A recent article asked the question: "How much would you pay for a discovery meeting with your dream client?" What makes this question interesting is that it suggests the salesperson is receiving something of value and not the other way around. The mindset here explains why so many salespeople have a tough time winning deals, something I tried to correct by explaining that the critical factor in the sales conversation is creating value for your prospective client.
A better question for salespeople, sales managers, and sales leaders is: "What should your dream client have to pay to acquire the counsel, advice, and recommendations you provide them in a discovery call?" Another way to say it might be: "What is your advice worth?"
The Value of a Discovery Call
The value of your discovery call is one of the variables that determine whether you win or lose a potential opportunity. The more your discovery call is valuable for your client, the more likely you position yourself to move forward in the conversation. A conversation a client doesn't find valuable is one that is going to end with you trying to follow up, desperately emailing and leaving voicemails, attempting to gain a second meeting your client is avoiding because they didn't find the first conversation valuable.
Let's agree that the value of the discovery call can be measured by asking two questions: 1). How much better off is your prospective client when it comes to making a decision that will improve their results? And 2). What is the value of your advice to your prospective client in time and money?
The Low Value of LowValue Conversations
The problem with most discovery calls is that the salesperson spends too much time trying to create relevance by sharing information about their company, their clients, and their solutions, followed by a series of predictable questions about the client's problem. Unless you believe the most important thing your client needs to know to make the right decision is how good your company and your product is, this approach is not going to score you any points, and it is certainly not something your poor, suffering contact is going to be willing to pay for.
Asking a prospective client about their problem, one of many they are already aware of is mostly an attempt to position your solution. And how could it be otherwise, when you have a solution that needs a problem to be of any value? Asking questions about the client's problem and their pain is not something that causes the client to discover something, nor does the legacy approach to a first meeting.
Value Worth Paying For
If you want to understand the difference between the value of a modern sales approach and the legacy approach to discovery, it is that the client is the one discovering. Instead of only answering the same set of questions every other salesperson asks, the salesperson provides information and insights that help the client discover something about themselves, the root cause of their poor results, and what changes they might need to make to improve their results. If these outcomes sound to you like something you might expect from a consultant who is paid for their counsel, you now know what "consultative selling" actually means.
The greater your ability to explain why your client is not able to produce the results they need, the more you provide your client with an understanding of the nature of their poor results. The ability to identify and replace their false or outdated assumptions, the more you provide your client with a clear view of their reality, helping them to recognize their need to change. Your advice about what choices your client needs to consider and how best to weigh certain factors to ensure they succeed in improving their results is valuable, as it prevents your prospective client from failing or making things worse.
The Value of the Conversation and the Value of Your Solution
The value you create inside the sales conversation is not the same value your product or solution provides your client. The value of the conversation is separate from whatever it is that you sell. A consultative approach is one that provides a conversation that should be more valuable than the solution itself, and if that statement bothers you, please let me explain.
Even though you believe what you sell is better than any of your competitors, the truth is that they are almost certain to be able to produce a similar result, if not quite as good a result as you could generate. The value of the sales conversation is that it provides your client with a way to assess their options, selecting a partner who will produce the best result for them. The short version is what would it cost your client to make a poor decision, one that caused them to fail, to lose time, and forces them to start over.
While it is difficult for some to recognize the value of the sales conversation, the counsel, advice, and recommendations that provide the client with an understanding that leads to the best decision is value worth paying for, as many companies pay for the advice the consultant provides.
Increasing the Value of Your Advice
One easy thought experiment is to pretend that your role in a discovery call is that you have nothing to sell other than your advice and your counsel. At the end of the conversation, your client will be better prepared to improve their results, even though they'll have to buy a "solution" from someone else, as you only provide your counsel. What should your client have to pay for you teaching them how to improve their results?
In B2B sales, it pays to be consultative because the experience that feels like consultation creates value outside of what you sell while causing your contacts to prefer to buy from you, ensuring they choose to buy from you.
How much should your client have to pay for your advice?