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  • Writer's pictureGreg Meehan

Mastering Discovery Calls: Best Practices for New Salespeople | Part 1

This is gonna be a two-parter because otherwise it’ll be like trying to swallow a handful of vitamins without any water.. Difficult and there’s a high chance you’ll die. 


Part 1 will lay out the foundation of the discovery call and how to prepare for one.

Part 2 will dive into the technical execution of the discovery call. 





Do Not Mess Up The Discovery Call


This is the billionth time I’m trying to write this, trying to make it as least dry as possible, trying to stress the importance of this step, trying to make it a bit more palatable and upbeat, rather than doom-saying the risks of f’king this up. 


But, whether I like it or not, the Discovery call/meet is a (dare I say THE) most crucial step in the sales process. In fact, get this bit wrong and you’ll spend the next few months chasing your tail and trying to figure out why you’ve been ghosted... Or worse still, trying to figure out why when you are coming towards the ‘close’ of the sale you find out you missed a bunch of critical information that prevents the whole thing from happening. 


The Discovery is the first real conversation between a salesperson and a potential client, its your time to shine baby! The main goal is to understand the clients needs, challenges, goals, anxieties, birthdays, favourite sandwich/colour/sports team/ inside leg measurement (OK not this). However, this initial interaction sets the tone for the relationship and can will significantly influence the outcome of the sales process. 


For new salespeople, mastering the art of Discovery is essential for building trust, credibility,  and establishing a strong foundation for future interactions, the information you uncover can and will be used time and time again throughout the client journey (even after they become a client)


Effective Discovery requires thorough preparation and research. Before the call, salespeople should gather as much information as possible about the prospect, their role, and their business. This includes understanding the prospect’s industry, recent news, and key challenges. The level of research and time you spend on this upfront will indicate to the client exactly how much you give a crap about the business, rather than just turning up and vomiting features all over them. 





A Well-conducted Discovery Call = A Successful Sales Journey


So let’s break it down a little here.


Discovery calls are vital for several reasons; but don’t get it twisted, it’s not all about you. This time is the most important for the client to determine if you’re actually any good or not. They are basically interviewing you to see if you’re good enough for the job of solving their problems. So you better show up like you mean business and know you’re sh*t.


On top of this, Discovery will allow you to qualify potential clients by determining whether they are a good fit for your product or service. This saves time and resources for both you and the client by focusing efforts on high-potential projects you can collaborate on.


[For more on this you should check out Mahan Khalsa’s book, Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play]


Additionally, it allows the potential client to see if they can work with your company, test your credibility, collect social proof, and find out more about what you can actually do for them.


During Discovery, with the right methodology and by caring about your customers, you will uncover valuable insights into the prospect’s urgent challenges and goals. This information will dramatically help how you tailor subsequent communications and proposals to address these specific needs and wants. 


A final note here… understanding the prospect's decision-making process and timeline helps you align your follow-up strategy effectively. In essence, a well-conducted discovery call lays the groundwork for a successful sales journey. This can all be tied up very nicely using what’s called a Mutual Action Plan…but, we can come on to Mutual Action Plans in another post! 






Fail to Prepare, You Prepare to Fail


I’ll split this out for you to make it easy to digest. 

This is where most salespeople will doom themselves to failure… a lack of preparation.


Preparation isn’t just about doing a little reading or stalking on LinkedIn so you can chat about the prospects' latest post about how “What my proposal taught me about B2B sales” (If you’re reading this in Q2 2024 that comment will make sense!) 


In no particular order of importance, here's your preparation menu. 


Mental Preparation


  • Prepare to win, you’ve gotta feel it in your bones.

  • Visualise the yes’s, the no’s, the way forward and the next steps

  • Visualise how you will enter the conversation, big handshake? Big HUg? Big smile? Comment on the weather? Compliment on the office? 

  • Visualise all the juicy stuff in the middle

  • Visualise how you will close and exit the conversation

  • What we are doing here is visualising the flow from beginning to middle to end

  • Visualise the excitement of getting to know all about someone else. (they said yes to the meeting for a reason, let's uncover what they may be)

  • Visualise the client gaining new knowledge from you 

  • Feel the client leaving the meeting better off having met you and learned something. 

  • Feel the excitement (but not the expectation) of the potential to work with someone

  • Feel the urge to get curious, not the urge to sell something. 

  • Run your questions through your head

  • Run the common objections through your head

  • Bump the self talk to positivity “you’ve got the skills, you’ve done the homework, you can really help these folks” 

  • Prepare to have some fun! 


Physical preparation


What gets your energy up? And I don’t mean turning up at the meeting in full “RA RA - LETS FKN GOOOO” mode. I mean get your energy to a level into a positive state. That could be:

  • Getting your current favourite song on

  • Getting your posture straight, shoulders back, chin up. 

  • Doing some star jumps (if thats your thing) 

  • Looking at comedy reels to give yourself a rush of laughter

  • Talking to a positive friend, colleague, peer, partner

  • Doing some push ups (if thats your thing) 

  • Planning to hit the gym in advance of the meet (if that’s your thing) 

  • Eating a donut! 

  • Drinking a coke!

  • Having a coffee


What gets you dialled in? 






Do the Damn Research


KYC - Knowing Your Customer (Their role, Their Business) is key to a successful Discovery call. Start by researching the client and their company. Easy stuff… LinkedIn, other socials, their website and their companies presence across different social channels. I also like to check out YouTube and see what they are posting about (product/ service/ brand/ employee recognition/ explainer videos


Look into their industry, recent news, and any specific challenges they might be facing. Look for  resources like Google news, Annual reports, industry reports, Crunchbase, Bloomberg to gather ‘relevant’ information… (Relevant here can mean; relevant to you and what you offer, and also what is most relevant to your client at this point in time, and why you product or service might have relevance now. As much as it pains me to say (because of all the hype and BS thats posted about this right now) this is where platforms like ChatGPT can also be a big help using prompts like “biggest challenges faced by “Your Prospects role” in “their industry” in “their country”. It’s a good place to start and will allow you to structure your continued research around these challenges. 


Understanding the prospect's specific role is crucial. Research their position within the company and their responsibilities. Knowing their role helps you tailor your questions and conversation to them specifically. For example, a CEO might be more interested in high-level strategic benefits, while a manager might focus on practical implementation, then you’ll have the daily operators who care more about the additional workload you’ll create for them (or not). This is why, in a business setting I believe relevance trumps personalisation when it comes to messaging. 


To learn more about Working Specifically with Executives, Managers, and Operators read “Powerbase Selling by Jim Holden, Ryan Kubacki”. 


Next, set clear objectives for the call. Know what you want to achieve, whether it's qualifying the lead, understanding their needs, or setting up a follow-up meeting. Having a clear goal will help keep the conversation focused and productive. Your discovery call will flow like a story with a beginning and middle and an end. Know where you want to get to and work your way back from that end goal

Prepare a list of open-ended questions to guide the conversation. We’ll talk more about the different Sales methodologies in Part 2. 

 

Additionally, be ready, and well versed to share information about you, your product, your service and how it aligns with their specific needs. This knowledge is where credibility is really built. 


I’d like to wrap this up with something important, and a bit more practical for you to consider when going into a discovery call/ meeting…






Habit 2 and Habit 5


The last thing I want you to remember, and to be honest if you only remember these 2 things with regards to Discovery you’re halfway there. 


This in reference to Stephen Covey’s book - The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The older I get and the more I read, the more I realise this book really is an all-time-hall-of-famer of a book. In particular I’d like you to focus on 2 specific Habits.


Habit 2 - Begin With the End in Mind. “[It] is based on imagination—the ability to envision in your mind what you cannot at present see with your eyes. It is based on the principle that all things are created twice. There is a mental (first) creation, and a physical (second) creation.”

You’ll put this into practice during your mental preparation phase


Habit 5 - Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood. “[This] involves a deep shift in paradigm. We typically seek first to be understood. Instead, most people listen to the reply. They're either speaking or preparing to speak. Empathic listening is listening with the intent to understand.”

You’ll feel more comfortable embracing habit 5 if you’ve done your homework and research about the company you are meeting with. 


Hopefully this has painted the picture you need to get yourself setup for your next Discovery call. 


Time to prepare like your livelihood depends on it...because it does.


If you liked this then come back for part 2 will dive into the technical execution of the discovery call. 


Drop me a DM on LinkedIn if you'd like to get some tips on your current process

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