Richard Smith, Co-Founder – Revitalise the Cold Call – Refract – Sales Confidence

Okay so I’m gonna do the the famous show of hands who here gets involved in sales calls in one vein or another? Thank God for that!

Right so I’m gonna be talking about discovery calls here today. Something that’s quite actionable for I think anybody in this room. Here at Refract, we’ve got the benefit of listening and analyzing tens of thousands of these things, so hopefully I’ve got some good insights today. So let’s talk about discovery and why I think it’s important, in my opinion discovery is the single most important stage of a sales process, it’s where deals are won and lost and actually when I look at the most elite salespeople, they’re the ones who can do discovery really well, and so I thought what I do is define what I believe to be discovery in the sales process. So the definition that I’ve got is the stage in the sales process where a salesperson can learn and identify how they can best add value for a prospect in order to warrant a further investment of time. 

So let me just break that down a little bit. First of all the stage in the sales process: all too often I see salespeople try and mash discovery into other parts of their sales cycle, commonly the demo. What happens is discovery gets diluted, demo gets diluted, and essentially the the discovery conversation becomes an effective. Discovery should in my opinion is a completely isolated stage of the sales process full stop.

Secondly where a salesperson can learn and identify how do we learn and identify, we do that by asking great questions, great questions been the pinnacle of effective discovery conversations. In order to warrant a further investment of time, taking someone with a discovery call does not mean that they should become someone who we should demo to, good discovery should be as much about qualifying prospects out of our funnel as well as qualifying them in. As one of our customers refract Cory Bray in America, once famously said my very best closing technique is discovery. 

So here’s some tips and tricks from me on having more effective discovery conversations. First of all stop believing these old wives tales that we should never ever ask these awful closed questions that’s just completely wrong, we should lead with closed questions and follow the open questions when we ask closed questions it often allows our prospects to select the option that we want them to select rather than giving us the answer that we still wanted to give. Here’s a great example Mr. VP of Sales when I speak with other VP’s of sales and scaling SaaS companies, they tell me commonly they’ve got one of the following two challenges, number one they’re frustrated at how long it takes to get new hires up to becoming top performers, number two they’re frustrated that so much of their business is being closed by so few people in their sales team. Which one of those are you bumping into the most? So there’s my closed question what happens is the prospect then selects option A or option B, brilliant, what I then say is follow up with the open question okay you said option B, can you tell me more about that? There then elaborate on the pain that they’ve selected I’ve had to ask hardly any insightful questions there but my closed question has led me to the place I want to be.

Point number two the question, can you tell me more about that salespeople come to me all the time and think of that they’re stressing and trying to think of the perfect intelligent discovery question to ask on their discovery calls when actually the the purpose of discovery is just to get our prospects to talk more, so how do we get our prospects to talk more? We just simply ask them to talk more can you tell me more about that often what happens when we ask that question is prospects will happily elaborate naturally on the the pain that they’ve informed you of, and we’ll get much more insightful answers than asking these clever questions, and you know the best detectives on TV shows are excellent asking this question, tell me more about that, what do you mean by that they get the answers they’re looking for.

Tip number three active listening this is one of the hardest skills for any salesperson to master, and when I say active listening I mean intrinsically listening to the specific words, the nuggets that our prospects are saying, and how they’re saying it and most salespeople will hear an emotive word used by a prospect, smile that they’ve got a great answer and move on to the next question. When you actively listen to what your prospects are saying you’re listening for the nuggets where they’re saying things like yeah that can be challenging, or yeah it’s quite frustrating or hmm that sounds interesting. The best thing to do is to grab onto those emotive words and actually ask more, you said that sounds interesting, what is it about that that’s interesting you. When you ask those questions prospects well naturally reveal more so actively listen for those nuggets and you’ll have more effective conversations.

Number four the power of the pause, is often quite useful for improving active listening skills. I tell my salespeople refract to count to two or three in their head after a prospects finished talking, now most salespeople hate silence, they will fill silence with words and so they don’t like doing it, but what happens when we stay silent after our prospects finish talking is the prospect goes again the the prospect doesn’t like silence, they will fill the silence with more words they’ll give you more information than you’re initially looking for, so get comfortable with long pauses. And often I found that when you just sit in silence after a prospect’s giving you quite an uncomfortable answer, they’re stewing it more, it builds up that kind of intensity and that’s where we find our pain builds.

Finally number five the choice of words and language we use, and I’ll break this into two parts first of all the words that we shouldn’t use: filler terms everyone has a filler terms, everyone knows what their filler terms are, they’re basically useless words that we use to fill in conversations, but the wrong filler word at the wrong time can make or break a sales call. Just imagine some examples here if a doctor gave you some pills and said oh I think you’ll be okay, the word think, shit! And if you’re on a plane and the pilot says we should be landing safely in the next half an hour the word should just kills that, and thirdly you know if you’ve got Teresa May saying when we’re when we leave the European Union hopefully we’ll be okay, that would hopefully useless but suddenly change the dynamic. So what words can we use to have more positive conversations? I’ve chosen three that I’m happy for you to all take for yourself that I use quite often. The word imagine imagine such a powerful word for storytelling and it often makes the prospect think of the future heaven that you’re going to give them, and puts themselves in that in that position so you know I’ll say something like Mr. prospect, imagine if I was a new salesperson coming to your team and I had access to this solution, how do you think I would feel? Imagine such a key player on people’s emotions and makes them think of that of that happier place. The word relevant this is a great one instead of using the phrase does that make sense? Which I hate that question people salespeople ask does that make sense all the time and what happens, they get the answer yes from the prospect useless instead of asking does that make sense. How relevant is that, simply just turning that the question by user asking how relevant will get your prospects elaborating more will tell you will get you more synergy in the conversations. And finally a word that I probably use too much is the word fair. Why do I think this is so effective people don’t like being unfair. Prospects and natural inhibition is to find a fair outcome, so think about how you can incorporate this in the proposals that you make. Example, Mr. prospect if we agree to this price, would it be fair if we had this sign off today or Mr. prospect would it be fair to get your boss involved in the demo, if we found us a good if there was a there was a good fit on this call today. Prospects will always naturally agree saying yes they don’t like being unfair they will choose the fair option you’ll get more outcomes that you’re that you desire.

Finally we have some really good resources like checklists for discovery calls, also some really interesting data on effective discovery conversations that we’ve collected over time. So if anybody wants access to those just give me a shout my email address is on the the flyers on your chairs and a yeah we’ll send that out thank you. 

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