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This report shares the insight from Cuvama’s research into why B2B SaaS sales reps struggle in discovery (despite investment in training, enablement and methodologies).
We interviewed reps from over 35 B2B SaaS companies to better understand the where reps struggle in discovery, the gaps in their current enablement, and what would better support them in consistently executing good discovery.
- All reps researched knew discovery was important but most struggled with consistent execution – 85% said they struggled to get the prospect to open up
- Poor execution was due to a lack of rep credibility, confidence and knowledge – 78% struggled to connect pain to business impact and metrics, 68% said they lacked the industry / persona knowledge to probe deeper
- Where reps struggled most in discovery aligned to the gaps in their current enablement. All said current enablement focused on why discovery needed to be done, but not how to execute it well in real life. 81% said they did not regularly use company-produced enablement to guide discovery conversations, 66% said they didn’t have enough customer stories to share in their discovery conversation to gain credibility
“None of the enablement provided actually helps me have a good discovery conversation. Every rep gets trained and has a methodology, but actually applying that in real sales cycles is down to the individual rep. And those that do it consistently well are the top 10% performers.”
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Pssst…While you’re here and interested in discovery, don’t miss our:
- Ultimate Guide to MEDDPICC – the most popular sales discovery methodology
- Value Selling Framework – to implement and scale value selling
- How to nail and scale the Challenger Sales methodology
- Our guide to aligning your whole company to Customer Value
Why we conducted the research
All B2B Sales leaders know discovery is one of the most critical sales cycle stages. At Cuvama, we believe that most deals are won or lost because of something done (or not done) in discovery.
Yet despite this general acknowledgement of discovery’s importance, research shows that 80% of reps fail to do proper discovery.
Too often, reps rush to pitch products before they’ve truly understood and aligned on a prospect’s pain, their reason for change, and the outcomes they’re looking to achieve.
They may have uncovered one pain and thought it was enough. Or they could have assumed they knew the prospect’s pain and ploughed ahead with a demo.
Whatever the reason, reps struggle to do consistently good discovery despite the investment in training, enablement and methodologies.
“We struggle to get the prospect to engage to discuss value – they just want to follow their process.”
And it’s no surprise—discovery is often the most challenging part of a sales rep’s job. This is especially the case at companies that have complex value propositions. Sellers in these companies need to navigate different personas in different industries, each with different problems and looking for different outcomes.
Add this complexity to the fact that prospects tend to have sizeable pre-existing tech stacks and little patience for those selling “just another product promising generic benefits”.
The impact of all of this on B2B software companies is that a large proportion of deals:
- Take far too long to close.
- Are poorly qualified.
- Lose to ‘no decision’ at the final stage.
So we decided to find out why.
If discovery is so important, why do reps still struggle?
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Research methodology and goals
We wanted to find out why if discovery is so important, B2B sales reps still struggle with it despite the investment in training, enablement and methodologies.
We interviewed sales reps from over 35 B2B SaaS companies to understand, from their perspective:
- Do reps see discovery as important?
- What did they think was important to uncover in discovery?
- How were they enabled today and where were the gaps?
- Where did they struggle most in discovery?
- What was needed to enable them to perform good discovery consistently?
Based on the findings we also gave our recommendations on how to overcome the most common challenges reps faced.
“The biggest challenge is switching between industries very different from one another. A sales rep needs to be an expert in each.”
Rep's top 5 challenges in discovery
- 85% said getting the prospect to engage in discovery, open up and share information about their business.
- 78% said being able uncover the business impact of the pain and talk about metrics.
- 72% said it was very hard to identify the real business driver for change—how these pains and metrics combined to put at risk a strategic priority, i.e. the Critical Business Issue.
- 68% said they struggled to have enough knowledge to probe and question the prospect to go deeper in the many different sales situations they faced.
- 66% said finding and sharing relevant customer stories (primarily verbally but also for use in the prep and follow up) was a major issue, as they either didn’t exist, were too hard to find, or rarely contained the right information.
“If the problem the champion shares cannot be tied back to a measurable business impact then the deal will not happen. No metrics, not sale”
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Read the full report to understand:
- The biggest challenges reps say they face in discovery
- How reps are enabled today in discovery and the gaps in this enablement
- What companies can be doing to better enable their reps to consistently execute good discovery
“We need something that tells us exactly how we can help our prospect. Guided selling based on the type of prospect, the typical pain they face and the typical outcomes we can drive for them. It’s really hard to memorise all of that information and apply it correctly.”