Commercial efficiency
4 min reading

5 Tips to stop missing your customer discovery calls.

Paul Berloty
November 2021
Discovering customer needs in five tips

The discovery phase, you say?‍

Before we jump in, let's take some time to understand why a simple discovery phase can have so much impact in your results.

  • ‍"Thank you for your availability, we think on our side and come back to you""Your product is really great, I understand well its use for your customers, but we are slightly different from your customers".

"After thinking about it, your competitor's product is slightly more suitable for our need."

We get it, a classic of classic objections that we have all heard hundreds of times before

In truth, these are typically the kind of objections that could have been avoided, and they indicate one thing: we missed our discovery phase!

Having interviewed nearly fifty salespeople to write this article, let's get clear on the definition of a discovery phase. 

I'm telling you, it's worth it.‍

It's all about the issues

A discovery phase is nothing more and nothing less: 

  1. Identify the potential problems of your prospect that your solution could solve
  2. Subtly start to make it clear that these problems are serious and need to be solved by something that looks like your product.


Unless you do an intensive 3-month internship with your prospect, you never come out of a discovery phase knowing EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING. 

To understand his problem (quickly), ask him "leading"questions and let him get involved.

These objections are responsible for nearly 80% of your "closed lost" sales. Is there anything more important than that? Here it is.

To better understand your prospect and avoid missing out on crucial information, we analyzed nearly 34,000 opportunities and conversations. Here's what we found out:

time invested in the discovery phase

Well, so far, not very surprising. The most trained salespeople invest more time than the average salesperson in the discovery phase.

Which was a discovery for us. No pun intended.

This is because the most trained salespeople are in a discovery phase throughout their sales cycle.

Typical example of the intensity to be put in the conduct of a sale

Throughout their sales cycle, they demonstrate "curiosity".

‍"Bill Gates and I certainly share a curiosity about problems" - Warren Buffet‍

The best of us are on the lookout for new information that we can turn to our advantage.

Imagine you work for a software company. You are demonstrating to one of your prospects and you hear in the middle of your sales cycle, "Interesting your features, we'll have to talk about it with the Human Resources department."‍

  • A junior salesperson will reply, "Yes certainly, let's keep going, I have a lot more to show you! "‍
  • A trained salesperson will reply, "Okay fine, out of curiosity, what would they be interested in? "‍

Try to apply this to your daily sales and let us know how it goes.

Prepare for the "wow effect" during your discovery calls

Do you know what it is? Normally I do.

You must have encountered this situation several times already:

You identify your prospect's problem. You're used to it. You've done it hundreds of times.

You give him a good demonstration but for some reason it doesn't work. 

You know it. Your solution will change his life, your existing customers have told you that, but nothing does.‍

"Thank you for these items, we'll think about it and get back to you"‍

Or for the most courageous and honest of our prospects:‍

"I understand the interest in your product, however it is not our priority"

To put an end to it: Review your product.

  1. What is THE feature that "impresses" your prospects in successful demonstrations? 
  2. What does it solve? What are the use cases?

During your discovery phase, subtly direct your questions to make your prospect understand thatthey have a problem. That problem is the one your feature solves.

Don't be the only one to be aware of this, your prospect must recognize it himself:

  • ‍Commercial: "Are you following me or do you think I'm slightly off topic? "
  • Prospect: "No, it's true, now that you mention it, we hadn't seen it that way"‍

In writing this, I feel like I'm pushing a door open, but let's refer to the numbers.

Many experienced salespeople fail to convert some of their opportunities because they lack curiosity or because they have not invested enough time in selling the problem their product solves.

Here is a slightly far-fetched example that you can transpose to the product or service you are selling: it is a sale that probably happened in France in the early XXᵉ century. I remember it like it was yesterday.

  • ‍Commercial: "How many candles do you use to light your entire room?"
  • ‍Prospect: "Between 3 and 4"
  • Commercial "Okay, and how many do you use per night?"
  • Prospect : "We use almost 15 of these a night."
  • Commercial : "Alright and you never found a candle that could light your entire room, last more than 3 months while paying less for it?"
  • Prospect: "Ah not yet, but if it exists, I want to see it"‍

You get the idea?‍

💪 In short, remember this:‍

  1. Before you launch into a demonstration, make sure your prospect understands the seriousness of their problem and what they would need to solve it.
  2. Adapt your questions to your prospect, but above all to your product!
  3. Do not focus on all the problems of the person you are talking to, but only on those you are going to address.
  4. Ask your questions and avoid interrogations that will make you look like an unprofessional salesperson.

⚠️ Ask questions but not too many. Look just below:

Address next steps at the beginning of the call

At the time of the discovery phase, you have not yet shown anything of your product.

Yet, you will make sure to set next steps. Next steps.

If you are in the discovery phase with a prospect, it means that he has a minimum of interest in what you are offering.

