Strategy.pngSales is about fundamentals. There’s a problem. You have a solution. Getting your buyer to see that your solution is the best one is the critical component to being a successful salesperson. Unfortunately, even the most veteran salespeople can become lazy – forgetting that basic needs discovery can make or break an opportunity. Deals are won and lost on effective discovery.

Here are the three most common mistakes that hurt a sales discovery process.

Being Too Product Focused

Even if your company has the latest and greatest function to hit the market, you can’t rely on that function to fuel your sales conversations. There is no magic bullet to success. If that function is not what the buyer needs, you’ll sound like you aren’t listening or you’ll sound too expensive. We call that Seller Deficit Disorder. The remedy is to listen to your buyers, and align your solution and differentiation with what matters to them.

Assuming Needs are All the Same

Good salespeople know that the discovery process is most effective when you are talking to more than one person in the prospect organization. Your ability to build business value is directly tied to how broad of a problem you can uncover. Don’t assume the pain point of the marketing buyer, for example, is the same as the sales buyer. You need to determine the requirements and the outcomes each buyer is trying to achieve. If you narrow your discovery too much, you’ll also be narrowing the size of your deal.

Not Digging Deep Enough

Too often, salespeople let the discovery stage go by too quickly. By nature, salespeople are problem solvers. They want to offer solutions. That tendency can hurt the discovery process. Surface problems are often the result of bigger issues that demand large-scale solutions. If you don’t dig deep with your discovery, you’ll miss the opportunity to (1) gain wide-spread agreement on your solution and (2) increase the size of the solution.

Remember to ask open-ended questions that get the buyer to point to the people, process and activities affected by the business problem. For instance, a rep might say, “Please describe the typical way your team goes about this activity now, including people involved and the steps included.” This question will allow you to understand the multiple people that could benefit from your solution. Your next steps should be to get time with each of them.