How To Be A Pro At Asking Discovery Questions

Mark HolmesSales strategy, Selling value, Value Proposition

*Read time: 1-2 minutes

The top-producing sales reps master discovery questions that lead to their company’s differentiated value. When reps are effective at discovering a buyer’s value drivers along with any unrealized needs, it benefits them at all stages of the sales cycle.

When reps are not good at discovery, they pay for it throughout the competitive stages of the purchase.

Being good at discovery requires being a good strategic thinker. Knowing where you want to guide the customer and what you want them to conclude or feel about your solution, is essential.

Sales reps who ask well-intentioned questions but cone them up on the spot, will probably come off sounding like their value proposition is too much like (Sameness Selling) the competition’s. Mental laziness toward the discovery phase will result in failing to effectively differentiate solution value – and that will cause buyers to lump such reps into the commodity coffin. And when this occurs, they can trapped into competing on low price.

You can be highly effective at asking discovery questions with a few guiding principles:

  1. Know where you want to end up – know the conclusions the buyer must reach and the feelings they must have toward your solution if you are to win the business. B2B sales is both a cognitive and an emotion-based decision and you should be asking questions that touch on both realms.
  2. Invest ten to twenty minutes before each call to develop questions. Focus on the wording and the tone. Think about how the question will come off to your prospect. Is there a better way to ask what you want to know?
  3. Fit the question to the customer’s industry or business, but also tailor it to their position. In other words, don’t pose a question to a C-level or senior decision influencer that sounds like a staff person should be answering instead. For senior executives, ask questions that focus on strategic issues and business outcomes. For a lower-level decision influencer ask questions about steps, tasks, budgets and timeline.
  4. Have alternative questions ready. Give some thought to your follow-up questions if the person answers one way versus another.
  5. Use proven questions, but don’t sound rehearsed. Even good questions can come across robotic or survey-like. It’s best to wordsmith each question until it fits the client and sounds like you are dialoguing on a relational level.

If you want more tips on how to structure questions that lead to your differentiated value, I recommend you check out The 5 Rules of Megavalue Selling.

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