The 10-Step Discovery Call Framework
As a one-on-one sales coach for tech companies, I have the opportunity to observe how salespeople actually conduct sales calls (not how they say they conduct sales calls — there’s often a big difference).
Based on my observations, I’ve developed a very simple Discovery Call Framework that can apply to any consultative sales conversation.
Introduction & Time, Purpose of the call, Reason for taking the call, Describe and Twist, Need Development, Implication Development, Share & Ask, Answer Questions, Navigate Toward a Demo, Buying Process.
Feel free to email me at Charles@SalesShare.Net with any questions.
1. Introduction & Time
“Hey Bob, Mike Smith here at XYC Corp.”
“Hi Mike, how are you?”
“Great, how’s your day going?”
Chat for a bit…
“Bob, does this time still work for you?”
“Yes, it does.”
“Great, and just so I know, do you have a hard stop at 2:30?”
You want to know how much time you have to conduct this conversation. If it becomes clear that the prospect has less than the allotted time and they realize they have to cut it short, have the confidence to reschedule it.
2. Purpose of the Call
“The purpose of the call, Bob, is to provide one another with some context about our firms and see if there is a potential fit to work together. If you see value in this conversation, next steps would be to have a demonstration with yourself and the appropriate people on your team. If you don’t see value in this conversation, we can part ways. Does that work for you?”
This sets the agenda for the conversation, as well as what happens after the conversation, so that everyone is on the same page and there are no surprises. Helping your prospect understand the process early on in the discussion also increases the probability of them pursuing next steps if they see value in the conversation.
3. Reason for Taking the Call
“Great, just curious, what compelled you to take this call?”
“Just curious” is a conversation twister, allowing you to ask your prospect a question during almost any point of your conversation. Your prospect may have a really bad reason for taking the call, such as “I don’t know, I’m just seeing what you guys gave to offer.” This at least helps you to understand what you’re dealing with. Ideally, however, your prospect will tell you exactly what problem they’re trying to solve, and make your job that much easier by showing you where to focus your conversation. Listen intently to your prospect’s answer and ask curious questions when warranted.
4. Describe and Twist
“Thanks for the color, Bob. For some context about us, we…”
Briefly describe your company and solution….
“So that’s a bit about us and where we might be able to help you.”
Now that you’ve explained what you’re about, you can direct the conversation toward your prospect.
“Just so I can tailor this for you specifically, I’d love to learn about your process around…”
“Just so I” is another conversation twister and allows you to ask a question prior to talking about yourself. This gives the prospect a chance to talk more — which is something every salesperson should strive for during the discovery call.
This ‘question-statement’ is your first high-level question. It serves not only to help you understand how certain things operate on the prospect’s side, but also establish credibility by indirectly showing the prospect that you are aware of how his or her industry works.
5. Need Development
“Thank you Bob, that was very helpful. So, for context, firms like yours want to speak with us when the feel they have any one of the following problems.
They feel like they’re missing out on…They feel like they’re losing a lot of money because of…They feel like their competitors are doing better in…
Curious which of these might resonate with you?”
The purpose of this exchange is to provide insight to your prospect, while simultaneously bringing up potential problems your prospect might have. Presenting specific problems gives your prospect a moment to think about the problems they’re aware of, but also provides them with the chance to evaluate whether their company may be struggling with additional challenges they hadn’t yet articulated (or weren’t planning to share).
“We have problems with…”
“Can you tell me more about…”
This where the real discovery begins. As your prospect is sharing their problems, listen intently, and show your curiosity through specific follow-up questions. This also includes recapping what they have shared at the end of this specific section of the conversation — show them that you are listening.
6. Implication Development
“For additional insight, a lot of the firms we speak with have also shared that these issues have important consequences such as missed opportunities and loss of capital. Curious what resonates most with you?”
The purpose of this exchange is to provide insight to your prospect while simultaneously bringing up potential implications of the problems you discussed in the “need development” portion of the call. This question encourages your prospect to think more clearly about the implications of their problems and creates urgency for your product. As mentioned above, listen intently to your prospect’s answers and show your curiosity through specific follow-up questions. This also includes recapping what they have shared at the end of this specific section of the conversation, showing them that you are listening.showing them that you are listening. Once you feel like you fully understand your prospect’s needs and implications, move to the sharing section, below.
7. Share and Ask
“Thanks for sharing that information, Bob. You’re reminding me of a client of ours who struggled with similar concerns, and since we have been working together, has been able to accomplish XYZ. So that would be one example of how we might be able to help you.”
[Silence – 5 Seconds.]
The purpose of the silence is to let your story sit with your prospect, allowing them to think about what you just shared and how it could relate to them specifically. It also gives them a chance to ask any questions.
“What questions might you have for me?”
The purpose of this exchange is to not only share how you have been helping other based on what they shared with you, but also give them a chance to ask you questions. All this time, you have been gathering information from them; now is their chance to gather information from you.
8. Answer Questions
“I was curious about…”
The purpose of this section is to allow your prospect the chance to ask you more specific questions about your firm, and how everything works. Answer the questions!
Once you feel you have either provided enough information, and/or feel that not every single question could be answered without further conversation, begin the next section.
9. Navigate Toward a Demo
“I really appreciate all these questions and I am sure you’ll have many more as we speak further. The challenge is, you won’t really be able to fully understand how we can help you until you see the product for yourself. Just so I know, if we can help you with accomplishing XYZ, would there be reason to speak further?”
“The challenge is” is another conversation twister which allows you to move the conversation to the next stages in a natural way.
“Great. So typically form here, we normally schedule a demo so you have a better understanding of where the value could be. Would it make sense to gather the appropriate people on your team for the demo?”
This gives you the chance to move toward next steps and see who else will be important in the decision-making process.
10. Buying Process
“Great. One last thing, Bob. Assuming you love the demo and you want to work together, what does that process look like on your end?”
This helps you understand early on how long the sales cycle could be and provides you with information to help plan your strategy moving forward.