Sales Effectiveness
5 min reading

Discovery Rendezvous: How to prepare the ground to make your offer irresistible?

Cyprien Borios
Published on
a salesman with binoculars to illustrate the discovery meeting
"How did your meeting go?"
"Well, at first they were into it. Then I did my demo, and... umm, I haven't heard from them."

Here you go again... you tried to count your chickens before they're hatched!

How many of us jump into our pitch without knowing what our prospect is really interested in?

Grab your calculators. What is your ratio of: Number of clients signed / Number of first appointments.

How much do you get? 3%? 5%? Maybe 8% for the best?

Even that is too little ... and 70% of the time it is due to a hasty discovery phase !

However, the information you gather at the first meeting is the foundation of your deal... How can you make your prospect's mouth water and unveil your offer at the best time?

The REAL role of a discovery call

A good "disco" (A.K.A. "Discovery" or "1st date") is everything EXCEPT asking 3-4 questions, then presenting your solution! No. You're missing too many steps!

Before presenting anything, you should first be able to answer two questions:

  1. What is the status of my prospect today?
  2. Where would he like to be in 6 months?

Your job? Connecting these two dots.

But too often, we don't know our prospect - and its problems - well enough and we go off in all directions... Pretty much like taking part in the Paris-Dakar Rally, without knowing where Dakar is in the first place!

So the question is, "How do you get your prospect to open up, without going into a detailed presentation of your solution?"

Encouraging your prospect to open up

For this, I propose an intro - 30 seconds in a row:

1. An ultra-concise pitch, which outlines:

"Very briefly, Modjo is a solution that allows you to centralise and analyse all your customer interactions, using conversational analysis. In fact, we're already working with [customer similar to prospect]."

It's that nice smell that comes from the kitchens, just enough to arouse people's curiosity.

2. Then initiate the manoeuvre by explaining why you are going to question him:

Before I tell you more, I need to ask you some specific questions to make sure we can help you too.

Do you see the positioning?

⇒ First you explain why it is in the interest of the prospect that you ask your questions.

⇒ "To be sure it can help" - is a magic phrase! As a prospect, you realize that the sales person can leave you alone at any time, and this instantly makes you relax: "This person is not going to force my hand."

Tip: For prospects who don't play along, constantly bring the discussion back to them: "But tell me, how do you think we can help you?"

To sum up: If your prospect understands that it is in their interest, they will be open up: strong

1. Starting off on the right foot

First: why are we talking?

Why did you take this time to exchange?
How do you think we can help you?

Everyone who accepts an appointment with you has an idea in mind. Identify the expectations of your interviewer.

2. What are the facts?

The few questions that validate the 3 - 4 sine and qua non conditions of your business:

What is your phone system? How many sales people are in the company? Who are the managers?

Obvious. Next.

3. What are the prospect's "problems"?

Then you can start to raise possible problems/areas for improvement:

Do some salespeople perform better than others? Do you know where the difference comes from?
Do your salespeople fill in the CRM perfectly?
How long does it take you to train new salespeople?

I put "problems" in the plural, but remember: the longer your disco, the more you lose the prospect's patience. Choose your battle horse, especially if your solution offers multiple benefits! Focus on 1, 2, maximum 3 problems.

So far, most sales are in control. Now's when we start to lose everyone!

4. What is the IMPACT of their problem?

-Oh, good thing you mention that, because our solution actually allows to solve this problem. Here, let me show you..."

Ouch. The "abyss of haste" ! You have just fallen into it.

You have identified a problem that you can fix. That's great. But the water is still heating! Now it's time to drive your point home:

"You tell me that the information in your CRM is not qualitative, right." => "Do you have any idea of the impact it has?"
"Are there top performers? And some not so good? Ok". => "What is the gap between the best and the worst performers?"
"So you have a lot of turnover in your company." => "How much is it?"

The objective: Highlighting the impact of the problem.

Shine a spotlight on the issues that lead to the consequences.

  • "What are the consequences?"
  • "What is the impact of what you have just told me?"
  • "What does this engender?"

Let's take an example with our "incomplete CRM" problem.

- I just don't understand, the CRM is empty, but what's the problem?
- Well, in the management committee we have too little information coming back! So we've been making bad decisions for two years.
- Ok, and what are the consequences of these bad decisions?
- We don't target the right accounts. We have a huge turnover, we can't integrate the dirty ones, etc.
- Okay, and how much do you estimate that all of this is costing?"
- It's costing us $x."

Very good. Now that the "seriousness" of the problem has been established, it is time to go upstream and diagnose the causes!

5. Causes: What is the root problem?

Once again, ask numerous questions that lead to the "causes":

- Okay, so you make bad decisions because your CRM is empty? Why Why is your CRM empty?
- My sales people don't like to fill in the CRM (oh my!!)
- Right, and
why they don't like it?
- They think it's a waste of time, that it doesn't do anything for them.
- OK, so they don't fill in the CRM because they don't see the point of it, and as a result you make bad decisions at management level, which is worth €XX in turnover?
- That's right.

At this stage, a problem is recognized, the consequences are clear, and its causes identified. It is now time to translate this problem into "emotional" terms.

You're about to understand...

6. What emotions does this situation generate?

From the beginning, your conversation has revolved around numbers, methodologies, business. But numbers don't move mountains.

In fact, the human brain has a LOT of trouble with numbers. They're too "abstract".

On the other hand, emotions are powerful motors, which drive action!

⇒ "In this situation, what emotions does your prospect feel?"

- How do you feel when you see this? // Does it bother you? // Does it make you angry? // How do you take it?
- I'm clearly fed up! I'm torn because on the one hand I know my sales people have busy days, and I don't want to "force" them to fill the CRM - on the other hand all the money they bring in evaporates because we make bad decisions.

The power of emotions is that just by evoking them, your prospect will feel them.

⇒ Connect the dots between the facts - and the emotional impact.

7. Keep going upstream, to the highest point of the waterfall

Okay, should we finally talk about you? Are you ready to pull your offer out?

Tempting, but you still need to put the icing on the cake:

Let the prospect draw their own conclusion.

Never forget that an idea imposed on you carries 10x less weight than if the same idea came from you => Welcome to Inception!

If the prospect doesn't do it on their own, give him a push forward:

"Okay I understand the situation. Now, if you had a magic wand, what would you do to fix this problem?" / "How do you think we can help you?"

Here's the key: Before entering your pitch, your prospect must have said to himself or herself, "I confess, I have this problem, and I'd like it solved."

"Well the ideal for me, you guessed it... It would be for my CRM to update itself automatically - without it taking my teams 2 hours/day ..."

At this point, the ground is ready. The water is boiling hot. You can finally send in your best demo!


Do you feel like you've reached the end of a marathon? You kind of have!

For the most patient ones, another conclusion will also work:

"Okay, so to recap, we have {consequence x} coming from {problem x} because of {cause x}. We've been talking for 29 minutes. What I propose is that we meet again on Monday for 30 minutes so that I can give you a complete demo. Do you think it's worth inviting your CEO as well?"

Of course, not all sales require so many steps, but you now have the completetheory.

Let me remind you: you can sprain your ankle at every step. Beware of the abyss of haste! That's what makes the sales business so complex.

If it makes you feel any better, we also find it hard to stop talking about Modjo in a disco phase. But hang in there! The more you validate these steps, the more your offer will appear as the logical and indispensable solution.

To conclude, I would say that a good discovery is like a good friendship:

"It may have a beginning, but it should never have an end!"


Cyprien Borios
Sales expert
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