The art of discovery is one of the most important parts of any sales process. And yet, so many entrepreneurs and business owners spend a minuscule amount of time on it. This often leads to miscommunication, missed expectations and failed business relationships.
A better discovery process will help you avoid these all-too-common issues. Plus, help you close more businesses quickly and more effortlessly. In this episode, I talk about the four types of questions you need to ask in a discovery or diagnostic process that will lead to better sales.
Connect with Dhiren:
- 01:34 Discovery is the ability of service business owners, consultants and coaches to be able to understand the customer’s potential problems
- 02:03 What most business owners as consultants forget to do and its consequences
- 03:24 Listening typically starts with discovery and the 4 types of questions to ask in a discovery or diagnostic process
- 04:17 The first type of question in a discovery or diagnostic process
- 05:25 The second type of question in a discovery or diagnostic process
- 07:50 The third type of question in a discovery or diagnostic process
- 08:43 Examples of questions we typically ask our clients to lend information
- 09:43 The fourth type of question in a discovery or diagnostic process
Questions to Ask During a Discovery Process With Your Customers/Clients:
Questions to ask:
- Listen – Better questions can lead to answers that challenge deeply held assumptions. They make it easier to push past biases & venture into uncharted territory. Asking questions to draw out information will allow you t best place the project objectives within the larger organizational context. This will also help you build relationships with & gather support from the client stakeholders. In short, ask questions that yield opportunities for intentional listening.
- Learn – Learn about the client’s problem. Learn about what is is the real issue, needs and also what’s the future vision.
Questions You Can Ask:
- Why are you looking to implement a system now?
- What has changed now that is wanting you to take this project on?
- Why can’t you do this yourself?
- What’s preventing you and your team from doing this?
- Lend – Use questioning as a technique to lend expertise, talents, networks, technology, ideas, tools, or support.
- Lead – lead the customer to a solution that he/she may not be able to solve or provide a roadmap
Questions You Can Ask:
- Have you considered or have you thought about so on and so forth?
- Have you discussed this within your teams?
- Would you consider taking this as an idea to take back to your teams?
“If I were to tell you that there is one thing that we don’t do as service business owners and as consultants is we don’t discover, we don’t go deep into the problem that the client is facing. We’re too quick to respond with a service or a product that you have for sale.” – Dhiren Bhatia
“Asking questions to draw information will allow you to best place the objectives within the context of the organization within the context of the much larger problem. And that is going to really help cement your relationship and get the support that you need from the customer when it’s time to close.” – Dhiren Bhatia
“Sometimes it’s not about prescribing the solution right out of the gate. It’s about understanding what the true problem is going levels deeper, and any other connecting problems that we have not discovered yet.” – Dhiren Bhatia
“If you ask the right questions, you can actually give your client the ability to lend your experience your strategic thought process. And it can work wonders in a conversation because now the client can see you as a trusted adviser, rather than here to make a sale.” – Dhiren Bhatia
“Sometimes, it’s not always the technology system that is missing. It’s also a process that doesn’t line up that there is a gap and and typically, we get to spend some time talking about how the customer can then go ahead and use our experience to better their process. And this gives a great value to the client right away.” – Dhiren Bhatia
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Hello, hello, and a very big welcome to a brand new episode of the Elevated Entrepreneur podcast, if this is your first time here, and thank you so much for tuning in and if you haven’t already, please make sure you head on over to the elevatedentrepreneur.fm website but I have got so many other amazing episodes for you to check out together with show notes and subscriptions that I have had crafted for you and if you are a longtime listener, thank you too because you are just amazing. This episode is called “The Art of Discovery”.
The art of discovery is the one skill that us as entrepreneurs, consultants, coaches seem to be missing. It’s the one thing that we get wrong constantly. In fact, in most businesses, it doesn’t even exist. So if there’s one secret that can help supercharge your service business, then stay tuned, because I am going to share that very secret on this episode. So grab your headphones, grab a cup of coffee, if you’re going for a ride, turn on the music, turn up the volume and help me cue the music. You’re listening to the Elevated Entrepreneur podcast, a podcast designed to help retailers restauranteurs and entrepreneurs simplify business operations and use modern technology to elevate their business. Here’s your host, Dhiren Bhatia.
All right, welcome to this fantastic episode, called “The Art of Discovery”. What I’m talking about is the ability for service business owners, consultants and coaches to be able to understand what is the potential problem that a customer will have. And that sounds really easy, doesn’t it? If I have a customer who’s looking to pay me for my service, and he’s talking to me, and he’s telling me all of these different things that he’s got going on, I could very easily make a sale.
Yet, if I were to tell you that there is one thing that we don’t do as service business owners as consultants, is we don’t discover we don’t go deep into the problem that the client is facing, we’re too quick to respond with a service or a product that you have for sale and that’s where the problem begins, is because expectations aren’t met, the ability to match what the client wants versus what you are giving was never discussed and will never be met. Because guess what, we didn’t discover.
So today’s episode is all about learning the art of discovery, and to start this episode, there is a beautiful quote from the book called E Myth, which stands for the entrepreneurial myth and if you listened to the episode before this one, where we talk about the entrepreneurial myth, I refer to that book again, this is a phenomenal book, I love for you to get a copy if you haven’t, it’s, I feel mandatory reading for all entrepreneurs, and in that book, Michael Gerber, the author says sales is not about closing.
