How to NOT be Stood Up for a Discovery Call

How many of you remember being stood up for a date at the movie theater in high school? If you are under the age of 30, as I assume many of you are, this took the form of a last-minute “emergency” text message.

In B2B sales, however, “no shows” more closely resemble how your parents would have been stood up during their formative years; neither forewarning nor explanation. Only radio silence.

If repeated, this becomes a constant source of tension between the AD and SDR teams. The SDR does not understand why, the AD feels that their time has been wasted, and the sales manager is left to arbitrate what most often resembles a teenagers’ squabble.

So, how do we ensure that this does not happen? Before we can answer that question, we must understand why it happens.

Why? But why?

There are three possible reasons why your prospect turned into a ghost.

First, they were being “excessively polite”. They took your call and could not say no. They may not receive many solicitation or simply dislike offering up rejection. In either case, they were neither sales ready nor sufficiently motivated to champion an initiative internally. So, pay these prospects no mind.

Second, they may have had a scheduling conflict. They are interested in your solution and had every intention of making the meeting, but a higher priority meeting or emergency came up. Again, very little that can be done to avoid their no-show.

If neither of the aforementioned reasons apply, it is time for some introspection. You must accept the cold hard reality that you did not create sufficient reason for them to attend. They either learned enough about your product to make a follow on meeting redundant or you have not clearly articulated how they will benefit from learning more.

If we agree that sales is about offering value to customers, we should not be surprised that this last category does not show up to our discovery call or demo. So, how do we make sure that we are offering value?

The Recipe for Success

Let’s go back to the fundamentals of a cold call. Regardless of which sales methodology that you ascribe to, the recipe for creating value is the same.

First, your prospect must understand the benefits of using your software. Forget about your newest features. Talk to them about how people in similar roles at similar organizations are using your solution to drive results, and why this would also be the case for them if they were to buy. The “how to” step, or features conversation, is better left for the discovery call.

Second, the benefits must address specific challenges that they are currently facing. Please take note of the pluralization. Unless your solution solves a single MASSIVE headache for your particular prospect, you will usually require two or three improvements over your prospects current arrangement to justify speaking at a later date. It is far easier for your prospect to diminish the impact of a single pain, than that of three.

Furthermore, beware of the efficiency pitch. Process, regardless of efficiency, results in habit and habits are hard to break. Sidestep all of this by focusing on where they are missing opportunities, independent of additional work that could be done were they to have more time.

Finally, though we focused on the substance of the call, do not neglect its style. Your solicitation is, likely, one of many that they will receive that day. Make it easy for them to remember which one was yours. Recap your conversation via email, highlight their key pains and provide an agenda for the discovery call that addresses how your solution will alleviate them. In this way, your prospect will feel confident to push out any other requests for their time on the day of that next call.

No more Radio Silence

Remember that as an SDR, much as with dieting, there is no silver bullet solution. Success is contingent upon incremental improvements to process. So remember that the three-step formula above will not prevent your AD from experiencing radio silence, but it should increase the average volume.


-Justin Peimani-

Justin manages an eight person SDR team at Askuity, a retail analytics startup based in Toronto, Canada. Askuity helps retail sales organizations leverage sales data to improve both account management and retail execution. When not working, you can find Justin at playing squash or eating Chinese food.

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