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Most people in sales would agree that discovery in B2B sales is the top critical factor in your success. When you look at how most salespeople do discovery, you find few sales reps who create value for their prospects. You also don’t see them put in a lot of effort to prepare for a discovery call with a new prospect.

You and I live in the Information Age. We can easily access more information than ever. One problem is there is so much information that it's difficult to choose what might improve your results.

Imagine two salespeople are calling on a brand new prospect, we might do discovery differently. One salesperson does nothing to prepare for the important sales call and instead plans to ask the client about their problem and their pain points. The risk of this approach is that the client recognizes the salesperson is no different than their competitors.

The other salesperson would start preparing long before the meeting. They believe that discovery is important enough to start learning about the client, their company, and their industry, so they don’t wait to begin. After doing the reading and the research, this salesperson has a set of insights with the potential to create value for their new client and improve their own results.

Five Problems of Not Preparing for Discovery

There are at least five problems that occur when you start your discovery too late, but you can avoid all of them with preparation.

Making the Buyer Educate You

It is important that your client educate you because you are One-Down when it comes to understanding their company. However, you should not need your decision-maker to teach you things you could easily learn on your own. This not only wastes everyone’s time, but it also encourages the client to perceive you as unprofessional and unknowledgeable.

Don’t embarrass yourself by asking questions you easily could have discovered the answers to on your own. Spend the time to do a Google search.

A Lack of Strong Questions

Those still using a legacy approach will believe the questions they need relate to the client’s problem and pain points. Both you and your contact are aware they have a problem. When you must ask about the implications, it can cause some decision-makers to believe that you lack the business acumen to help them.

When you are professional enough to do discovery before meeting your prospective client, you can build a list of questions that more deeply explore their company and their industry. These stronger questions create more value while also proving you did your homework.

An Inability to Tie to Your Client’s Initiatives

One group of salespeople contacted a large, well-recognized company. When they reached a decision maker, they explained all the ways they could help the giant company. The call ended abruptly and the salespeople were unsuccessful. Had they spent 25 minutes reading the company’s annual report, they could have tied their solutions to each of the company’s major initiatives, which would have helped them establish credibility and get the decision-maker’s attention.

You can prevent most problems in sales by taking action earlier. In this case, doing the reading and the research would have helped this group of reps succeed on their first attempt.

A Lack of Insight and Experience

Let’s assume you are calling on a new prospective client in a certain industry. You go in cold, having done no research. You are oblivious to the industry’s headwinds and tailwinds, so you can’t ask questions about them.

In 45 minutes, you can call two or three salespeople who have already won clients in the same industry as your prospect. You could ask your peers what kind of problems these companies had and what strategic outcomes they were pursuing and why.

No Differentiation

It can be easy to forget that we are competing for the client’s business. To create a preference to buy from you instead of your competitor, you must be different in a meaningful way. Here at thesalesblog.com, we describe this as creating value.

When you know things your competitors don’t know and provide your clients with a better sales experience, you can differentiate yourself from the rest of the salespeople your contact may interview. You could easily learn much of what you need to know before your discovery call.

The Value of Your Discovery

By starting your discovery by researching and reading about your contact, their company, and their industry, you can develop a better plan to create value for your client. You also show up with questions you could only know to ask because you did your homework, including clarifying questions that allow you to prove you are not the average salesperson.

You Start Discovery Too Late

If you start discovery when you sit down across from your client, you are too late. You are better off by reading and researching with the rigor your modern sales approach demands and deserves. The more you know about your client’s company and their industry, the easier it is to ask strong questions that clients find valuable.

When you start early, you can avoid the problems of making the buyer educate you on things you could have learned on your own. You also improve your questions, making them much stronger. You also prove you have insights and experience to share in a sales call. Starting earlier will allow you to differentiate yourself and make your discovery more valuable.

Leaving this article, plan to research and read what you need to provide your contacts with a discovery call that is a better conversation than any other salesperson will provide. In the future, you must be an expert to win deals. If you wonder when this future will require this, you are already living in it.


Post by Anthony Iannarino on August 24, 2023

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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