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Discovery is the most important step of the sales process since it is when the customer gives the salesperson a roadmap that helps him or her clearly understand the best products to present. Rather than being overwhelmed by the number of products in the portfolio, a good discovery process makes selection a more straightforward task. Discovery also builds trust that the salesperson is acting in the customer’s best interest and has a desire to understand the customer’s challenges and present the most suitable products. The four purposes of discovery are:  

  1. Uncover the Dominant Buying Motives: What time-bound need or opportunity will be met (or not met) if the customer does not accept your solution. Without urgency, the motivation to buy is very low. 
  2. Find the Problem: What is road blocking customers’ current success? What have they tried unsuccessfully in the past? What is their expectation of a reasonable ROI? What happens if they do not address their challenges or meet the new opportunities presented to them? 
  3. Find Past Objections: A good discovery will uncover previous objections to sales efforts or past media solutions that did not work. This gives the salesperson the opportunity to address these issues before they can be raised later. 
  4. Allow Self Discovery for the Customer: Many times prospects really do not know what they need, and it is in discovery that they will reveal to both the salesperson and themselves what they need and how best to position products and services. The discovery process may be the first time the business owner has organized his or her thoughts about business marketing needs.

The discovery approach should lead the customer through a logical process to capture these critical bits of information tied to value, ROI, business needs, previous approaches and urgency. Many times when salespeople struggle with poor closing rates, poor discovery is the cause. Lacking adequate discovery, the salesperson often struggles to present a logical solution to the customer. 

When a salesperson has multiple products he or she could be presenting, discovery provides a clear indicator of what products are most appropriate given the customer’s needs and budget. Deeper discovery gives salespeople more confidence in selecting appropriate products rather than reverting to presenting every product or “the latest new products” to see what draws the customer’s interests and attention. Discovery creates the roadmap for creating the recommendation and it gives the salespeople confidence that they are presenting the strongest case for why the customer should buy.  

If your sales team has given short shrift to the discovery process it may be time to go back to the basics of asking better questions and demonstrating how good discovery provides a great chance of satisfying the customer and closing the deal.

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