White_Board_Graph_UpFinding a customer problem is the first step to winning the business. If you uncover a problem that has business implications, you set the stage for closing an opportunity that’s hinged on value.

Remember, there is no value without a customer problem.

The way to uncover that problem is by asking great questions that drive an effective discovery session. Here are five components to executing an effective discovery-based conversation and uncovering new business opportunities.

1. Open-Ended vs. Closed-Ended

This tip is much easier said than done. You want your questions to be open-ended so they elicit more than just a yes or no response. How do you do that? Well, start with what you want the customer to say. Then, work backwards. What question could you ask to get that person to talk about that topic?

2. T-E-D

A great way to execute open-ended questions is to remember the TED acronym. Start your questions with statements like “Tell me”, “Explain for me” and “Describe for me.” These statements help to drive a two-sided conversation. That dialogue will drive the kind of engagement you need to uncover high-level business problems.

3. Question Flow

Take some time in advance of your conversation to think about the flow of your questioning. You want your questions to follow a logical flow, and you don’t want it to appear that you’re running through a list of questions. Start broad and then get specific. Use the prospect’s answer to inform your next question.

4. Trap-Setting Questions

Trap-setting questions are nothing more than discovery questions meant to show your competitor’s weaknesses. They highlight the value that a customer will receive with your solution and the components they won’t have if they choose your competitor. Be prepared with some questions that will get the prospect to articulate the importance of traits your solution has that your competitor’s doesn’t.

5. Compel to Take Action

At the end of a great discovery session, your prospect should walk away compelled to take action. They should believe that your line of questioning got them thinking about areas of value that they hadn’t yet fully comprehended.