How to Run Discovery Before (or during) a Saas Demo, to CLOSE? Before you run another discovery meeting, you need to consider the guidelines below. They are part of our SaaS Best Practices for Demos and are essential aspects of getting information, establishing trust, and continuing a dialogue with your prospects.
We have watched hundreds of demos that were delivered with bad (or no) discovery. It is, arguably, the single biggest problem in sales. When the demo does not align with discovery, the deal is not going to advance. Let’s explore some of our best practices for a better discovery.
Separate qualification from discovery
Qualification is not discovery. Say it again. Qualification. Is. Not. Discovery.
Qualification is all about the ability to buy. BANT is (do they have) budget, (does the person have) authority (to buy), (is there a documented) need and (is the) time (for the deal soon). With BANT, you want to know if you have the foundation of a good deal, but it’s only the foundation. The rest of the house, so to speak, is the use case. And That’s what discovery is for.
Forget “best discovery questions” lists
Everyone has at some point used lists or read over them (us included). They are really great to have to frame where you want to go to look at before or after, but when you meet someone new, asking questions off a list is really unappealing and does not create a connection that can lead to advancing trust or authority to introduce your solutions.
For example, a question off of one of those “best discovery questions” lists is “why hasn’t this been addressed before?” That may be the worst (or in the top 10) discovery question ever asked.
Let’s break that down. First, “why” questions are terrible. They immediately make people defensive, because they are often a signal of “I don’t believe you. Defend your position.” And the rest of the question is the same thing – it’s basically an attack. The last thing you want to do during discovery is make people defensive, so be careful that you’re not attacking them (even if inadvertent).
In this Best Practices White Paper, we really want to drive home that the leave behind the deck, video, and materials that are not in person or personally delivered on the phone will be including all the particulars of your product solution. Your job in discovery is to get to the bottom of their needs. Needs are emotional. No one likes being sold to, and asking questions off a list can make it feel like that’s exactly what you’re doing
Even if you don’t have the decision maker in the room, don’t make the audience feel “less than”
The more complex the sale, the more people will (usually) be involved, by speaking to only certain roles or certain people during your discovery (or your demo), you risk alienating them and turning them from potential allies to definite deal blockers. There’s a lot of information to be gleaned from everyone – especially the “junior” people who are actually doing the work (they are the most impacted by the solution you’re selling). As a rule of thumb, include everyone in your audience and don’t make them feel “less than.” The operational roles understand the problem a whole lot better than the executives, and they are more likely to give you the information you need.
Open ended questions. Open ended questions. Open ended questions.
Closed ended questions can “box people in.” We learned this in our exploration of motivational interviewing. You will always want to keep people talking and close ended questions, or questions that can end in a simple yes or no, are not going to get you those extra bits of information that you can use later to wow an audience in the demo.
One of the most painful closed-ended questions is “are there any questions” or “do you have any questions?” Whenever that question is asked, the answer is almost some variant of [awkward silence].
When you’ve earned the right, show empathy (but only when you’ve earned the right)
There are loads of blog posts, white papers, and studies that discuss empathy. But there are also a bunch of blog posts and white papers (but not studies, to our knowledge anyway) that incorrectly say lead with empathy. The trick with empathy is that leading with what you “think” is empathy may sound disingenuous instead. If empathy is the ability to understand someone else’s perspective (not to agree with it necessarily, but to validate it), then it would make sense that you can’t do that without actually hearing what said perspective is.
Instead, be polite, get to know the person with open-ended questions, and avoid leading the witness with manipulative questions. You have the right to ask questions, that is it. They are in a meeting and if you ask questions and they answer willingly and you then practice reflexive listening (Chris Voss calls this “tactical empathy” – reflect back the emotions) and you may get the opportunity to probe deeper. Be completely clear at all costs. If you have a question about what they are telling you ask them, there is much more to be lost by asking a roundabout question that is from your cheat sheet on discovery. See tips on persuasion vs manipulation.
To paraphrase Chris Voss, getting to yes isn’t always the goal
People may give a soft, yes just to get you to stop/go away. “Yeah, sure, ok.” An example – “sounds great – just let me ask my partner” is my way of saying no without actually saying no (thus avoiding confrontation or feeling guilty). Managing objections is actually what you want to be doing in a discovery. When someone raises objections, it is typically a sign that they trust you enough to be honest and frank about what they see as a problem with the sale. This is a GREAT sign. Believe it or not, an objection is much better than a nonverbal cue, like a head nod.
The exception to this is when the objection is clearly a “land mine” from a competitor – then it’s still great to learn it, because it’s data to help you get through the deal.
Don’t be afraid to probe, and read the room to know when it’s gone far enough
When all else fails, “tell me more about that” can keep the conversation moving forward. Especially if you don’t know what else to say, or need to get out of a potentially uncomfortable line of questioning. People like to talk, so you should let them. All in person communications need to be about the other person, not about you or your agenda. If you do not have trust or authority from your audience you will know from non verbal cues of disengagement and verbal cues of wanting to leave the conversation.
How to Run Discovery Before a Saas Demo
So How to Run Discovery Before a Saas Demo is really how to gain trust from your audience and ask open-ended questions, then get to objections or agreement. Making sure the prospect is in the correct stage of a sales process. If you are interested in learning more about some of the methods we spoke about, please follow our links, or give us a call. We offer coursework, speaking, and 1:1 coaching. We would love to hear from you.