7 Deadly Discovery Mistakes

Here are the 7 most common mistakes we see over and over.

March 7, 2022

The Discovery Call is the most important conversation in almost any sales process and yet so many salespeople and business leaders are missing the boat. If you take this part of the sales process seriously, the wins will come far more frequently. If not, you will constantly struggle to obtain a healthy close rate

As I have led sales teams and we have assessed sales operating systems at Altezza, here are the 7 most common mistakes we see over and over.

  1. Going tactical from the jump - This is the worst mistake you can make but so many people do it....instead of beginning the conversation by building rapport and trying to understand the needs of the prospect, you jump right into what you do or what your product does. Can you hear the person on the other end of the camera asking"why should I care about this?" Even if they don't say those words out loud...and few will.....that is exactly what they are thinking when you do this.
  2. Following a script - It's totally cool to have a scripted group of questions to ask people in discovery but too many people just follow the script without deviation.They don't drill down with additional questions to truly understand the prospects needs, pains and frustrations. They just ask the question, check the box and move on to the next one. Prospects sniff this out immediately and realize that you don't genuinely care about them...you're just going through the motions.
  3. Drawing conclusions too soon - OK, we've all done this. We hear someone describe a problem in basic terms and we immediately diagnose the situation and start recommending solutions. We fail to drill down and fully understand the nature of the problem, what happens when the problem isn't solved and what it possible if it is.Whenever you're tempted to do this, STOP....and ask more questions! You are highly likely to learn that something is going on which is completely different than what you thought.
  4. Failure to understand the decision process - Every human is unique in how they view the world and how they make decisions. This is true of organizations as well.Assuming that everyone's decision process is the same is a fatal sales flaw that will lead to more losses than wins. Your discovery call should absolutely include some questions about whether the prospect has ever purchased a product or service like yours before and what that process looked like. Then, ask them if they will do it the same way this time. You'll learn a lot about how things are going to work on their end and how you can support them most effectively.
  5. Creating no emotional triggers - You know that most people make decisions based on emotion right? While there are definitely a few cyborgs out there who care only about data and logic, most people are experiencing some sort of emotion as an outcome of the problem they are trying to solve. It could be any one or more of the deadly six emotions (fear, anxiety, anger, depression, guilt, stress). If you don't identify these root emotions and tell a story about how you help your customers overcome them, you miss a HUGE opportunity to cement your value proposition. Sure, you will still need to help your prospective customer justify the decision with logic and data but it's emotion that will drive them to a more timely decision.
  1. Lack of Brand Promise clarity - Once the discovery conversation shifts to what you do and why it matters you must be absolutely clear about what's unique about your brand and why it matters. This can also be called your Unique Value Proposition(UVP) and we are constantly surprised about how clarity around this disappears once we start talking to someone other than the Founder or CEO. This is essentially the core expression of your vision and purpose. Be sure you talk about it in every staff meeting. Repeat it over and over until you are sick of hearing yourself say it.That's about the time it begins to stick with the people who are listening.
  2. Ignoring a lack of alignment - When we are trying to grow our business, it's really easy to say YES to a new customer who isn't a good fit. The need for revenue overrules our best judgement and it leads to frustration on both sides. It is much better to say NO to a bad fit and miss out on the revenue.....I PROMISE!!! The wrong customer can damage your team, your reputation and your brand. Be absolutely confident in what your ideal client looks like and don't allow anyone in who doesn't fit that persona unless you are confident that they want to look and behave more like them. In that case, if they are teachable, you can make a huge difference and gain a lifelong fan.

The Discovery conversation is absolutely the most important step in your sales process.It's way more important than your awesome product or one-of-a-kind service. In my 25+ years of sales experience, this is where I see potential deals die most frequently and that pattern continues today with many of the companies we assess and evaluate. If you do only one new thing this year to strengthen your sales strategy, take the time to assess this part of your sales process. If you can avoid these mistakes, you will be amazed at the impact it can make on your close rate. And, if you determine that you current approach just can't get where it needs to be, let's talk!

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