Have Diagnostic Discovery Conversations First

The etailinsights eCommerce Data and Sales Blog

posted by Darren Pierce

Sales Hack – Have Diagnostic Discovery Conversations First

preschool

Ahhh, this preschool is just right

Tip o’ the cap to Goldilocks.  I’ve become an expert on child cares, nannies, pre-schools, and everything in between.  Primarily because my son Julian has unique needs regarding care.  Last month my wife went back to work, and we simply placed Julian into the most expensive school, thinking “well I guess this is the best we can do.”

Wrong.

That school turned out to be a disaster including a final comment from my son, “The teacher pushed me.”  True story!  My 2 year old son is very advanced verbally.  In fact, on the way out of the school he told the owner that he doesn’t like her school.  Nice shot son.

So, I dropped everything to learn about schools and find the best possible situation for Julian.  We settled on the [name edited] school.  Not only does this meet his needs and hit all the checkboxes, but I was blown away by their Director.

When I arrived at this school for my scheduled tour, most everything was typical procedure, she showed me to their library where I sat and waited.  She then entered with a pretty white branded folder full of all the information I needed (i.e. their “product”).  She handed it to me and sat down. This was very standard from the dozen of schools I visited.  

But then she did something unique, amazing, and even shocking.  She looked at me and said: “Tell me about Julian.” 

I was caught off guard.  Going through the motions, I figured she was going to walk me through every document in the folder.  I had thought “time for the demo.”  Instead, she kept asking me questions to uncover the ultimate pain, i.e. why we took him out of his current school.  Not the initial reason (teacher pushing), but the real reason. She kept asking questions until she uncovered the real pain: Julian has separation anxiety.  

We then opened the folder, and went through the demo.  But here’s the kicker – she tailored the pitch around what I cared about, Julian’s separation anxiety.  I don’t care about peanut allergies, nor the nap time, so she skipped over all that.

We can learn a lot from this and incorporate into our SaaS Sales calls, having diagnostic discovery conversations will lift your close rates.  They allow you to be diagnostic, uncover pains, then prescribe solutions during your demo.

Sales Hack:  Have Diagnostic Discovery Conversations before your demo

You might remember a previous hack discussing the power of silence in sales conversations.  It’s also important to ask the right questions prior to silence.  Those who are the best at this are doctors, and I learned this technique from Scott Addis.

Doctors typically know what’s wrong with you before they enter the room, but they still start with top-of-funnel questioning. Based on your answers, they narrow down the questioning to get to the true pain. From there, they prescribe the solution, you walk out and follow the prescription.

Imagine the opposite, what if a doctor walked in and said “You have a sinus infection, take this medicine, see you later.”  Or worse, what if they talked for 30 minutes about the chemical make-up of the medicine (i.e. a product demo)?  That would never work. We don’t care. We only care about them understanding our pain.  We will take whatever solution the doctor prescribes.

It’s also important in your discovery conversations that you uncover the true pain.  It’s often not the first thing they tell you (Julian being pushed), rather it’s deeper (Julian’s separation anxiety).  So keep pressing.  Don’t open up the folder until you know exactly what the pains are.  Then you can tailor your demo around those pains specifically.  Afterward, prescribe your solution with confidence, and your close rates will skyrocket.

Bonus Hack:  Work backwards. Make a list of the top 10 pains that result in the purchase of your solution.  Then get very good at asking open ended questions to uncover these pains (hint: don’t ask yes or no questions first).  Practice with a team-mate. Practice performing your demo differently for each of the 10 pains.  Don’t move on to a demo until you have at least one of these pains uncovered.  Remember, don’t tell them their pain, have them tell you their pain.  Make them feel comfortable that you are going to make it better, and it’s all going to be ok.

And if you have any questions about early childhood education, bring em on : )

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