When the competition is stiff, preparation — and discovery in particular — plays a critical role in the ultimate success of your presentation. While much information about a company can be found on-line, the best source of information and greatest payoff potential comes from having a conversation with key people within your prospect’s company.
Ask for a discovery conversation.
So go ahead and ask. It’s a reasonable request to ask for input from those within your prospect’s company who can shed light on the situation. It benefits not only you, but also the prospect. After all, gaining a better understanding of their needs shortens your presentation time by allowing you to provide a more accurate and precise recommendation and get to the point quicker.
In a competitive market it’s unlikely that you will be the only one asking your prospect questions to prepare for your presentation. How can you set yourself apart in the discovery process if you are the third or fourth vendor doing the questioning? By using discovery to not only find out key information, but also to plant seeds to help you gain a competitive edge.
5 things you must do in your discovery call
- Gather insights. Each question is an opportunity to gain insight around a prospect’s experience, expectations, and preferences. You’re looking for anything that can give you an insider’s view. That may include information on how bad the problem is, what’s at stake for the company and the employees and why they need to make a change. The answers you receive will help you to tailor your presentation to fit their needs and expectations.
- Define impact. Impact is key with today’s decision-makers. It’s critical that you find out how the current problem affects the organization and quantify it if at all possible. This will help you address cost and value with metrics to back it up.
- Speak their language. Every company has their own buzzwords and acronyms. For example, do they call their salespeople “account executives” or “business consultants”? Do they refer to “customers” or “clients?” Instead of expecting the prospect to learn your language, make the effort to learn theirs and try incorporating some of their terminology into your presentation to build your credibility.
- Create anticipation. Discovery is not the time to make a full court press, but you do want the prospect to get off the phone with a sense of anticipation about your presentation. Statements like, “It sounds like you could really use the extra time to focus on your new responsibilities if this were resolved quickly” can set expectations early. Aim for subtlety and be careful not to slip into a sales pitch.
- Build rapport. Asking questions isn’t just about getting answers. You have a prospect on the phone or in person, why not use this valuable time to strengthen your relationship and create some early interest going into your presentation? You can achieve this by really listening — not making assumptions or finishing your prospect’s sentences for them — and showing empathy. You’re talking to real people about real problems. Taking a moment to express appropriate emotion can go a long way toward establishing rapport. For example, “Wow, that sounds really frustrating” will make your prospect feel validated and may get them to open up more.
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