Closing sales with new business prospects can form the foundation of a productive, long-term relationship with your new lead. Establishing commonality between both parties is an important first step because it creates initial expectations and clarifies everyone’s needs. Discovery meetings are one of the many tools available to establish contact and trust with a new lead. In this article, we discuss what a discovery meeting is and share nine steps to running a more productive discovery meeting.
What is a discovery meeting?
A discovery meeting is a gathering that includes representatives from a business or sales team and a potential client. Discovery meetings help the seller determine what services or products a lead requires and how their business can help. The discovery meeting allows both sides to learn about each other, including how their businesses function, what their goals are, and what long-term value each company offers.
How to run a discovery meeting
Running a productive discovery meeting ensures that both sides get the right information and new leads feel respected and valued by the company that’s pitching to them, which can help establish trust and encourage a favorable decision. Here are nine steps to running a more productive discovery meeting:
1. Create an agenda
An agenda is a written or digitized outline of the meeting. An agenda helps the salesperson prepare necessary materials for the meeting by describing the flow of topics. Typical agendas include information like:
Date and time of the meeting
Concepts to be discussed
Timeline of the meeting’s major themes
Pertinent questions about the new client’s needs
Time slot for post-meeting questions
More than just an outline for your meeting, an agenda is also a sign of respect for the new lead. Using an agenda shows your new leads that you value their time enough to maximize efficiency. This initial gesture of consideration can increase your brand’s professionalism and create an atmosphere of mutual respect between you and your leads.
2. Focus on pain points
Pitching your products or services to a new client means that you’re addressing their “pain points.” Pain points can be specific challenges your product addresses for the customer, such as the need for high-speed internet or special software.
Your business should try to meet the company’s needs, so it’s important to learn as much as possible about their major concerns. Ask them to describe what their challenges are and how they’d like your company to address them. This helps you better understand the lead’s motivation and determine if your business can meet those short- and long-term needs.
3. Ask questions
It’s important to ask questions throughout the meeting to explore new topics, clarify discussion points, and gain a deeper understanding of your new customer’s needs. Consider asking questions about the details of your customer’s challenges and their budget. You can also ask about their company’s values or mission to ensure they align with your own and that you can work together cohesively.
4. Leverage your expertise
It’s important to leverage your expertise by focusing on what you know about the products, the industry, and the customer’s concerns. Describe how your products or services make a difference in the industry and why you’re the best choice. Consider what you offer that the competition does not.
Hearing from an industry expert can help ease a lead’s concerns. Sometimes, customers may not be able to identify their primary challenges or how a specific product or service can help, but they understand that they’re facing a unique challenge. Your in-depth knowledge may be the deciding factor for them.
5. Present your offer
Your offer describes your potential solution to the customer’s problems. Once you establish mutual respect and understanding, you can deliver a solution that both matches their needs and leverages your brand’s best qualities. Describe what solutions you offer and detail their costs and how they can help the customer. For example, if your customer needs time management software, describe how long it might take your development team to create it, focusing on their skills and your company’s available tools.
6. Discuss costs and challenges
Explore your new customer’s needs in terms of financial cost. Consider if your cost offer reflects the quality of your business’s work and aligns with a customer’s budget. As you learn more about your customer’s needs, the cost of a project can change accordingly. Setting a mutual cost agreement early in the project can help move the project along and keep prices adjustable when necessary.
Consider asking your customer to allow you to draft an initial estimate that can change as the project’s scope develops. You can focus on price points for the project as a whole and at specific intervals. For example, the price may change during the production phase if a material becomes difficult to acquire.
7. Ensure commitment from prospects
Some prospects are ready to commit to working with you after your discovery meeting and some need more time. Ensuring commitment from the prospect helps your business plan for incoming projects and helps create the foundation of a relationship. Once a lead expresses interest, you can discuss the project in more detail by drafting an agreement, requesting a down payment for services, or drawing up plans for the project timeline.
8. Set clear expectations for the next steps
When a prospect is certain about their decision to work with you, it’s important to set clear expectations for the next steps. A discovery meeting can show you and the prospect how you can benefit one another, but after the meeting, action occurs. Consider listing the next steps in the process and scheduling a follow-up meeting.
You can also learn what your prospect would like to see in the coming weeks. Exchange contact information, establish an outline for the incoming projects, and determine the method of payment for your products or services.
9. Know when to diverge
When values, budgets, or concerns don’t align with your company’s mission, it’s beneficial to diverge from that prospect and move to the next one. This helps keep the lead conversion process moving and saves time. Politely inform your prospect that you think there is not a productive match between you. You can recommend another brand to best serve their needs. This helps keep things professional and respectful.
Tips on what to ask during a discovery meeting
Asking the right questions during a discovery meeting helps ensure the meeting’s progress and efficiency and allows you to maximize the learning process about your prospect. Here are some tips on what to ask during a discovery meeting:
Consider the prospect’s pain points
Ask questions that thoroughly explore the prospect’s concerns so you can better understand how your brand can help address them. The more you understand about a prospect’s needs now, the fewer questions or concerns you may have later. This also helps you establish trust as you demonstrate interest and engagement.
Keep questions short
Questions that are short and concise can have a more potent effect and produce a higher-quality response. For example, consider the question, “I see that you’re facing challenges. Can you tell me when those challenges began, how you want us to help, and what your ideal outcome is?” A better approach might be to say, “Upon reviewing your request, I see that one of your major challenges is project management. Can you describe this challenge?” Keeping questions concise and specific opens up more focused conversations to gain more insight.
Ask about budgets
Understanding your prospect’s budget can help you determine if you’re the right person for the job. Ask about the company’s budget for new projects and compare it to your current rates. Discover how the budget might affect the resources you can allocate to specific projects.
I hope you find this article helpful.