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How to Lead a Discovery Meeting

How to Lead a Discovery Meeting

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The Sales Growth Hub welcomes Mike Faherty, Founder and CEO of ProSales Connection, where he will discuss how to get the most out of sales meetings.

Getting the meeting with a prospect is only part of the battle. If you don’t know how to execute the meeting to extract the information you need in order to qualify the prospect and generate a lead, you will not be getting the most out of that extremely valuable time.

In this webinar, we will show you exactly what you need to do in your sales meetings. You will not only get better results, you will look like a rockstar in the process.

The Sales Growth Hub welcomes Mike Faherty, Founder and CEO of ProSales Connection, where he will discuss how to get the most out of sales meetings.

Getting the meeting with a prospect is only part of the battle. If you don’t know how to execute the meeting to extract the information you need in order to qualify the prospect and generate a lead, you will not be getting the most out of that extremely valuable time.

In this webinar, we will show you exactly what you need to do in your sales meetings. You will not only get better results, you will look like a rockstar in the process.

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How to Lead a Discovery Meeting

  1. 1. HOW TO LEAD A DISCOVERY SALES MEETING Mike Faherty- Founder & CEO ProSales Connection, LLC mike@prosalesconnection.com 832-365-0730 x302 Connecting our Client with their
  2. 2. Agenda  What is a Sales Discovery Meeting?  Preparation  Open Meeting  Discovery Conversation  Vision Engineering  Next Steps  Close Meeting  Follow-up Activity 832-365-0730 x302
  3. 3. What is a Discovery Meeting?  The purpose of a discovery meeting is to: Learn their priorities Uncover their challenges Align your solutions to their priorities Qualify the opportunity 832-365-0730 x302
  4. 4. Preparation  Review your notes  Research the company  Research the attendees  Prepare thoughtful and targeted questions 832-365-0730 x302
  5. 5. Opening the Meeting  Start on time  Check for time  Introduce yourself (Sample Opening)  Around the table  Review agenda 832-365-0730 x302
  6. 6. Sample Opening “Thank you for agreeing to spend some time with me this afternoon. I’m excited to learn more about your organization and I will certainly share with you more about our experience and capabilities as it relates to your specific business.” “Before we get started, I’m sure you have some questions about me and our company. We are based in ____ and have been for ____ years. We work with clients like ____ and ____ to help them INSERT VALUE PROPOSITION. I’ve been with the company since ____ and as the ____(title) I’m responsible for ____.” “Obviously, you spoke with ________ on our team last Tuesday and I understand she shared with you some high level information about our company on that call. I met with _______ shortly afterwards and she briefed me on the information you were able to share with her as well. That was very helpful.” 832-365-0730 x302
  7. 7. Discovery Conversation  Getting Started Ask a prepared and well thought out open ended question that starts the discussion in an area that is important to you It should not be a direct qualifying question. You are setting the tone for the meeting and putting yourself in control of the dialog. 832-365-0730 x302
  8. 8. Conversation Starters  Clarify Something “Before we get started, I was reviewing my notes/reviewing your website/reading your quarterly report and I saw that you provide/service/work with XYZ…  Can you tell me more about this?  Can you explain how your group supports this?  Would you mind elaborating on that briefly?” 832-365-0730 x302
  9. 9. Conversation Starters  Qualify the Prospect “Before we get started, I read your profile on your website and I understand your title is __________...  I wondered if you wouldn’t mind telling me a little more about your responsibilities and how you are involved with this area of the business?” 832-365-0730 x302
  10. 10. Conversation Starters  Generic Opening (when something goes wrong and your are not prepared) “Like I mentioned before I will take you through our capabilities today, but I hoped you wouldn’t mind if we started by asking you to give me a high level overview of your business… I find that websites don’t always tell the real story of a business. Would you mind?” 832-365-0730 x302
  11. 11. Keep the Convo Moving  Questions: 5 W’s and H Who wants that fixed? What does it cost the business? Where did the problem start? When does it need to be completed by? Why hasn’t that been changed yet? How have people tried to fix that in the past?  Make it your goal to ask at least two (2) follow-up question to each question you ask.  mike@prosalesconnection.com Subject “Convo” 832-365-0730 x302
  12. 12. Vision Engineering  After you have identified a couple significant problems and fully understand the issues, it is time to start to “engineer a vision” of the problem being fixed with your solution.  Transition to the Solution Conversation Restate the problem(s)  Highlight the 1st problem identified and begin to make possible recommendations based on proven experience and capabilities.  Stay high level and don’t dive into the details  Check for understanding and alignment along the way 832-365-0730 x302
  13. 13. Double Check - BANT  Budget The best sales people don’t shy away from these questions. They ask them directly with confidence.  Determine Authority Identify who in the room or organization has the authority to make the investment in your solution  Need These are the confirmed “pain points” that you have uncovered with your questions.  Timeframe If you have aligned your solution to a funded project or an existing timeline then you simply confirm this.
  14. 14. Next Steps  Secure the next steps before concluding the meeting  Don’t accept “We’ll get back to you.” “Give me a call next week.”  Try to get all the players in the room for the next meeting Technical buyers Critical users Business influencers Financial decision makers  Engage with dissenting voices separately 832-365-0730 x302
  15. 15. Close the Meeting  Finish on time  Thank them for their time  Reiterate that you are confident that your solution will help solve their business challenge(s)  Restate the action items for both sides  Exit “stage-left” 832-365-0730 x302
  16. 16. Follow-up Activity This step is critical to your sales organization’s long-term success!  Follow-up is where the money is made!  Step 1 – Next Day – quick “Thank you” call  Step 2 – 2-4 Days Later – Follow-up Letter Follow-up letter format  Your understanding of their present situation  What they would like their future to look like  How you recommend achieving this desired outcome  Any budget or time-frames that need to be considered  Confirm what you understand to be the decision process  The recommended/agreed upon next steps 832-365-0730 x302
  17. 17. Mike Faherty, Founder & CEO ProSales Connection, LLC mike@prosalesconnection.com www.prosalesconnection.com 832-365-0730 x302– Direct 866-347-9423 – Free