Sales is about listening and how many times have we heard, always be closing sales is all about getting the customer to buy. If you are listening, and you’re able to understand your potential customers needs, pains, problems, desires, vision, you will make that sale, the sales process isn’t about closing. I
t’s about listening and listening typically starts with what we call a discovery or even a diagnostic discovery or a diagnostic is where we as business owners, as sales managers, as sales leaders are sitting in a conversation with a potential client and really listening to what are some of the pains and challenges. Of course, they come to you with a very specific problem but oftentimes, if we were to dig a bit deeper, we would realize there are bigger problems that lie below the surface.
The only thing that is preventing us from knowing them is asking the questions. And, to that point, I want to present in this episode, the four different types of questions that will make your discovery process, a much better process and a much more powerful process. So are we ready to get started?
Type of question number one is the question to listen. How many times have we rushed to answer a question that the client is asking us because we feel we are under pressure to give him the right answer as soon as possible. But if we are asking questions to listen, we are better suited to not answer the question at that moment in time, but to just listen and continue to give very specific attention to what this client is really saying.
Also, questioning to listen can better challenge some of the assumptions that are being made implicitly or explicitly in this conversation. Questioning to listen also makes it easier to push past certain biases and venture into territory that may not have been part of this conversation when it was scheduled. Asking questions to draw information will allow you to best place the objectives within the context of the organization within the context of the much larger problem.
And that is going to really help cement your relationship and get the support that you need from the customer when it’s time to close. Now, the second type of questions that you need to be asking, are the questions to learn. And these are types of questions that are meant to scratch the surface and go much deeper into the problem. Because once we learn to question to learn, you see what I did there?
Only then are we able to prescribe the solution and sometimes it’s not about prescribing the solution right out of the gate. It’s about understanding what the true problem is going levels deeper, and any other connecting problems that we have not discovered yet.
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A good example of these kinds of questions are typically the ones that, for example, we would ask in one of our discoveries at Cloudscape. Why are you looking to implement a system now? What has changed now that is wanting you to take this project on? Another good kind of question is why can’t you do this yourself? What’s preventing you and your team from doing this?
And these are phenomenal, open ended questions, because they allow the customer to really give you the bee’s knees, you allow them to give you the details that probably may not come up. And interestingly enough, I found that most business owners and sales leaders are shy to ask these kinds of questions because they think it will affect the chances of closing but I propose that when you ask these kinds of questions, you’re able to forge a better relationship and really understand the client’s needs.
And remember, when we are asking questions to learn, we don’t necessarily have to stick to the problem, we could also go wider and higher or deeper, you can choose maybe you’d want to learn about the team, maybe you’d want to learn about the culture, maybe you want to learn about the organization, because really, a problem that the customer is presenting is never simple enough.
It usually has legs that are connected to other parts of the organization, or the business that the client is representing. The third type of questions that we need to learn to ask in a discovery or a diagnostic process is questioning to lend. What I mean by lend is lending your experience or talking about your area of expertise. And maybe sometimes it’s not directly related to the conversation at hand.
If ask the right questions, you can actually give your client the ability to lend your experience your strategic thought process and it can work wonders in a conversation because now the client can see you as a trusted adviser, rather than here to make a sale.
And these typically happen in a conversation when you are really following the first two type of questions that have been discussed questioning to learn and questioning to listen, if you’ve done these two, right, you’re definitely going to get an opportunity to be able to ask deeper questions that allow you to lend your experience. For example, when we are talking to a client about a inventory management system, we typically also talk a lot about process.
And this is where it starts to get fun because sometimes, it’s not always the technology system that is missing. It’s also a process that doesn’t line up that there is a gap and and typically, we get to spend some time talking about how the customer can then go ahead and use our experience to better their process. And this gives a great value to the client right away.
Another thing to keep in mind, when you’re talking about asking questions that allow you to lend your experience and expertise is the fact that the customer doesn’t know what he or she doesn’t know, they haven’t even understood what the true problem is, in most cases. And so here is a great time to be able to dig probe and lend your experience so that you’re also pushing the customer’s own awareness.
You’re getting them to think outside the box a little and really challenge the status quo and that might make them sit up and listen and say, Oh, that’s interesting. Never thought of that. And a really good example of these types of questions are have you considered or have you thought about so on and so forth? Or have you discussed this within your teams? Would you consider taking this as an idea to take back to your teams.
Those are great ways to showcase to Your client that you’re not just here to do business, you’re here to lead, you’re here to show them a roadmap of potential solutions, whether they choose to do business with you or not, the fact that they are listening to you and you have their year, this is a great place to leave them with a potential set of solutions. Again, it’s all about providing value. And these are perfect to do just that.
There you have it, folks, four different types of questions that will help you supercharge your discovery process so that you can be very good at selling, and the closing will happen right away, the closing will happen as a result of such a brilliant way of understanding what the problem really is.
Thank you, I hope that you’ve enjoyed this episode. I’m excited for you to try this in your business, and if you would, send me a voice note by going on to elevatedentrepreneur.fm/speak and give me some examples of how you’ve used some of these questions or if you think I’ve missed any, send them over to me, I’d be happy to feature them here on the podcast for you and you know what else you could do for me, send me feedback, tell me how I’m doing.
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