The Danger of Assumptions on a Discovery Call
Based on my observations, I’ve uncovered a dangerous move by Account Executives when running discovery. The problem stems from assumptions.
To put it another way, you assume that the prospect clearly understands the value of your company’s product or service and the problem it is solving, and that the prospect is therefore on the phone with you to solve that particular problem.
Usually you still ask the prospect questions such as: “Why did you take the call?” “What problem are you looking to solve?” But because you assume you know the answer, you accept surface-level answers from the prospect without question.
This is dangerous even if your assumptions are correct. Why? As a salesperson, you should always dig into surface-level responses. Not wanting to speak about the “obvious” is a big mistake. If you never ask about the extent and degree of a prospect’s specific problems, you miss out on creating urgency (the magic of a sale).
If your assumptions about what the prospect is looking for and why for are incorrect, the problem is even bigger. Accepting the prospect’s surface level responses has multiple potential negative consequences:
You come across as thoughtless and uninterested in the prospect’s company and its concerns (maybe resulting in a lost sale).If the prospect in fact is not an ideal target, you never realize it (because you never asked the right follow-up questions). You continue badgering the prospect after a lost cycle, wasting time and money and losing out on valuable market intelligence.If the prospect is an ideal target, but not for the reasons you thought, you miss an opportunity to message your product differently and in doing so, perhaps win the sale.
The morale of the story is: don’t assume.
Ask probing questions, even if they seem obvious. Especially if they seem obvious!
The point of the discovery call is to listen to your prospect’s view on what their problem is, what outcome they’re looking to achieve, why they need to achieve it, the consequences of not achieving it, and how they’re looking for your product or service to help them do so. Don’t let your preconceptions about the prospect’s company or needs get in the way of a successful sale. I’ve said this before: Discovery is not for you to better understand your prospect as much as it is for your prospect to better understand themselves.