When you’re selling something, the most important conversation is usually with your first customer. You need to have a solid structure for this call and an airtight discovery checklist so that they’ll be more likely to convert.

Getting a prospect on the phone to have a conversation about your products and services is hard. If it doesn’t deliver value right away, you won’t get an in-person meeting or much more than that.

If you want to get an idea of what’s involved in the hiring process, here are some things that I recommend checking out.

There are more than 10,000 brand messages that the average consumer sees each day.

Decision makers are being bombarded with emails and phone calls from people trying to reach them. It’s not as easy as it used to be.

Cutting through the clutter and getting the attention of your prospect requires serious effort. The Online Marketing Institute says that it takes an average of 7-13 touches to convert cold outreach to a prospect willing to get on the phone with you.

Need Help Automating Your Sales Prospecting Process?

LeadFuze gives you all the data you need to find ideal leads, including full contact information.

Go through a variety of filters to zero in on the leads you want to reach. This is crazy specific, but you could find all the people that match the following: 

  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
  • That spend money on Adwords
  • Who use Hubspot
  • Who currently have job openings for marketing help
  • With the role of HR Manager
  • That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
Just to give you an idea. 😀

The “Winging It” Problem on That Discovery Call

You have to research your target prospects using social networks like LinkedIn and Twitter. You also need to personalize the message you’re sending them, which requires a sequence of outreach.

If you get your prospect on the phone, they will only be willing to talk for a few minutes. You need to convince them of your value in those few minutes.

A conversation where you can show the customer your product or service and what will happen if they choose to purchase it.

It’s easy to understand why so many reps try and “wing it” in the first conversation. They don’t have time for an inquisition-style interview, but executives today despise these types of interviews.

It’s frustrating to see that sales leaders are not training their representatives on how to start conversations with prospects. It is proven that the first conversation will lead them into agreeing for a more in-depth meeting.

When salespeople are not trained properly, they fail to make their monthly quota. Marketing thinks the reps don’t know what they’re doing and vice versa.

If Value is not what You Offer, You’re NOT Making the Sale

One company we worked with had a high conversion rate, but it was mainly because they were getting plenty of calls from SDRs and the conversations turned to sales. But when their first call rates dropped below 10%, they realized that something needed to change.

The sales leader was feeling pressure and eventually quit because of the stress, even though they didn’t have enough time to fix their problems.

One reason for this might be the drop in tenure from an SVP of Sales, which is at 19 months now.

discovery checklist

It’s possible that the reason why so many reps are not hitting quota is because they’re winging it without a proven framework.

Prospects who need products and solutions won’t take the next step unless they see enough value in their first conversation with a salesperson. No next step, no sale.

Here are six things you can do to stop the blame game and increase conversion rates in your sales process.

Certify Your Reps A Proven Client Discovery Checklist

Even experienced salespeople need to stay on message during the first conversation.

Old sales techniques like BANT (which stands for Budget, Authority, Need and Timing) are exhausting to prospects because they feel as though they’re being “qualified” rather than listened to or understood.

Have you ever empathized with the prospect?

I always hated having to go through multiple vendors and answering the same questions over and over again.

New salespeople need more than just marketing knowledge. They need to know how they will actually use that information when talking with customers.

Open a conversation

They need to find a framework that they can remember and live in, one with ample opportunity for the prospect to respond.

The first conversation you have with your prospect should present tremendous value and help them see the benefits of moving forward.

It needs to be simple enough for a new or low ranking salesperson. It also has to convert well, so more senior people on the team will buy in and use it.

So, how do you do that?

Once you’ve created the roadmap, it’s important to train and certify your sales reps so that they can execute these conversations in every first call with prospects.

Related: Best Business Phone Systems: 35+ Tools to Keep You Smilin’ and Dialin’

Getting Started on Client Discovery Checklist

Here’s the rule. Before your reps talk about anything other than their product, they should follow this framework.

  • State their goals.
  • Elaborate on their challenges.
  • Tell them what it means.
  • Imagine a future where everyone’s needs are met.
  • Prove you have done it before.

1) State their goals

discovery checklist

As an expert in this industry, your team should know exactly what you’re looking for when hiring someone.

When we talk to sales leaders, they always want us to share how our platform enables them.

“When talking to other sales leaders, it’s easy to understand they want their employees to be happy and work hard while still meeting the company goal.”

This statement immediately positions the speaker as an expert in their field and someone who knows what prospects want.

