Today's post is by Ben Taylor, MBA and content marketing manager at Richardson, a global sales training and performance improvement company. Connect with him on LinkedIn.
The sales professional’s virtual discovery call is more challenging than ever because customers’ needs are constantly changing as they respond to the pandemic. Moreover, uncovering these needs from a screen only adds to the difficulty.
As a result, the virtual discovery call must become a precise instrument that sales professionals use to identify and uncover these challenges and determine if their product or service is a fit and can deliver value for customers.
Here we examine what sales professionals need to do during the discovery call to understand these evolving needs, fully grasp the customer’s challenges, and allocate their time to value-creating opportunities.
Develop a Targeted, Three-part Model
Sales professionals face two key challenges on a virtual discovery call: Time is short, and the customer might be unclear on what needs are most pressing. To overcome these challenges, the sales professional needs a targeted approach that can work within the confines of a limited schedule.
- A Questioning Strategy
Sales professionals need to know what they will ask the customer. A funnel approach is helpful because questions begin broad and become more specific as information is revealed. At first, the sales professional’s questions should explore the customer’s core objective and why it is important. Next, follow-up questions should examine how the customer’s current circumstances differ from what they believe is ideal. Remember that questions should not be limited to just the customer’s needs. Sales professionals should also learn the internal decision-making process, timeline, and budget.
- Floating Ideas
After hearing the customer’s responses to the above questions, a sales professional can float ideas—articulating their experience to build credibility, stimulate conversation, and spark a detailed conversation about needs and challenges. By floating ideas, the sales professional engages the customer’s priming bias. With continued exposure, the customer becomes more receptive to an idea. However, the act of floating an idea must be done with caution because the sales professional must first have a full understanding of the issues.
- Check For Additional Needs
By checking for additional needs the sales professional avoids missing critical details that may have been overlooked in the initial dialogue. This step is also an opportunity to help the customer prioritize their needs. Checking for additional needs and understanding priorities all tie to the core skill necessary for the discovery call: listening. The sales professional should spend at least 70% of their time asking questions and listening, and no more than 30% of their time floating ideas.
Prepare for the Virtual Challenges
Some of the most valuable information learned in a discovery call occurs when the customer volunteers information. Trust is a precursor to this event, however, it can be difficult to establish over a virtual interface. Research from social psychologists at Stanford offers some clues on how to overcome this challenge.
Understand Each Buyer’s Role
Trust emerges when there is a clear understanding of the roles within the group. As the Stanford researchers explain, “role-based interaction leads to more rapid development of trust than does person-based interaction.” If the sales professional understands the role of each decision maker, they can address individualized concerns. Increasingly, buying decisions are made by a group of stakeholders. Therefore, the sales professional will need messaging that speaks to everyone.
Engage All Decision Makers
Second, sales professionals must ensure the virtual discovery call engages all of the decision makers. Research in The Role of Trust in Global Virtual Teams, shows “the critical link between communication early in the life of a virtual team and early trust.” Developing trust requires not just stakeholder attendance—it also demands stakeholder’s attention. Success comes from not confusing the two. The presence of a stakeholder in the call does not represent their agreement that the solution has value. Sales professionals can confront this hurdle by asking specific individuals questions rather than presenting an inquiry to the group.
Address Overarching Needs
Third, building trust requires an environment in which individuals in the group become co-dependent. The same Stanford research shows that interdependent groups are another precursor to trust. Sales professionals should adopt this finding by using the virtual discovery call to understand how their solution not only addresses individual needs but also the larger, overarching needs of the organization.
To learn how Richardson Sales Performance can help your sales succeed in today’s setting download our brief: Perfecting the Virtual Discovery Call, or contact us at +1-215-940-9255 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on LinkedIn for more insights on effective selling.
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