Sales Discovery Best Practices
Sales Discovery Best Practices

Sales Discovery Best Practices

12/21/2012 by Larry Salvatoriello
A quick breakdown of some of the best practices for the sales discovery process.

The discovery process is one of the most important piece of a sales process.  Whether you are a one man show or part of a team, how you manage the discovery process can mean the difference between a closed won and a closed lost sale.

There are two key pieces to discovery, one is efficiency and the other is knowledge and they go hand and hand.  The goal is to collect as much information in as efficient a way possible.  The more knowledge you have, the most prepared you and your team will be to serve the prospect you want to win.  Considering the wealth of knowledge available these days, it is also critical to have the right tools at your disposal to minimize the time spent collecting this info so you meet another goal which is talk to as many prospects as possible.  Here is a list of some best practices along with some tools used to make your discovery process efficient and successful.

The Pre-Meeting
The first thing you should do when presented with a new prospect is take action.  Send a quick note to the contact person introducing yourself and request a time to have a meeting.  This gives shows you consider them important and that you are on top of things.  As you wait for their response, take the extra 5-10 minutes and start logging information about them.  Start by entering their information in your favorite CRM and don’t stop at the basic contact info.  With the internet today, you are presented with a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips and use that to your advantage.  Go to the prospect’s website for some info on the company and also check-out sites like Linkedin to get some info on the person or persons you will be meeting with.  Gather as much as you can and enter that into your CRM tool.  Once you have done that, it is now time to create an outline for your meeting.  I would suggest using a tool like Google Docs for the collaboration features but any electronic notepad will do.  Setup how you want the meeting to go with a basic outline with agenda items and questions you want to ask.  If this is a referral put in any notes that the referrer gave you for reference during the meeting and also to keep everything in one place.  Once you have all this setup, you are ready to meet and all you need to do before the meeting is review what you set up.

Discovery Meeting
As the meeting approaches, make sure you review your notes. In addition, make sure anyone else that might be with you has access to your notes and has read them beforehand.  Our best practice is to work in pairs.  If you are working a discovery meeting solo, you are taking on a lot of responsibility with having to present and take notes.  This can remove you from focusing on the client especially if you are in-person and that is by far the most important thing you should be doing.  While working in pairs use a tool that allows for collaboration.  Here is where Google Docs is great.  You can be presenting and watching the person taking notes in real time. They can provide instant feedback to you on how you are doing or also answer a question that you might be stumped on.  Last thing to point out about the meeting is make sure you ask as many questions as possible and do not be afraid to talk about money.  Knowing where a client stands in the process will help manage your expectations for the sale.

Foundation for Success
The discovery process is directly related to how well prepared you are.  The more you know about the prospect, the better you will be able to meet and exceed their expectations.  If you set that as a standard for your process you will always be in the best position to land the deal.  To get more bang for your buck, use the tools at your disposal to minimize the effort and keep you well  organized.  Do this and you will be ahead of the game.

If you would like to discuss this further please feel free to tweet at me at or comment below.