Determine if a lead has the potential to become a customer (i.e. do they fit your ICP?) so that you can create a compelling value proposition and drive the sale.
Congrats — you’ve defined your ICP, conducted outreach, and landed your first meeting! Now that you have prospective customers interested in your solution, it’s important to have a strong Qualification and Discovery process to qualify and ultimately close deals. Discovery is not only a typical gap in a Founder’s sales efforts, but it is usually where most get stuck when a Board Member or VP of Sales candidates ask:
“Why do companies buy from you?”
“Why do they feel the urgency to buy your solution now?”
“Who signs the contract?”
“Why are you willing to bet on that person?”
This section will outline the discovery process we suggest from working alongside our founders to close their first few customers at Unusual through our GAP engagement. A quick note that we intentionally forego covering topics including Decision Process, Buying Process, Finding a Champion, etc. that other more formal sales guides might include. We’ll touch more on these processes in future posts.
Before we dive into how to run an effective discovery meeting, it’s important to highlight where most founders go wrong when they start the discovery process. Many founders consider Discovery, Validation, and Qualification synonymous, but they are three distinct processes. Each plays a role in driving a deal forward or indicating there is no deal at all.
VP Sales Questions: “Why is this company a good fit for us?”
Most first-time founders or salespeople will mistake discovery with qualification. Qualification is a separate process of screening or “qualifying” prospects to ensure they are a good fit for your solution (an ICP). In other words, one uses the discovery process to uncover critical information and then qualifies the opportunity to make sure they would be a good fit for the solution and a good use of the team’s limited time/resources.
With the amount of publicly available information out there on prospects and their companies, you should be able to qualify most critical topics before you ever get on the phone/Zoom. You can then use the conversation to answer any remaining open questions. Qualifying upfront helps prevent costly situations where your team wastes long cycles on potential deals, only to later realize that the prospect never had the appropriate technology stack to implement your solution. Find ways to mitigate these problems early and often by being as disciplined as possible about your qualification process.
Some examples of qualification criteria (before the call) below:
You can use the information you gather through qualification to “score” the opportunity:
Scoring opportunities by using a rubric like the one above can help you better prioritize your team’s time and resources to only pursue prospects that are most likely to become paying customers.
Continue on to Discovery 101.
Here is an overview from our Fall Founder Workshops: