How Cuvama supports 7 levels of discovery skills
March, 2022 | Written by Leyre Iniguez
20% of salespeople are responsible for 80% of sales. It’s a common problem facing sales leaders across all industries. At Cuvama we believe that a big cause of this problem in the subscription B2B industry is that just a small proportion of their team can consistently win sales and start customer relationships agreeing on customer success outcomes and value. Ultimately, poor discovery costs your business money.
That’s because the best salespeople invest time early in the sales cycle to align on success outcomes and value. The rest don’t.
And a relationship based on customer success outcomes starts with a great sales discovery.
Enter the Seven Levels of Discovery—a framework created by author and coach Peter Cohan. It describes seven increasingly thorough approaches that salespeople can take to discovery. It helps salespeople understand the level they currently sell at and what they need to improve their discovery.
In January, we held a webinar with Peter who explained how the Seven Levels of Discovery can help all your salespeople perform like your best 20%. Peter is the founder of GreatDemo! and believes that better discovery is the key to growing sales and higher customer lifetime value. He helps software organisations achieve their sales and marketing objectives by making their demos crisp, compelling and effective.
He was joined by our co-founder, Alex Smith, who explained how customer value management technology, like Cuvama, empowers salespeople to have effective discovery conversations with their customers. In short, “Cuvama guides and coaches salespeople through an outcomes centric sales process and helps them sell at level seven,” says Alex.
In this blog we’ll explain what was discussed. First, let’s take a deeper look at why great discovery is important.
Getting discovery right
Successful long-term subscription relationships are based on achieving customer success outcomes and delivering value throughout the customer lifecycle. Sales discovery is the basis for the entire customer relationship, so it’s vital to connect with the desired success outcomes of the customer during this phase.
Discovery starts at the sale, but it doesn’t end with a closed deal. At Cuvama we consider that sales, customer success, marketing and product all need to be aligned on how they deliver value and success outcomes to their customers.
To align on success outcomes and reach buyer consensus, it is also vital that during the discovery phase sellers and customers are empowered to define success outcomes and build value assessments collaboratively—rather than the seller leading the customer. Collaborative digital platforms like Cuvama are needed to support this.
If your discovery is poor, you won’t have the foundation to deliver value. This results in:
- Increase in customers declining
- Higher customer acquisition cost
- Reduced predictability, lower win rates, smaller initial deals
- Reduced visibility and reliability of revenue
- Stifled account expansion due to a lack of credible results, reduced retention
Now that you have a clear understanding of why discovery is so important, let’s look at the different stages Peter and Alex discussed.
Level one salespeople make sure to understand the business challenges or pains the customer is facing. They will not make any solution suggestion yet.
Cuvama guides the salesperson to ask prescriptive questions and uncover business challenges. It prompts them to:
- Ask simple segmentation and qualification questions to ensure the customer is a good fit and the salesperson can be prescriptive at the next stage.
- Capture typical business challenges using segment-based suggestions. The salesperson captures those that are applicable and adds any that are missing.
- Create a digital record they can share with the customer and collaborate on.
Level two salespeople deeply explore the business challenge or pain by asking more questions. This allows them to uncover organisational pain.
Sellers at this level don’t know what questions to ask due to a lack of experience or knowledge. Cuvama prompts them with suggested questions, giving them confidence to dive deeper.
- Salespeople are presented with challenge-specific information that help them go deeper
- New salespeople can access just-in-time enablement materials to support them in the conversation
Level three salespeople find out who else is affected by the business challenges they have discovered—for example, colleagues in other departments. A key feature of level three selling is to keep asking “why?” until you get to the root of the problem.
Cuvama guides the salesperson to explore the wider organisational pain by suggesting business KPIs that can be impacted by those agreed challenges. The salesperson is prompted to ask the customer which are important specifically and to estimate the impact that achieving each KPI will have. They can also add KPIs that don’t yet exist on Cuvama.
Level four salespeople seek to quantify the impact of KPIs. If you don’t do this, it’s difficult to set customer service expectations or assign a monetary value to your solution. A great salesperson will ask their client to quantify both the pain points and the solution.
Cuvama guides salespeople to quantify KPIs with their customers. It automatically populates the expected impacts and assigns a value to them—considering of course that not all the KPIs can be always monetised. This value is usually presented as a range rather than a definitive amount.
Part of a salesperson’s job is to educate customers on how their solution can overcome their unique business challenges. They do this by asking biased questions that help to differentiate their product.
Cuvama provides salespeople with arguments for each business challenge and KPI; explaining how their solution helps and why it is important. This helps clients visualise what a solution to their problem could look like.
At this stage salespeople need to explore the psychology that drives the customers’ decision-making and adapt their conversation and questions accordingly.
Cuvama allows you to personalise elements of your discovery process to each unique customer. It does this by presenting a range of segment-based standard challenges and KPIs to the salesperson during discovery. The salesperson then personalises this discovery by editing the wording of existing challenges or KPIs, or even by adding new ones raised by the customer. They can also go a step further by adding additional notes and information.
At level 7, salespeople don’t just rely on their sales skills—they approach discovery as a methodology. This requires organisational change, but it creates a culture where the business is focused on delivering customer outcomes. To do this a company needs to focus its strategy, processes, proposition, and people on delivering value.
Cuvama helps with all four of these areas:
- Strategy: It provides a consistent and predictable framework to guide salespeople through discovery. This ensures true value is uncovered and digitally recorded in a uniform way for every customer.
- Processes: The digital discovery record can be shared with the whole company ensuring all departments understand what outcomes are required for each customer.
- Proposition: Product marketing teams can collate the findings from all discoveries and assess their product against them.
- People: Cuvama provides a standardised discovery process that guides new salespeople to ask the right questions and discover the right information. This allows them to be more successful and helps them to quickly get to grips with their industry.