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Sep 22, 2022
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3 Strategies for Better Pre-Call Planning

The best sales people are prepping for more than 15 minutes before discovery calls. Everyone else, especially those that are overwhelmed, are either skipping this step or conducting very minimal research to make sure they aren’t getting the industry wrong. Generally speaking, this means that the sales people are asking general questions and not getting to the prospect’s real pain on the discovery call.

Gong, the leader in sales performance, says “Asking a generic line of questioning is likely to get you kicked in the teeth.” Getting kicked in the teeth often looks like a low conversion rate, and sounds like “marketing is sending us bad leads.”

The point is, pre-call prep, i.e. knowing indicators of possible pains, saves deals. How? Good research helps you already key into what is top of your prospect’s mind. Per Gong, you need to ask 11-14 questions scattered throughout your discovery call to have an increased chance of winning the deal. With pre-call prep, you have the right questions lined up to understand their pain.

So how does one do this prep? Obviously, companies aren’t going to advertise their pains in a straightforward manner. Sales people need to know which factors indicate pain, before reaching out to them. Those indicators are normally listed as company initiatives.

Each initiative shows the underlying pain or a business priority. For example, a move into a new market indicates the prospect is trying to hit revenue goals, and this new market is the only way to achieve those goals. The corporate pain is the revenue goal, not the new market. Ask about the revenue goals in your line of questioning to get down to the prospect’s personal pain.

Unfortunately, symptom questioning, as opposed to causation questioning, is prolific amongst sales people. The cause of this line of questioning is reading the research wrong, or more commonly, poor research.

Below are a few examples of the symptoms that indicate an underlying cause.

1. Revenue Growth or Series Funding

Most of the time we think of more money as a buying indicator. This is a false positive. Yes, they have more money to spend, but the key is figuring out what they are spending it on. What can you look at to show what they are funding? Hiring trends across the company.

You need to know where the money is being spent. Hiring trends are indicative of a larger pain. When someone starts increasing their headcount, they are really trying to solve a problem. Look deeper for specifics inside the hiring and you can find the real pain they are trying to solve for.

2. Persona Pain vs Company-Specific Persona Pain

Salespeople have the misconception that “I know this persona’s general pain; therefore I know this person’s pain at this company.”

Persona pain is a great starting point to understand the scope of someone’s job, but the generalizations don’t hold true from company to company. If the persona matched your prospect 1:1 you wouldn’t need to worry about any deal. Everyone would buy because everyone would have the pains that you solve. We know this isn’t the case, though, and we try to prepare for how a prospect is different from the generalities in our target personas.

The best place to find that differentiation piece is a job description for a similar position or a company blog post or (in the case of a public company - their public earnings calls, 10ks and presentations) .You’ll see exactly what a company needs to solve for in that position. You’ll see what they are building, what type of technical training they need, years of experience, etc. This will key you into the specific company needs.

3. Presence of Competition

When selling into an industry, you’re definitely coming up against the same competitors. We also know that often the biggest competitor is change or an inhouse solution. Unfortunately, when prepping, we often prepare for what outside competitors are doing in the company, as opposed to what the company is doing for itself. You have to investigate what people are talking about in their company to understand the way that they are using their current tech stack.

Most of your prospects are talking about their tech stack somewhere. Typically, you’ll find them promoting what they work on on LinkedIn. This is where a potential future employer will see their postings and reach out to them. As such, you need to check what they are talking about prior to the meeting.

But how do you find the time to do this for every prospect?

With specific questions in hand, you’re able to go into the conversation with a map of the minefield. Your questions will allow you to point out the mines that your prospect might have missed. Also, your research will give you the right to ask questions about their personal pain. You’ll hit that level 3 pain in no time.

What’s preventing you? Time. As stated above, most people don’t have the time to do this type of activity for every deal. That’s where we come in. CloseFactor’s line of products gets AI to do the work for you. Now, you are able to walk into a deal with 10 minutes of prep, yet have all of the specific questions that would have normally taken you 30 minutes or more.

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