Motivational Interview Techniques for Discovery

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Motivational Interview Techniques for Discovery are some of our newest ways to increase prospect receptivity to your product. 

What is Motivational Interviewing? 

Motivational interviewing is a technique used by mental health professionals specializing in addiction and whose foundation is in the Humanistic Psychology approach. Many people in the sales and presentation fields have borrowed from Humanistic psychology and human behavior studies to find new ways to influence decision making and change. Motivational Interviewing at its’ core is about a client coming to their own conclusion about the fitness of your product and their need for it. 

Before we dive into the five principles of motivational interviewing, we want to spend a moment talking about the difference between a discovery or demo run with motivational interviewing techniques and your more standard techniques that include a battery of questions asked at intervals or in a sequence determined by marketing or prior sales training. The problem with these types of discovery sessions is that they are impersonal and the timing can be at intervals that make no sense in the discovery. When you see a really really good sales person they are best at reading people and getting them to share. You might not get the answers to questions 4,5,6 but you got way more information because they started sharing information without being asked, and that is the key and what motivational interviewing simulates. 

Five Principles of Motivational Interviewing 

People talking in therapy for  Motivational Interview Techniques for Discovery
Motivational Interview Techniques for Discovery

In order to get the answers to your questions in discovery and to gauge a clients receptivity to a change or new product, you need to learn how to speak to them and how to listen receptively.  Listening is more than half of communicating and it is arguably the more important half. Here are the five principles that you can start learning today to more effectively run your discovery, and your demo.  

  1. Express Empathy in reflexive listening Reflexive listening is really simple and sounds really complicated. All it is, is listening to someone and then repeating what they said back to them, to show that you understand what they said. This approach was developed by Carl Rogers, who was one of the founders of the Humanistic Approach to psychology. This tracks well, because the Humanistic Approach is client centered, as is sales. Reflexive listening is inherently empathetic because you are concerning yourself with understanding the person delivering the messages. 
  2. Be able to show the discrepancy between the current state (what needs change) and what is currently happening without any antagonism or shame. This is the most delicate aspect of motivational interviewing. You need to express the disconnect between what they are looking to achieve and what is happening in a sales process. But only using their words. Be extremely careful as you introduce the discrepancy that you are using their native language. Repeat the discrepancy exactly as you heard it. 
  3. Avoid confrontation. Finding a discrepancy in what the ideal is vs reality is not dramatic and should be without emotion or projection. We speak about activating the limbic system and part of the brain. This is your fight or flight response. If someone threatens you or perceives a threat they shut down. It also happens if they feel you are threatening the status quo of a sales process. Many many many sales trainings recommend issuing thinly veiled threats or using strong language to discuss a discrepancy, but it rarely works as it is intended. 
  4. Adjust when the client resists rather than oppose. Everyone encounters obstacles and your marketing department likely has a script or handbook on overcoming objections. What we insist is that you overcome objections not in opposition, but in agreement. When an objection is raised, using their language, and without mentioning the discrepancy, you can bring in a scenario of success. It is a brief reprieve from talking about their problems, and it reframes the issue, AND delivers proof. 
  5. Be optimistic. In psychotherapy and in sales there are a lot of downers and doomsday sales openers and discoveries. Why? This is sales, this isn’t an intervention or rehab. There is nothing life threatening on the line, we are talking about productivity and some numbers. Keep it light and when you are conducting discovery, even if you find that this client is 100% not ready or 100% not a fit, still be positive. A positive experience that stays with a client or a particular person in the room can have a ripple effect. Maybe they move jobs and are in a company the next year that WILL need your product and they remember that really great call or meeting with someone who really listened and who took the time to find out what you need. 

How to use Motivational Interview Techniques for Discovery? 

If this approach sounds like it is something you would like to try or for your team to consider, we recommend applying your discovery inventory to the principles above and really diving into the sales culture as a whole. For many revenue organizations without a defined sales culture and strategy, top performers are left on their own to sell as they know how, and new contributors may try to mirror their deals and approaches in the same fashion. Motivational Interviewing Techniques are best applied within a culture where the clients needs are always in the forefront of the sales process. 

Learn more or sign up your team for a course! 

If you are interested in learning more about how to upskill your sales team in motivational interviewing and exploring how the principles of Humanistic Psychology can be applied to your sales process and culture, let’s chat. 

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