The Ultimate List of 40 B2B Scale Your Sales Productivity Discovery Profiling Questions

By Janice B Gordon | Sales Productivity

Jul 23
SYS Discovery Profile Process - Janice B Gordon

Purchasing is now a group effort requiring sign-off from a multiple of stakeholders; which Scale Your Sales Productivity Profile solves. In a recent CEB study states that an average of 5.4 people is involved in the B2B purchase decision. It’s critical to learn the dynamics of each of your customer group purchasing units.

I have worked with many sales teams who have nurtured a prospective customer and got the agreement of their solution and when they thought the deal was signed it mysteriously goes south. Having invested a lot of time and energy the deal is dead in the water.

I Know This a Familiar Story for Salespeople

The reason is 99% of the time that the salesperson did not nurture all the stakeholders in the decision-making unit and a key influencer (any number of unknown people) killed the deal.

One way of avoiding this situation is to make discovery calls a crucial part of your research and sales process. The discovery calls can be delivered in online or face to face meeting and must come pre-sale and then continue during and post-sale. Importantly, you never stop collecting relevant information to refine your messaging, your proposition and proposal your follow-up process. It is the first call after connecting with a prospective buyer and is an essential part of securing a position in the sales process. The discovery questions set the tone for the entire relationship and imply ‘I am here for you customer’ you must establish an authentic but authoritative connection, or your sales process will stall, and you will be playing catch-up, or worst lose the deal later in the process.

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The Scale Your Sales Productivity System

Scale Your Sales Productivity system is made up of three element Priority, Profile and Promise. Priority is the selection and segmentation process, and Promise is about the engagement strategy. Today, I am going to talk about the Profile element and how you get to deep dive discover your most valued customers.

Scale Your Sales Productivity helps your business speak directly to your most valued customers to solve their specific needs.

Only then can your business succeed in achieving your sales ambitions. Scale Your Sales Productivity Profile gives the structure in a useful tool that helps your sales team understand the dynamics of your customer decision-making units and the purchasing requirements and processes of your diverse and knowledgeable customer base. Profile delivers the relevant information for your salespeople in a clear and succinct format.

Profiling is not about creating a customer avatar it goes far deeper than this. It is the process of gaining a deeper understanding of the individual stakeholders in your customer organisation. So that your salespeople can usefully tailor their activities and create proposals for the specific needs of the various buyers, influencers and decision-makers.

The Discovery Profiling Process

What you get is a detailed understanding of your prospective buyer 360 situation and what you give is either an understanding of what your company uniquely offers them or give insight and knowledge critical to the buyer’s problem evaluations and decision-making process.

Critically you must leave the prospective buyer knowing that you understand their problem and can trust that you will help them make a professional assessment to determine the best solution for their specific problem.

Once either marketing or sales have qualified the prospective buyer giving the top line potential opportunity and the stakeholder-level qualification, here the IBM, BANT qualification framework is a useful method (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline).  Then your sales team must deep-dive with your sales discovery questions.

The Ultimate List of 40 B2B Sales Discovery Questions

  1. Tell me more about your company.
  2. Tell me more about your customers?
  3. Why do you think your customers buy from you instead of anyone else?
  4. Who do you see as your main competitors?
  5. Tell me more about your role.
  6. I understand the company mission, and I am interested in your ambitions and goals for your role and position?
  7. What are your day-to-day pressures?
  8. I am interested in understanding what metrics you are responsible for?
  9. Tell me about your business and functional goals (financial, customer-related, operational).
  10. What is the timescale for achieving these goals?
  11. What fundamental problem are you trying to solve right now?
  12. What significant problems do you see in the future?
  13. Are you having problems in (state the area that relates to your product)?
  14. What are the key drivers of this problem?
  15. Have you addressed this problem previously?
  16. Where does this fall on your list of business priorities?
  17. If it is a priority then, why is this a priority today?
  18. Who specifically sees it as a priority in the company?
  19. What is this problem affecting/costing your business/customer?
  20. What do you think could be a potential solution? Why?
  21. If there were no barriers, what would a successful outcome look like?
  22. Is there a plan in place to address this problem?
  23. What are your primary obstacles to implementing this plan?
  24. Is there a timeline for implementation?
  25. Is there a budget ringfenced to solve this problem?
  26. Whose budget does the funding come out of?
  27. Tell me more about the budget holder?
  28. Is the budget holder an advocate for or against the/a solution?
  29. Can you elaborate on who else will be involved in choosing a vendor?
  30. Do you have written decision criteria for selecting a vendor? Who compiled these criteria?
  31. I am curious to understand if your company has purchased a similar product before?
  32. So, is this a competitive situation?
  33. It would be beneficial to understand your process for purchasing the product once you decide on a vendor?
  34. I know every company has different reviews – are there legal or/and procurement reviews?
  35. Can you see any potential curveballs?
  36. What can I do to help make this easy for you?
  37. How will this solution make your life better?
  38. How will this solution benefit your functional/companies goals for the year?
  39. Having implemented your best solution, how will it help your function/company/customer in one year?
  40. Is there anything else you think I have missed or need to know?

You would be crazy to ask all 40 questions in one session, that would look more like an interrogation!  However, you may use these questions in a 2 or 3 step discovery profiling process, as a means disqualify the prospective customer or to get in front of the buyer with authority. Use these questions as a point of discussion to build rapport and develop the relationship and establish your expert status; when you get information, give information, share knowledge, educate with insight, make helpful recommendations, share your connections and facilitate referrals.

Remember relationship building is a slow process, however, even if you disqualify the prospect as a customer, this is still an opportunity to build the relationship and develop your connections.

If you do not come out of this discovery profiling process with a clear understanding of the buyers need, priority, budget, authorities and influencers; do not move forward until you do. If you want to avoid the sale going south at the eleventh hour, after all, your arduous work, you must proceed only when you can define the sales opportunity in detail with a specific solution. The next stage in the system depends on you being able to create the sales strategy that engages all the stakeholders in this decision-making purchasing process.

Feel free to contact us to book a discovery call about how Scale Your Sales System could work for your sales team.

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About the Author

Janice is a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield School of Management. She is passionate about helping companies adapt their sales approach to the economic, social and technological challenges. This has led her to create the popular the sales enablement system, Scale Your Sales. Janice is the international Strategic Account Sales Speaker, author and consultant, achieving many noted accolades including Sage Top100 Global Business Influencer 2017. Contact Janice today about Scaling your Sales