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March 26, 2015

Live or Die by Your Discovery

Adam Slutskin
Chief Revenue Officer
ConnectWise, Inc.
How to Use Discovery Questions for Sales

Imagine you are a TV detective tasked with solving mysterious crimes.

My personal favorite is Detective Colombo. He doesn’t look like a guy who could find his way to the police station, much less solve a murder or question a witness. He looks like he just woke up after sleeping in his coat.

Of course, all of this was done by design–his goal was simply to get people to open up and talk. He discovered at some point that this might be tricky if he was wearing a $3000 suit and carrying a shiny police badge.

When he realized that he was talking to a great witness, or that he could very likely solve a murder on the spot, he DID NOT do what most of us do in sales. He didn’t dance around the room shouting, “I solved the murder! This guy did it! He just indirectly confessed! I can take the rest of the day off!!”

What he did was ask for clarification. He made a note in his book, and he told the person he was talking to to have a good day. His trademark move was to ask one more question on his way out the door. His “prospects” (suspects or witnesses generally) were so disarmed by this practice that they often answered without thinking, thereby doing Colombo’s job for him most of the time.

Know the Case

Even if you do live in Miami Beach and drive a Ferrari, there is something to be said for leaving it in the garage when you have that first call or prospect meeting. Your prospect in some cases will be a small business owner who is still making payments on his five-year-old Toyota. He has to make decisions about his company’s IT needs maybe 2-3 times in his entire career. You help people make these decisions all day long.

There are always exceptions, but more often than not I channel Colombo by leaving my materials in the car. I don’t talk pricing because I have no idea how much to charge until I have done at least one interview. If the prospect has a picture of himself on a charter fishing boat in Cabo, I WON’T ask the obvious question, because every single sales guy that walks in there starts out with, “Heyyyyyyyy! Nice fish!”

Collect Clues

Ron Williams, my partner on the LabTech Business Success team, taught me to look at the carpeting. If it looks like it was installed during the first Bush administration, you might have an issue with a company that doesn’t see the value of investing in itself.

I’ll ask prospects what made them want to be a tax attorney from the time they were five years old, or if they like working with computers themselves. I want to sniff out the guy who wants to tinker with the server, then call me to clean up the mess.

If you don’t have enough good discovery questions (your detective skills are lacking) or you are asking questions that your prospects have heard 50 times before, the LabTech Business Success team can help. When the prospect “can’t afford your offering” or “can’t take the project on right now,” we can teach you how to read the clues, gather evidence, and present a case that wins their business.

You will not cry. You will not beg. You will not discount, and you will not argue. You will ask one more question. That question will hammer your findings home, and if you ask it in the right way, you will leave your prospects wondering how they ever lived without you.

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Adam Slutskin Chief Revenue Officer
ConnectWise, Inc.


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