Editor's Notes

  • The purpose of a discovery meeting is to learn about your client’s challenges, issues, and opportunities. It is to uncover what they need to accomplish and to skillfully begin to align your solutions/products to those priorities.

    Before you can prescribe you must first diagnose. While you determine what challenge/opportunity you can best help them with, you are working to identify the key elements of the opportunity.
  • Notes
    If the meeting was set for you by someone else, make sure you have read and understand the notes provided. Ask questions if necessary to ensure clear understanding of the conversation that led to the meeting.
    Research the Company
    Read through the company’s website. Look for information about the leadership team, the products they sell and who they are sold to. You should have a basic understanding of this before the meeting. Don’t make assumptions. Go to the investor section of the company website and see if the quarterly or annual statement is posted. This document usually includes a short letter at the beginning from the CEO that explains recent past performance as well as long-term priorities and vision for the business. It should give you insight into where they are making investments as well. Aligning to the major themes is a sound strategy.
    Research the Attendees
    Use the company website and social media platforms like linked in to research the people that will be attending the meeting. Know their titles, how long they have worked at the company and where they worked before. See if you have any common connections and be prepared to use these connections to build rapport and credibility. Keep an eye out for people that might have a conflicting priority and “stand to lose” if your solution is purchased.
    Questions
    Next, use your research to draft at least 2-3 well informed open-ended questions. You will use these questions to start the conversation in the right direction and you can fall back to these if the conversation stalls and you are feeling the urge to start “pitching” before it is time. Write these questions down and have them in front of you when the meeting starts.
  • Start on Time
    First of all, it goes without saying that you should start the meeting on time. If you are delayed and will not be able to start on time, send an email or call the account as soon as you are certain you will be late.
    Check for time
    It is polite to open the meeting with some friendly chat before launching straight into the agenda, but don’t take too long getting started. In today’s business world everyone is extremely busy, so respect their time. Also, pay attention to the room and the tone and body language of your attendees… this will tell you when it is time to start.
    Start the meeting by thanking the participants for taking time to meet with you.
    Outline your objective and cover your agenda. If you are using slides for this meeting, have an agenda slide prepared. This will put everyone at ease knowing that you will eventually get to your solutions, but first you need to learn more about them.
    If another party has scheduled the meeting, be sure to let them know that you have reviewed the notes and/or spoken with the person that scheduled the meeting,.
    Introduce yourself
    You should start the meeting with a VERY HIGH LEVEL overview of your company and yourself. If you are using slides this should be no more than 1 slide and take no more than 2 minutes. Simply hit the high points. Your name and title and maybe how long you have been with the company. Then about the business:
    Location
    Years in business
    Value Proposition
    Examples of customers
    Around the Table
    Ask everyone in the room to quickly share their name and their area of responsibility.
    Not everyone will have a card, WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN
    Listen for the person that could be threatened by your solution. Identify them and begin early figuring out how to overcome their resistance.
    This step is so important, I once was presenting a solution to a large organization just to find out that the incumbent and my competition was invited by an attendee and was in the room!
    Review Agenda
  • Suggested Opening
