional Discovery Phase, salespeople make the crucial mistake to assume that their prospect still has the same needs they had when they bought the solution and services from the incumbent competitor. In other words, they assume that not much has changed with the prospect’s business. In fact, it’s the opposite.
To survive and prosper every business needs to always be on top of changes that are happening around them. Consumer demands have changed, technology is changing, and new regularities need to be dealt with. Their competitors also never sit still and unexpected market opportunities are popping up regularly. Running a business is dynamic. Businesses with the ability to react to these changes fast and effective are always more successful. They benefit from these changes rather than have to deal with negative impacts.
In the new Discovery Phase, top salespeople are able to talk about these changes and ask their prospects questions on how they deal with these changes. In that way, you help your prospect discover how well they are prepared to deal with all the changes around them. Questions like:
- What are your plans to be more competitive in the near future?
- What are your focus improvement areas right now? Or in the next six months?
- Where does the needle need to move and by how much?
- What has changed in your industry that drives the need for these improvements?
- What are the risks to your business if you do not adapt to these changes?
In the eyes of prospects, there is no ideal supplier. Everyone has flaws and many prefer to find a workaround to deal with these flaws, rather than changing to something they do not know. In the new way of selling your task is to get prospects to challenge their own status quo. You need to feel comfortable with asking the challenging type of questions. And these questions turn out to get the answers you need to craft a solution the buyer would be really interested in buying.
To create such situations you need to change a few sales habits. Instead of having your focus on understanding solution criteria, turn your attention to the real challenges your prospects face:
- Where and what should our next growth come from?
- How can we increase market share in current markets but also in new developing markets?
- How can we manage our costs better? Have we explored all options?
- What should our optimal B2C business model look like?
- Are there trends from eCommerce trade that are applicable to B2B?
- If so, what do we need to change to take advantage of that?
- Where in the world is our next competitor?
They may not have the answers to all these questions, but the sales conversation transforms into a business conversation. You are no longer seen as another sales rep but more as someone who can advise on where the prospect’s challenges intersect with what you sell, and how that would benefit the potential customer’s business.
The new discovery phase is a lot more exciting. What stops you from implementing it today?
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