The Power of Discovery Calls

The Power of Discovery Calls

Apart from generating leads and revenue, outbound campaigns are potentially great at giving definitive answers to a sales question: “Do customers who match XXX characteristic have an interest in fixing YYY?”  This learning even works when the campaign is an economic failure.


Quantitative Analysis

Quantitative analysis tells you surprisingly little if the campaign is negative. Our 2021 data analysis showed that reply rates, click rates, open rates, and accept rates have very little correlation to meetings arranged rates.  We have exceptionally performing campaigns with a 7% reply rate while we have failed campaigns with 25+% reply rates.  Apart from the obvious:

  • High bounce rates suggest bad sourcing
  • Low reply rates (coupled by high negative tone) indicates extremely low relevance or poorly disguised automations.


Qualitative Analysis

If we can get high enough reply rates from a ‘failed’ campaign, we can learn a lot from the unbiased replies. (Note, successful campaigns will still have more negative signals than positive signals.)

What is interesting is what type of negative signals are we getting:

  • “Thank you, but we already have an satisfying alternative solution in place” (too late)
  • “Very interesting topic, but we will not put a focus on it for the next 12-24 months” (too early)
  • “I’m not in charge for this and I have no idea who would feel responsible in my organization” (Wrong buyer persona or no problem owner)


When is Qualitative Analysis not possible?:

  • You normally need 200 to 600 names to get enough responses.
  • If reply rates are very low, even 2x these amounts may not be enough.
  • “I’m not interested” tells you nothing.


What you don’t learn:

  • Why do they think the problem is not urgent to fix?
  • What “solution” do they have already for this problem?
  • Is there a problem with the words that were chosen to describe the problem?


Turn your Sales Calls into Discovery Calls

It never fails to surprise people how easy it is to get important market information when you clearly indicate that you are not looking to sell something. Potential customers are often flattered to be recognized as an expert and enjoy being respectfully asked for help. When you have a problem above, consider shifting your sales motions to discovery motions:

  • Explain honestly that you are getting a market signal you don’t know how to interpret, there is a market you don’t know well that they do, or there is a problem area that you need to understand better.
  • Focus on people who match your target profile and their management. How are people describing the problem? What solutions exist or have been tried? How does this problem impact their key objectives and is it a significant impact?


How to change your Email Prospecting Campaign to get you Discovery Calls?

Don’t change the audience

You already sourced the right people from the right companies. Just stop your unsuccessful sales campaigns early and turn the remaining (not contacted yet) contacts into a “Discovery campaign”


Change the tone

While your original (unsuccessful) sales campaign might have been a multichannel campaign with 15 touch points change it to a softer Email-only campaign with only 2 touch points. Also change the tone from a position of success to a position of asking for help to learn and a position of vulnerability.


Change the Call-To-Action (CTA)

Instead of asking for “When can I present you our solution”, ask for “Would you give me 10-15 minutes of your time for a web call to let me know how you feel about XYZ in your business?”


Maybe switch the MeetingMaker on your side

A sales call should be done by senior sales executives. They know how to get from a first call to the second call (exploring the account and identifying problems and other decision makers). A discovery call is about asking the right questions to further invest in more product roadmap and marketing activities – absolutely without the notion to sell something. We see technical subject matter experts doing a great job on Discovery Calls – even if the sales executive is (silently) joining the call as well.


Final words

  • It often happens that a Discovery Call turns into a sale but still, be authentic, stick to your CTA and tell the prospect “that your sales team is happy to present the solution in a separate call” (or “I can schedule a call to talk more about my product, but today I really just need some feedback”).
  • Justify your research with something like “before we invest more on our product and market entry costs, we need to know that there is need and acceptance for what we have”.
  • Email prospecting is still the fastest, cheapest and most unbiased method to discover a new market segment (a.k.a. product-market-fit on segment level).


BizXpand runs Discovery Campaigns for companies that either know that they want to carefully “test and learn” from a specific market segment before they fully commit to market it and companies that learned the hard way that after an unsuccessful sales campaign a bit of discovery is needed to further invest into the offer and/or the market.

Example: In 2022 we helped a client to get additional 4 Discovery Calls out of 160 contacts after a previously unsuccessful sales campaign (3 sales calls out of 400 contacts).  They learned more in those 3 “friendly calls” than they did the previous 12 months of “trying to sell”.


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