When the sales team has the right product knowledge, they will be much more successful. Which means they sell a lot more of your product.
This starts from the first call with the prospect. If a sales person asks the wrong questions during that first call…
… then even a good prospect can turn into total loss.
But, ask the right questions …
… and the chances of closing them go way up!When the sales team has the right product knowledge they can sell a lot more of your product. Click To Tweet
For a good sales person, the goal of the first call, often called the “discovery call,” is understanding the prospect’s pain, in detail. The more they understand about the prospect the more likely they are to close the deal.
In this article I show you how to take what you know about the problems your product solves and turn it into tools that enable sales to blow out their numbers. (This is the fourth installment in my ongoing series about better go-to-market and the leverage that product managers have on sales success. Read the previous articles here: Sales Team Missing Quota? It’s Not Their Fault, What Successful Companies Do To Get Better Leads, and A Better Approach To Demoing Can Turn Sales Around.)
Starting in the discovery call and continuing through the rest of the sales process, the prospect wants to hear certain things:
Those are the prospect’s goals. How do we help them achieve those goals?
Perhaps counter-intuitively, the best way to reassure the prospect that we understand their problem is to ask good questions. We need to surface the specific challenges and concerns the prospect faces:
Then the sales person can talk about how we address those challenges, and schedule a demo to show how we address them.
Perhaps your product is a project management tool that’s particularly strong in resource management. The sales person might ask “How do you manage resources on your projects? Do the project managers have the authority to assign resources?”
Why use this question? Since we have product strengths in that area, we know in advance that a prospect with that problem will get a lot of value from our solution.
That means it’s not just a discovery question, it’s also a qualifying question. If the prospect does not have resource management problems, then maybe they aren’t a good fit for our product.
On the other hand, if the prospect is a good fit, then we’ve shown that we understand one important part of her problem.
How do you come up with this list of good questions for sales people to ask?
As the product manager, you understand the types of problems your solution solves. You can use this knowledge to give sales good questions to get at those details. For example, if the sales person just knows that you have a project management solution, then they are only going to be able to ask about projects at a generic level. (For example, “How many projects do you have?”)
But with better sales enablement from product management, the sales person can know how to ask about “resource management in the context of projects.”
There’s one more piece of power information that you can provide for the sales people to use during a discovery call. This is examples of customers who have solved similar problems with your solution.
Let’s put this all together in a sample conversation.
We’ll take a look at the portion of the call related to resource management:
Sales person: “How are you managing the assignment of resources to projects? Do project managers have the authority to do that, or does that need to go through the resource’s managers?”
Prospect: “Oh, that’s definitely one of our big challenges right now. We have a weekly meeting with all the project managers and all the resource managers to get agreement on who is assigned to what project. We keep the data in a spreadsheet. The fact is the spreadsheet doesn’t always get updated, and sometimes there are multiple copies, so there’s lots of ‘I thought Jim was assigned to my project, it says so right here, but he thinks he’s working on something else!’ and that kind of thing. And of course those meetings just take a lot of time, which contributes to everyone’s frustration.”
Sales person: “You know, we hear that a lot. Our customers have found that our resource management capabilities have really helped them out in this area. Would you like my team to show you how we address resource management in a demo next week?”
Prospect: “Yes, that would be great. I’d love to get out from under these stupid meeting and have all that happening in a system of record. It would make my life much better!”
The sales person has established a lot in this interchange:
All in all, a lot of power in one little bit of discussion. And this can be done for several different key challenges during the discovery call. (For example, you might provide some questions to explore if the prospect has challenges presenting project status information to the executives.)
How do you make use of these ideas?
Asking better discovery questions can make a big difference in sales effectiveness. But there’s one more step that will accelerate things even more. Using this information to present a killer demo that’s totally focused on the prospect’s problems can make a giant difference to your sales success. That’s the topic of the next post in this series on how product managers can help the sales organization beat quota on their products.
For more on the structure of good discovery calls, I highly recommend Dan Smith’s article on The Anatomy Of A Perfect Sales Call.
Your host and author, Nils Davis, is a long-time product manager, consultant, trainer, and coach. He is the author of The Secret Product Manager Handbook, many blog posts, a series of video trainings on product management, and the occasional grilled pizza.
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