Best Sales Teams Avoid Causing “Discovery Fatigue” (and Don’t Say “Discovery” to Prospects)

There is a noticeable pattern in SaaS sales. After a prospect registers to see a Demo of the SaaS product, an SDRs follow up on that demo registration will email you back and ask to schedule a 30-minute “Discovery Call”.  I believe there is a real “Discovery Fatigue” happening because many sales reps are not coached well on executing the discovery process effectively so I wanted to write about this as I feel that this is a problem and any effective Sales Professional should know how to avoid it.

First of all, modern authentic selling is about creating or adding value to the prospect.  For instance, my definition of B2B Sales is: “Selling is creating value for your customers by helping them to solve their problems and providing them a Return on Investment (ROI).”

The typical start to a sales process in B2B SaaS is to use “Discovery Calls” to understand the prospect’s situation first and determining if the prospect is a fit for your SaaS product.  This is important and it is necessary. But there is a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it.  The wrong way is over-indexed on the sales rep’s needs, not on the prospect’s needs.  Thus the wrong way focuses on creating value for your SaaS sales – not really focused on helping your prospect.  This means taking up 30 minutes of very valuable and busy time of the prospect to ask them questions and, as I’ve seen, it makes the process feel like a form of lite interrogation done by sales.  If your instant thought is that you also don’t want to waste the time of your sales reps on an unqualified opportunity – that is very true and I agree but that’s not the optimal first thought to have.  You need to approach this from a different perspective and you will still get to do the discovery and the qualification that is necessary but in a way that is much more effective…   Additionally, this wrong approach happens to be the opposite of what sales teams should be doing – i.e. they should be creating and adding values to the prospect and helping the prospect (which is ultimately going to produce the highest Win Probability on average for your sales team).

I’ve asked SDRs to just email me their questions so we can do this quickly by email or at least do a 5 minute call on which I can answer all their questions quickly so that we can proceed forward if they felt there is a fit (i.e. I agreed to their requirement to identify a whether our organization’s size or needs fit what they sell ultimately putting the ball in their court with courtesy to the sales team).  However, I’ve had reps respond that it has to be 30 minutes as just 5 minutes is not sufficient or simply respond that with “I value my time and I don’t want to waste it if your organization is not a fit for us”.  I think this is not the right way to sell because that’s a quickest way to lost trust and rapport and lose a deal.  No prospect wants to pay money to a SaaS vendor who sets the stage like that right out of the gate – just put yourself in these shoes for a moment and you’ll see the issue.  I don’t blame the SDR for saying that and I think it’s a function of a lack of effective sales management and coaching when I hear relationship management (or sales) blunders like that.

Here is a Sales Process best practice for the best SaaS sales teams: you have to match the way you sell to the way your buyers want to buy.  And your buyers / prospects want to start the buying journey by learning what your company’s solution can do to help them solve their problems.  They don’t have the time to make 30 minutes to just answer your questions.

Keep in mind, most SaaS companies do not need more than 5 minutes to qualify a prospect – there should be no more than at most 2 or maybe 3 simple questions that answer the “Fit” formula and you should be able to do that easily in 5 minutes if you are effective at selling.  A typical SaaS “Fit” factor can boil down into just a simple answer about the company’s size (i.e. since many SaaS prices are a function of the # of Users) – and such a case you should really need maybe just 1 clarification because that information is easily discoverable on LinkedIn with 80%-90% accuracy – i.e. “Mr.Prospect, congratulations on your 100%+ growth this year – I noticed on LinkedIn your company went from 50 to 100 employees. Is that the most updated info on LinkedIn?”  It’s simple, conversational, non-invasive…doesn’t feel like an interrogation and will still get you an answer to know whether they are the right size for the type of company you typically work with.

Also, the very terminology “Discovery Call” should not ever be used in the first place because this terminology is actually quote unhelpful (and sometimes meaningless or confusing) to the prospect.  It’s like you are telling the prospect you want to interrogate them and see if they are good enough for yet another longer call.  Why not brand it as a “Value-Add Call” – this focuses on adding value to the prospect and feels right to the prospect. Or how about a simple “Introductory Call”.  Or, believe it or not, a “Demo”.  In fact, the best discovery questions happen when it is just a conversation grounded in liking each other, trust, rapport and respect – it’s when the prospect knows they will get to see the demonstration of the solution and not just be questioned first and then be required to make even more time to see the demo (if the prospect passes the interrogation).

True sales discovery happens as a friction-less process during which your prospect doesn’t feel that it’s an interrogation but instead feels like there is a mutually beneficial and respectful conversation that is helpful and adds value to the prospect (and equally helps the sales rep who gets their questions answered).  You you will be increasing your Win Probability (% Win Rate) if you start with being prospect-centric and leading with value-add to the prospect and not to yourself.

Here is the right way to go about your Discovery Calls:

  1. Do not refer to it as a “Discovery Call” and don’t use that terminology when communicating with prospects
  2. Focus on the prospect and not on yourself (be prospect-centric, not self-centered…i.e. basically, not “selfish”)
  3. Ideally, a great VP of Sales / Sales Leader should train SDRs to have a product on the screen and create a conversation with a short demo even if there needs to be a longer demo call later with an AE
  4. And if the VP of Sales doesn’t do 3 above, the SDR should be able to create a “Value-Add Call” or “Introduction Call” that is focused on answering the common questions of the prospect while also having the kind of conversation that gets you that 1 or 2 answers to identify a “fit”