Use the Discovery Process to Customize Your Best Deal

Use the Discovery Process to Customize Your Best Deal

"Sales teams at most ESP’s are comprised of a sales leader and a sales engineer who are assigned to your project. That sales team has been onsite and meeting with a large number of prospects and has been exposed to a wide variety of problems on the client side. How unique do you consider the data integration issue from your CRM to your email tool to be? How differentiated is the problem you may have getting IT to develop an API, or to have the marketing team cut down on the time it takes to proof and approve the creative for a campaign? For most of us that sell, the answer is not very unique at all."

Sales teams go through a process called discovery.  It’s designed to help the seller understand the needs of the buyer so that the seller can begin to design a solution to fit the buyers’ needs.  While it can feel like an interrogation at times, it is a valuable exercise that will help the buying process along. But buyers can be reluctant to truly open up about their needs and by doing so, they are shooting themselves in the foot. 

The task of identifying true needs versus wants often yields insights.   But many times, buyers are guarded in dealing with sales teams and will become defensive during intense questioning.  Why is this?  While I know there is a natural instinct to be weary of sales people, there is a reason why you should open the kimono to them.  In most cases sales teams have had more exposure than you do to your “unique” problem set and may in fact have a viable solution to fix your issue.

Sales teams at most ESP’s are comprised of a sales leader and a sales engineer who are assigned to your project.  That sales team has been onsite and meeting with a large number of prospects and has been exposed to a wide variety of problems on the client side.  How unique do you consider the data integration issue from your CRM to your email tool to be?  How differentiated is the problem you may have getting IT to develop an API, or to have the marketing team cut down on the time it takes to proof and approve the creative for a campaign?  For most of us that sell,  the answer is not very unique at all.

The exposure that sales teams have to a wide variety of issues is significant. It tends to cross verticals as well.  Experience selling into financial services institutions may yield solutions that can be applied to your retail business.  When you don’t open up and share with the sales team during the discovery process, they are unable to develop a customized sales overview for you.  That makes it difficult to select a vendor because all of the presentations will feel generalized and not directed to what it is you are really seeking.  You’d never visit a doctor and describe the pain you’re having in general terms. Business pain works the same way  so why not dive deep into the issues you’re facing with sales team so you can get a thoughtful response and truly determine whether or not they can meet your need.

The process of vetting a vendor can be easily accomplished by mapping your needs and wants clearly and requiring vendors to adhere to your problems set specifically.  If you take the time to be detailed during the discovery process, you can easily and efficently eliminate those vendors that do not provide specific and targeted responses to your needs. The entire process becomes more efficient and useful and you’ll select the right vendor for the right reasons.  

If you answer discovery questions honestly and openly, it will make the sales process more focused.  Pay attention to their responses to your specific problems to vet them and eliminate teams that miss the mark early.  And finally, leverage the exposure your sales team has to the market at large to understand lessons learned from different verticals and email team structures out there.

Lastly, and this is important!!!  Get those NDA’s signed up front.

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