Discovery, the process of understanding the prospects critical business issues, is arguably, the most important part of the sales process. All other things being equal, the best discovery wins the day. However, all other things are never equal. And, the best discovery entails much more than asking the standard “high yield” questions that every salesperson in your space will ask. The unspoken observations that you make about the person (s), culture, and where the corporation is in its lifecycle, and the additional insight that you bring to the table, are just as important, if not more important than the verbal answers to your “high yield” questions. Unfortunately, most salespeople are so hell-bent on getting these answers that they miss some of the most “high yield” observations. (I will discuss more about these high yield observations in an upcoming post).
One of Koichi Tohei’s 4 basic principles of coordinating mind and body in any endeavor is “Relax Completely”. However, the English translation of this does not tell the whole story. In Japanese the principle reads “Zenshin no chikara o kanzen ni nuku” Roughly translated, this means to take the power of everything that you are and have ever been, physically, mentally, and spiritually, and throw it all away. Another way to say it is if if all of your knowledge and understanding is liquid in a cup, dump it all out. Now, if this were a Zen exercise, the Sensei may tell you to now throw out the cup. But I’m not sure it would be a good idea to be staring at your prospect in a state of transcendental bliss with spilt coffee all over the floor. So, put your cup aside but not completely out of reach.
In order to pick up on subtle, unspoken behaviors about people, relationships, and culture, you must be calm. You must be free from your agenda. You must be like the calm water that accurately reflects the environment around you. Allow the prospect to drive the discussion where he wants to take it and gradually you can pick up your cup and start adding your knowledge to the mix. You must completely take on your prospects perspective before you can become one with it.
Before your next discovery meeting take some time to empty yourself. Tell colleagues that are attending the discovery with you that you want to understand the spoken AND the unspoken. “Relax Completely” and allow the prospect the space to tell you their story, with and without words.