The average executive has a schedule that resembles Tetris, a tile-matching puzzle video game that’s been hugely popular for decades. What this analogy means to you as a sales professional is that once you’ve wrangled a slot on an executive’s busy schedule, you better maximize the time you have at your disposal because it’s strictly limited and can get awkward.

A discovery call is a challenge at the best of times. At the worst, they tend to feel tedious and often end up being a complete waste of time if not done properly. Nevertheless, a discovery call is integral to a salesperson’s pipeline and bottom line; if it’s successful, it’s an effective source of lead generation. So what can you do to connect with a potential customer so that your discovery call turns into a sale?

Here are five simple things a sales rep can do.

1. Arrive Prepared

The single most important step is to arrive well-prepared; you’ll receive instant brownie points in the client’s mind. Review the customer’s information before the meeting. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • How engaged is the customer’s online audience?
  • What is their web presence? Is it professional? Does it accurately reflect the brand? Does their website need work?
  • How connected are they to social media? Do they engage on Facebook? Is there an Instagram or Pinterest profile? Is their LinkedIn profile complete?
  • What actions do they take to demonstrate their credibility? Do they blog? Have they had any guest blogs posted?

Search for clues that can help you figure out where the business’ pain points are. Step into the conversation prepared to explain how your product or service meets their needs.

2. Keep the Focus Where it Belongs: On the Client

This first call is not about you. Remember, the client contacted you. It’s safe to assume that he or she knows your company’s basic information. Instead of trying to sell yourself during this call, focus on what your prospect’s needs are and the prospect’s basic information. What keeps them awake at night? What are their challenges and struggles? It’s important to ask questions and — of course — listen to the answers. Doing so will help you determine if the person on the phone is appropriate for you and your skill set. Keep in mind that the call is a two-way interview. You both need to determine whether it’s going to be a good fit.

3. Identify Goals

Once you have a pretty solid handle on the client’s pain points, it’s time to identify goals that can help the client move forward. If the prospect doesn’t already have goals in place, create them together. By looking at where the company wants to be, you’re able to justify how your product or service fits into the larger picture. In an ideal situation, you can explain at least one way that you can help immediately. On the other hand, if the goals are completely misaligned with the product or service being offered, you can disqualify with ease.

4. Build Trust

Trust is a big word that has many different connotations. In this case, it means assuring a client that your business is: a) knowledgeable; b) capable; and c) willing to go the extra mile.

There are several ways to build trust during a discovery call. One way is to differentiate between this type of call and a true sales call. In a sales call, you are trying to persuade someone to do what you want. In a discovery call, you’re trying to discover whether your product or service meets a prospective client’s needs.

Another way to build trust is to provide the potential client with valuable resources. While you don’t want to lay all your cards on the table, it’s critical to offer something helpful, such as an e-book, white paper, or webinar, so that you are perceived as a trusted advisor.

5. Give it Up — For Free

No one wants to feel like a schmuck, and it’s easy to feel that way if you’re giving away your services for free. However, a successful sales lead generation often starts with building credibility. Here’s how.

As you’re taking notes about the conversation, highlight or circle any problems the company faces that you could easily remedy. Toward the end of the call, offer the client a simple solution to one of their problems — for free. Don’t ask for payment. What you’re doing is building credibility and trust. You’re proving yourself to be an expert and showing that you can be accommodating without any expectations of reciprocation.

Even though discovery calls can be challenging, they are integral to a salesperson’s pipeline and bottom line. Just as much attention ought to be focused on nailing this initial “meet-and-greet” phone call as is given to the closing call. Follow these tips to turn a discovery call into a sale.