DON’T: Ask them what their goals are. It makes you look inexperienced and foolish.

Make sure that you write a clear job description.

It’s important to know what you’re signing up for when it comes to a job description. You should always look up the company and position that is similar, so you understand where your responsibilities will lie.

2) Elaborate on their challenges

discovery checklist

When I first began hiring salespeople, my reps spoke with the prospect about challenges they were facing and tried to find solutions for them.

As experts in the space, they can help you with 90% accuracy. You should already know how to best speak to your prospects.

Your reps will be perceived as experts in their field by your customers.

We say something like,

“It’s more difficult than ever for reps to get in front of your A-List prospects, and even if they are successful at communicating high value early on, it can be hard to predict how a prospect will move through the sales process.”

I’m sure that’s not their first challenge, but it is a problem they’re all too familiar with.

DON’T: Please don’t let your reps ask something like, “What are your pain points?” or even worse, “What keeps you up at night?” You should know what’s important in the industry.

DO: Lead with your insight about what challenges people in their role are facing, or should be. Telling them this will help to build trust.

If you want to appeal to prospective employees, do your research and share the findings with them. People are twice as likely run from a problem than they are towards a solution.

3) Tell them what it means

discovery checklist

Scientists have confirmed that people make decisions based on meaning and emotion, so if you want to sell something, it’s important for your salesperson to establish a connection with the customer.

During a conversation, train your representatives to find an emotional anchor point in the discussion. Emotion creates memory and without it they will be forgotten within 24 hours.

In order to create a painful moment in the conversation, your reps need to find out what challenges their prospects are going through and ask them questions about it. For instance, they should elaborate on known struggles and then follow up with “What does that mean?”

If someone can’t hit their sales goals, what does that mean? It means they better get to work on finding a new job.

DON’T: Have a conversation that only consists of facts.

It is important to be able to articulate what the position will entail. Be thorough in your explanations, and make sure you are specific about every detail.

I recommend starting the conversation with questions like, “What are you seeing in your market?” or “How do you see that affecting our company’s future?”

4) Paint a picture of a better tomorrow

discovery checklist

There are different ways of looking at what value is.

The distance between what their world is like today and tomorrow’s potential with your product or service is where they see the value.

But don’t let them just explain what your product or service does. Have them show how it will make their job easier and more efficient.

The Value Positions need to be succinctly stated, in a few short phrases like “What if you could…” or “Imagine if you could.”

DON’T: Spend too much time talking about your company or product just yet. They don’t care and you will lose their attention.

It is important to make clear what your product or service can do for the customer in order to best sell them on it.

When I’ve done my research and know what our company is all about, it makes me feel more confident when telling potential customers that they can only get certain things with us.

5) Prove you have made it before

discovery checklist

Your reps can’t make claims that you don’t have the proof to back up. That would simply be a customer testimonial or story.

But you’re not going to give a deep dive customer service. All your prospect needs to understand is that they can trust you because of what other people have said about you.

That’s how we were able to help reach their goals, which was achieved through our unique solution.

DON’T: Give a detailed explanation of your solution or start with the features.

A good way to do this is by communicating a metric that matters in an easy-to-understand manner.

One way to build up your library of one sentence case studies is by collecting testimonial data at the end of each positive client engagement.


discovery checklist

When you start a conversation with your prospects, it is important to talk about their goals and challenges.

When your reps talk to the prospect about their challenges, they should ask them what that looks like in their world. This demonstrates empathy and helps make conversations more memorable.

When your salespeople tell you what they could do for a customer, their brain is able to sense how valuable it would be.

This is a little cliche, but they finished the article with an interesting story that accurately depicts what you just said.

The result? Your prospect sees that they will see great value by doing the next meeting or demo with you.

We created a checklist for one of our clients to use during discovery calls, which helped them increase their conversion rates from 8% to 47%.

Need Help Automating Your Sales Prospecting Process?

LeadFuze gives you all the data you need to find ideal leads, including full contact information.

Go through a variety of filters to zero in on the leads you want to reach. This is crazy specific, but you could find all the people that match the following: 

  • A company in the Financial Services or Banking industry
  • Who have more than 10 employees
  • That spend money on Adwords
  • Who use Hubspot
  • Who currently have job openings for marketing help
  • With the role of HR Manager
  • That has only been in this role for less than 1 year
Just to give you an idea. 😀
Editors Note:

Want to help contribute to future articles? Have data-backed and tactical advice to share? I’d love to hear from you!

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Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
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