Remember what he told you in the canvassing call.

‍"I don't have time"‍

It doesn't matter if they made the request themselves or if you prospected them (inbound vs. outbound).‍

If he is facing you, it is because he wants to see what you have to show him. 

So you have his attention and there is even a slight impatience in him. His reward circuit can be activated. 

It's time to be sharp 🏃🏻‍♂️: take advantage of this rare reverse power relationship to ask him

"If what I'm showing you is of value to you and you're interested, what would be the next steps?"‍

example of when the topic "next steps" is raised in a customer needs discovery call

This question is crucial because it will save you a lot of time.

You will distinguish the real potential customers from those who are just there to make you lose it.

You'll probably hear this kind of response for prospects who pose as serious prospects whenthey're just there to "watch. "

"If the product is good, I will tell my n+1 and we will probably come back to you."‍

This smells like a good defeat.

Those who have a real approach may be slightly surprised by your question, but they will be able to give you concrete evidence like

"If we are interested in the product then we can demo it to the IT director so he can validate the technical possibility, then we will potentially demo it with... and talk about price"‍

I'm so excited to share with you the many sales meetings where we've done this. 

It changed everything.‍

💡 Obviously, it's still our job to convert those who "look" into hot prospects.

If you're wondering how to do it, here are 5 tips on how to add intensity to your deals.

This graph shows us the link between the conversion rate and the moment of the "next step".

correlation between conversion rate and the topic "next steps" in a discovery call

Once addressed, let your interviewer express himself, then suggest not one, but several next steps

Our secret: how to do x3 on the next steps? 

A lot of analysis has been done on these so-called "top performers".

‍Inaddition to bringing up the "next step" topic in the middle of their discovery phase, the most trained salespeople offer nearly 3x more actions and next steps than less trained salespeople.

In fact, instead of just setting up a simple demo appointment, they offer a real action plan to their contacts.‍


At the end of the discovery phase, top performers schedule reference appointments between their prospect and some of their clients

They also organize a demonstration with other stakeholders, potential influencers or champions who can help in the decision making process. They go the extra mile.

I can already see you coming: "Yes, but it's complicated for us, because we have different prospects, it won't work"‍

Yes, yes. Take a look for yourselves:

example of intensity in the conduct of a sales opportunity
data on the number of interactions observed after a discovery appointment

We have one more trick. Does the art of teasing ring a bell?

Work on your ability to make the prospect want you

A good marketer must know how to cultivate the art of teasing.‍

To boost their sales cycle once the discovery phase is over, the best salespeople give an extremely short demonstration .

3 minutes on average of screen sharing. That's not much.

Straight to the point, they go straight to the point: the "wow" feature.

This feature is the one that solves the famous problem sold during the whole discovery phase.

The objective? To leave the prospect wanting more.

Motivate them to speed up, to add others to the loop, to be proactive in proposing next steps on their own. 

Before this demonstration, make sure you validate 2 things: 

  1. That the prospect is convinced of the problem that this feature will solve
  2. That you have agreed on the next steps.

"The longer it takes, the worse it is, especially for screen sharing.

Watch :

average screen sharing time during a discovery call

BONUS: Answer objections before they are even asked‍

"Anticipation is absolute power. While others react, the best of us anticipate" - Tony Robbins

In sales, anticipating is anticipating objections.‍

Statistically, a trained salesperson receives fewer objections than the average salesperson.

And no, it's not luck.

In fact, they use the discovery phase to subtly address them.

We give you an example, because some objections are irrational and appear more as a protection for our prospects.

At Modjo, at the very beginning, we regularly heard:‍

"We prefer to invest on tools that will allow us to do more volume than on training tools, our sales people are all very good"‍

Our plan of action is simple. If during the discovery appointment, the prospect does not mention that they believe in the importance of training, then we do 2 things:

1/ We take them to the subject of training

Commercial: "Are all of your sales people excellent or is there room for improvement?"‍

The answers are consistently the same:‍

  • ‍Prospect: "No of course, there is still a lot of room for maneuvering."
  • ‍Commercial: "Okay, and do any of them seem to be better than others?"
  • ‍Prospect:"Yes, especially Stephane and Marie"‍

The following questions:‍

"What does this represent in terms of revenue?"

"Do you have any idea what they do differently?"

"Do you think that can change?"

2/ Once the problem is validated, we encourage them to invite a more operational person

Suggest inviting a manager or even a salesperson to the demonstration so that they can provide an operational perspective.

In conclusion

Finally, I would like to share with you this famous phrase from our friend Teddy Riner: "You don' t get something for nothing" .

"If you don't kill yourself - in training, if you don't force yourself to push the limits, you're not going anywhere.

It is the famous "no pain no gain" of our friends across the Atlantic.

Still not convinced that training makes a difference?

I am available to discuss this.

Good luck 💪


Paul Berloty
CEO and Co-founder
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