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Get in the Driver’s Seat with Discovery

About the Author:

Tom Josephson (LinkedIn) oversees the Solution Consulting team at TCP Software. He’s been in SC leadership for five years after years as an SC. Before that Tom was a middle and high school teacher.

This is part one of a two-part series.

Hit the Brakes on Demo Supremacy

You win or lose deals in discovery. In a value-driven, highly competitive B2B climate, discovery is the most important touchpoint for building trust with buyers and circumventing competitive risks.

Gone are the days when demos win deals. Wins are secured much earlier in the sales cycle.

Discovery is the most important early indicator to your business of deal quality and to your prospects of the value you can offer. It also provides a critical early opportunity to pick up on competitive traps.

Demo quality hinges on discovery quality. If you fail in discovery, your demo will fail to demonstrate value and fail convince decision makers.

Good discovery gets buyers excited for the demo. And great discovery can negate the need for a demo entirely.

Why Most Teams Veer Off Course

Few go-to-market teams excel collectively at discovery, given the complexity of the skills and experience required. Improving discovery is often deprioritized or not attempted because it is such a time- and labor-intensive process, and it seems appealing to focus on easier-to-train aspects of the SC role.

Discovery is hard. It requires sales acumen and technical prowess. It takes both science and art to master conversations and delicately drive them to a desired outcome.

However, when prioritized, scaling effective discovery enablement and processes adds a huge amount of extra horsepower to get more deals across the finish line.

SCs Must Take the Wheel

To optimize outcomes, however, Solutions Consultants must be active leaders and co-owners of the discovery process, not just passive participants.

Many organizations put AEs in the driver’s seat, with SCs on staff as coaches and pit crew. However, this is often an inefficient and ineffective solution. 

Why? Assuming a 3:1 ratio, SCs participate in three times as many discovery calls as Account Executives, so they have much greater exposure to what “good” looks like. They are discovery experts.

After all, if you have Mario Andretti (in his racing prime) on your team, you’re most likely to win if you involve him directly in race strategy and in operating the vehicle.

It’s not just a matter of exposure though. Discovery directly and seriously affects individual and team quota attainment and workflows. SCs can more effectively disqualify deals earlier and focus efforts on high-value opportunities when they co-lead discovery.

Furthermore, allowing SCs to drive discovery yields higher-quality information, both on technical specs/requirements and on pain points and challenges.

Buyers trust SCs more than AEs and tend to speak more freely to a trusted advisor, so putting SCs in charge can be disarming in a positive, mutually beneficial way.

To maximize their impact, SCs should be equal, active partners to their Sales counterparts. This holds true at the leadership level as well. You need to empower your team to step up as equal partners and model that relationship with Sales executives.

Victory Lap

Since assuming ownership of Discovery within our company, my SC team has seen a 42% increase in win rates (calculated as percentage difference).

I’ve observed another, less quantifiable but equally important outcome: individual SCs became more confident in their relationships with Sales, while Account Executives truly began seeing and treating SCs as equal partners in account and deal strategy.

This holds true at the executive level, where we’ve built a more equal partnership with Sales leadership. Our go-to-market organization is better aligned now that we’re not fighting for the wheel.

Further Reading

To learn the details of what our team did, read Part 2 of this series here.

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