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These 5 Discovery Questions Are Killing Your Calls

A Sales Growth Company
November 22, 2023

Traditional discovery questions are garbage and they’re ruining your sales processes, causing buyer fatigue, and wasting valuable sales leads from the jump.

 

Stop asking these discovery questions

For decades sales reps have been taught to ask, what we call, self-diagnosing questions. A self-diagnosing question puts the burden on the buyer to understand the problems they face and articulate that problem to the seller. These questions send a message to the buyer that the seller does not fully comprehend their business or their selling environment. These questions include:

  1. What keeps you up at night?
  2. Can you tell me what your most pressing problems are?
  3. What are some of the problems you’ve been struggling with recently?
  4. Are there any problems or issues you haven’t been able to solve yet?
  5. Can you tell me about your current business challenges?

Other than being shitty questions, these all share a common trait. They highlight that you, the seller, do not possess a good understanding of the potential problems the buyer could be facing. Sellers should have a deep knowledge of the problems your product or service can address. The key to effective discovery is asking questions that directly target these problems.

Target your questions

Instead of broad, self-diagnosing questions, try this. Let’s assume you sell a product that addresses common challenges within a sales organization. Start the call by asking questions that directly pertain to the problems you can solve. For example:

“What prompted you to take this call today? Do you have any concerns with quota attainment, pipeline development, or other key sales challenges?”

 

Listen and adapt

Listen carefully to the answer and formulate your next question based on what they shared. Let’s assume they express concerns about win rates:

“You mention you’re concerned about your win rates. Could you tell me more about that? What are your win rates? Have they been trending up, down, or staying flat in the last 12, 18, 24 months? How has that affected quota?”

 

Demonstrating understanding

You’ve now demonstrated you understand how win rates affect quota. Again, listen closely to their answer and formulate again. Let’s say they respond with “Win rates have been flat at 15% and we haven’t been able to meet our growth goals of 20% year over year.”

“I see. So, if I understand correctly, your organization has a growth goal of 20% year over year. However, due to the 15% win rate, your struggling to keep up with that target and your quota is in jeopardy, is that right? If so, can you tell me about your top-of-funnel and pipeline creation activities?”

 

Stop interrogating your buyer

This approach is markedly different than the conventional method. It’s designed to foster understanding rather than interrogation. Reframing your questions in this manner gathers valuable information, demonstrates understanding of the environment, AND shows a deep appreciation for the buyer’s specific business challenges and goals.

Gap Selling’s discovery philosophy

This is the essence of Gap Selling. Shifting from self-diagnosing questions to tailored, value-driven questions shifts the responsibilities from the buyer to the seller. The seller can now proactively uncover the problems, impacts, and root causes that their product or service can address.

 

Take the buyer on a journey

The objective of discovery is to take the buyer on a journey. Asking questions that are relevant to their business and challenges positions you as a trusted advisor and not a pushy salesperson. This results in a more effective sales process and stronger relationships with your clients.

The traditional discovery questions that have been plaguing the sales process for years need a revamp. Self-diagnosing questions do not have a place here anymore. Today’s buyers demand a more sophisticated and personalized approach. The principles of a Gap Selling discovery provides value to the buyer that traditional methods missed. Try a different approach and see the positive impact on your sales performance.

 

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