Move from sales rep to trusted adviser with the right discovery call preparation

Posted January 10, 2018

Chelsey feldman headshot

By Chelsey Feldman

Product Marketing at Outreach

Why always be prepared is the new always be closing.

Trust is a non-renewable resource, and it may be running out. Look at it from the buyer's perspective. Buyers have a hard time trusting sales reps because they’ve been burnt. The Harvard Business Review found that buyers consider just 18 percent of sales reps to be trusted advisers. Those are bleak numbers, considering buyers rely on sales reps to help make huge purchasing decisions that can often put their jobs on the line! Almost half of buyers said that they believe sales reps push their own agendas exclusively, and a quarter said sales reps only care about making a sale.

We know that’s not true, but rather the actions of a couple bad apples ruining the reps of the entire barrel of sales people. If you’re on our blog, the odds are good that you’re in this game to make your prospects more successful and help your company bring new innovations to market.

So how do you rise above the rest and elevate your status from “just another sales rep” to a knowledgeable advisor that your prospects trust as they make a huge financial investment for their company?

By coming to every meeting sufficiently prepared and completely knowledgeable about what your prospect needs, you can set yourself apart from the other reps who are just phoning it in and show you care. In 2018, always be prepared is the new always be closing - here are three strategies that will have you ready to crush every sales call and wowing your prospects with the amount of due diligence and attention to detail you bring to the table.

1. Do your due diligence

Forrester research on buyer engagement revealed that:

  • 37% of buyers see sales reps as not knowledgeable enough.
  • 57% say sales reps don’t understand the buyer’s industry.

It’s a tough catch 22 -- you might be working dozens of accounts at once, yet you need to be 100% up to speed every time you jump on the phone with someone new. Top sales reps are adapting to this new reality with tech that seriously cuts down on research time while preparing them more thoroughly for the prospect’s questions.

One easy solution to this need for endless research while honoring the limited time in your day is to set up your Sales Intelligence Tiles to answer the questions you need for any given call. 

A screenshot of the prospect view in the Outreach sales execution platform

Intelligence Tiles allow you to answer your most common questions about a prospect from the basics, like “what does this company do?” to the more advanced, like “what big news or events has this company experienced recently?” And rather than putting on your Nancy Drew hat and scouring Google to answer all of these questions for every. single. prospect... you can see all this info at a glance in Outreach.

Now you only need two minutes tops to do your pre-call research, and bring your A-game to every call. After all, buyers won’t trust a rep who doesn’t understand their industry or their needs.

2. Demonstrate you’re on the same team with active listening

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone, and rather than reacting to your specific statements, it sounds like the person on the other end is reading off a completely irrelevant script? These are the reps who are losing deals -- whether it’s because their company has out of date policies that tie them to scripts that don’t work in the moment or the rep in question is taking the easy way out by using scripted responses instead of critical thinking.

Prove to the prospect that you are one of those rare sales reps that actually cares about fixing their problems, not just hitting your number. Find out what frustrates them most, even if the problem goes beyond what your solution can handle. Ask about the outcomes they need, rather than listing the features you provide. Think one step ahead and ask them about their entire process, not just the specific piece of the puzzle you’re solving. And then, sell your solution based on the answers they give you.

It’s simple, but people want to feel like you’re listening to them. By showing your prospect you hear what they’re saying and understand their problems, you’re more than just another sales rep - you’re someone who can help them overcome challenges, level up their team’s performance, and maybe even get that promotion they’ve had their eye on.

3. Prepare for the questions you expect to be asked

Forrester Research found that 70 percent of buyers report sales reps are not prepared to answer questions. What a turn off for buyers! How can you trust someone to understand your needs when they can’t even understand a basic question.

Yet, this situation is all too common, especially on account-based sales teams. Reps are trained solely to qualify prospects and set a meeting. Yet, they’re on the phone with real people having a real conversation, and usually buyers have a few questions before they agree to give you 30 minutes of their limited time. Reps need to be prepared to answer questions or else you risk losing your prospect to a more prepared competitor.

The best way to combat this situation is to take inventory of the questions your team is usually asked in different stages of the buying process, and prepare answers accordingly. Level up by persona-lizing, and having a few different answers tailored to different industries and buyer personas. You don’t have to have every answer to every question (it’s ok to admit you don’t know - we’re all human!). But by capturing the low hanging fruit (those questions you know are coming), you can look informed and prepared -- two qualities that will build trust with your buyer as you guide them through a big purchase.

Want to get a bonus gold star? Send a case study relevant to your prospect’s industry/persona ready right after your call to help answer the questions they didn’t even ask!

Working for Trust

The best way to earn the prospect’s trust in the sales meeting is to arm yourself with more relevant content. A prepared, knowledgeable sales rep is already ahead of four-fifths of the competition, ready to build rapport and earn the trust of the agreement network. This moves you past the “sales rep” label and into the role of a trusted advisor.

Never forget that buyers are risking more than just their budgets. They're risking their professional reputations and maybe even their careers. Would you risk your reputation on someone you don’t trust to help you make the best decision for your business?


Read more

Discover the Sales Execution Platform
See how Outreach helps sellers close over 2 million opportunities every month.