    “Thank you for agreeing to spend some time with me this afternoon. I am excited to learn more about your business/organization and I will certainly share with you more about our experience and capabilities as it relates to your specific business.”
    “Before we get started I’m sure you have some questions about me and our company. We are based in ___ and have been for __________ years. We work with clients like ________, _________, __________ to help them solve these common business problems. I have been with the company since _____ and as the _________(title) I am responsible for ___________”
    “Obviously, you spoke with ________ on our team last Tuesday and I understand he shared with you at least some high level information about our company on that call. I met with _______ shortly afterwards and he briefed me on the information you were able to share with him as well. That was very helpful.”
  • Your goal for the beginning of the call is to get the prospect talking. Ask questions, listen and learn. Keep in mind the BANT elements that you are trying to uncover during this phase of the meeting. Ideally you will spend the first ½ to 2/3 of the call listening and learning. Resist the temptation to solve problems or to explain your solution. If you’re asked direct questions, respond briefly and ask another open ended question.
    Getting Started
    Ask a prepared and well thought out open ended question that starts the discussion in an area that is important to you, but is not a direct qualifying question. You are setting the tone for the meeting and putting yourself in control of the dialoged.
  • On the next 2 slides I’ve given you a couple open ended questions that will work in almost any setting. Taking time to prepare questions will set you apart from your competition and your peers.

    The first I call the Clarification question. I’m making sure they don’t miss the fact that I prepared for this meeting. When you show that the meeting is important to you, the prospect starts to believe that it should be important to them as well.
  • When successful, you will have demonstrated that you have put some thought into preparing for this call while uncovering issues or pain points in the business that you can help with.
  • It might be helpful to write the question words in the margin of your notes to help you remember to ask more questions. If you ask 2 or more follow-up questions you will likely learn something helpful that the other person never dreamed they would share in a first meeting with a potential vendor. That is where the gold is!

    Keep the conversation going with Who, What, Where, When, Why and How questions. Try to ask at least 2 follow-up questions. Look for ways to align your solution to existing funded projects or timelines already in place.
    You are not selling yet. Resist the urge to start telling them how you are going to solve the problem. Just keep asking questions and understanding the problem.

    I’ve created a 2-3 page cheat sheet with tons of questions and tips for asking better questions on sales calls. It’s nothing fancy, but if you would like a copy, just send me an email with Convo in the Subject line and I will send it to you.
  • After you have identified a couple significant problems and fully understand the issues, it is time to start to engineer a vision of the problem being fixed with your solution.
    Transition to the solution
    “So, Thanks for sharing that information with me. What I heard was that you have 3 significant challenges today. The first is… The second is… and finally…. As you were discussing your challenges/opportunities with #1, I was reminded of the work we did at ABC client. They were in a similar situation… Does that sound familiar? Working with them, we decided together that we could solve this issue by leveraging our solution this way.”
    Now stick to the pain points you have uncovered
    Get them to acknowledge them as a pain
    Confirm they are open to considering a new solution to resolve.
    Don’t tell them about everything you can do, just tell them about what you can help them solve.

    As you present the potential solutions to each of the challenges you should be checking for agreement and alignment along the way.
    “Does that make sense? Can you see your business taking those steps? If you could demonstrate how an investment would be recovered in 6 months would the business entertain that solution?”

    A lot goes into successfully presenting your solutions during this phase of the meeting. You must understand the problem. Get them to agree that it is a problem. Explain how you recommend solving each problem and quantify the impact of your solution on the business is real terms (This could be an entire webinar alone).
    The impact could be financial like; saving money or generating more revenue. The impact could be personal like; getting a promotion, keeping their job or making their job easier/more pleasant. There could be other quantifiable impacts that are less about the bottom-line like; customer experience or employee satisfaction and safety.

  • If you haven’t answer the BANT questions yet. Circle back to them and try again. Clarify that you understand the details correctly.

    Budget
    Sometimes there isn’t a budget already established. That’s okay.
    Ask a question like… I just want to confirm - if our solution can solve Problem 1, 2 and 3 and pay for itself in less than 2 years your company would be able to invest in our solution with the right approvals, correct?

    Determine authority
    As you are gaining alignment on the vision you are creating for them, you need to be identifying who has the authority to sign off on the investment required to bring that vision to life.
    “Would this be a decision made by this group? Besides yourself who else would be involved in making that decision? Can you walk me through the decision process? When you are ready to sign the contract, can you walk me through that process?”
    Make your case carefully and capture “buy-in” along the way. When you have alignment, move to the next solution.

    Need
    Make sure the challenges or opportunities are confirmed. If they don’t acknowledge the pain, it isn’t a real pain yet.

    Timeframe
    “If you need to grow the business by 25% next year, then you will need these systems in place by the end of this year. Right? It will take us at least 3 months to implement and train your staff so that put us at the end of September. You said your board meets to make decisions on the 5th of each month. So the earliest they could consider the solution would be September 5th, right? So If I have a proposal for your by August 1st would that give us enough time to work out the details so you can present it on Sept 5th?

    Great so we need to start on this right away.

    I’ve just turned a next year project into a right now project by asking questions and understanding the process.

  • Secure the next steps before you conclude the meeting.
    Don’t accept, “we’ll get back to you.” Or “Give me a call next week.” These are deal killers and they slow the sales process down by turning over the power to the prospect.
    “Based on what we have discussed today, it seems like our solutions could be a perfect fit for your business. I’d like to put together a summary of what we discussed today including our recommendations for your consideration. When is a good time for you and (the other decision makers) to meet so that I can share what we have come up with today?”
    “Besides you and your boss, who else should I send this invitation to?”

    Try to get technical buyers, critical users, business decision makers and financial decision makers in the room for the next meeting.
    If one of those decision makers or influencers will be resistant to the change, work to get a separate meeting with them to understand how they will be impacted and help them be a part of the new vision if possible. A power user of a tool or process can kill a deal because they have not been included in the process and are emotionally resistant to change. Find them early. Learn how much influence they have and win them over before the big meeting.
  • Steps 1 – Next Day – Quick thank you call
    The idea here is to call the next morning to say thank you for taking the time to meet. This is a very short call and you should expect to get their voicemail. You simply want to convey your appreciation for their time and summarize the action items that you took away from the meeting. Let them know that an email will follow in the next day. Make sure that if you make this self-imposed deadline you don’t miss it. Don’t start the relationship by missing a deliverable.
    Steps 2 – Day 2-4 (or when you committed to deliver the letter) – Detailed email letter to clarify your understanding and preliminary recommendations
    Letter Format
    This is a detailed letter, but it needs to be succinct as well. Aim for 2-3 pages at the most.
    Make sure your contact understands that it is a “living document” and that they are encouraged to edit and clarify any of the details of the letter.
    In order to cover all of the content recommended above, you may have to make some assumptions. This is perfectly okay, but be sure to acknowledge when assumptions are made and ask your contact to validate them as well. This participation will help you ensure the solution is a mutually beneficial solution.
    Finally, the Follow-up Letter will “chuck the wheels” on the opportunity.
    The letter serves to capture decisions already made and move the deal forward with next steps and increased engagement. It helps ensure that you don’t have to cover “old ground” on your next call and reopen issues that have been resolved. This letter will also serve as part of the agenda for your next meeting. You might consider bringing copies of the letter to the next meeting to review the final draft.

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