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  • Mercer Smith-Looper

3 interesting ways to use surveys for sales discovery


How often do you spend a ton of time working on a new lead… only for them to ghost and never become a client?

There are many reasons why your prospects might disappear, and one of them is that you didn’t do enough discovery. Generating insights about your prospects’ needs can help you customize your discovery calls, demo videos, and other sales resources. So, why aren’t all teams doing it?

The fact is almost all sales teams try to generate insights to help personalize the sales process, but it doesn’t always work. Only 3% of people trust salespeople. The only people lower on the chart are people who work in politics, people who work in stocks, and salespeople specifically for cars

Surveys are a mostly untapped resource in the sales community and can be a low-effort tool to get richer pre-sale insights. Especially for customers that are inherently untrusting, or intimidated by salespeople, a survey they can do on their own time is a great way for them to share what’s important to them.

Pre-sales surveys also save time for your team. They don’t have to talk to leads that may not pan out, and they don’t have to spend countless hours doing due-diligence research before a demo. At least half of your prospects won’t be a good fit for your business. Pre-sales surveys help you discover details about your customers to make the sales process smooth and easy for everyone involved. Here are a few different ways that you can incorporate surveys into your process.

To qualify leads

Whether you’re using the BANT model, the Champ model, or another method of qualifying leads, some well-placed survey questions can get you and your leads in the right headspace to talk shop.

You don’t need to come out and ask how much money they’re looking to spend (though 60% of buyers appreciate it). Even just asking about a lead’s position within their company or what their procurement process looks like can help uncover if you’re talking to a decision-maker or not.

Some questions you might ask in your survey are:

  • Are you in charge of your team’s technology budget?
  • Is there someone else who’s in charge of procurement? If so, will they be joining us for calls?
  • In the next three months, how likely are you to purchase a new technology solution?
  • How many employees are at your company?
  • What is your annual budget for products like this?

Tailor questions to fit the leads that your team sells to and the sales style of your organization. You want the tone of your surveys to match the tone of the calls customers can expect to receive.

Before the demo or discovery meeting

Your discovery meeting or demo can be the first real conversation of a hopefully fruitful relationship. While you might have had a few short chats with a lead, this is the first time you show them what you’re working with.

Using a survey to uncover critical information about your leads allows you to deliver more value from your conversation, avoid basing your discussion off of assumptions, and jump-start the process by surfacing the most meaningful information to them right away.

What we often assume customers want to talk about might not be the case for everyone.

Ask what they want to talk about so that you can make this first meeting meaningful, rather than drudgery. By doing this kind of targeted questioning, companies have shortened their initial calls by 33% and boosted close rates.

Here are a few questions you can use to do the same:

  • If you could change anything, what would be different in your business one year from now? What about in 5 years?
  • What metrics do you want to use to track success with this tool? 
  • What are you currently using to meet your needs in this area?
  • What problems are you experiencing with your current workflow?
  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • If you’ve worked with a company like ours before, what did you like (or not like) about the relationship?
  • Do you have any questions you want to be sure I answer during our call?
  • How can we best support you in making your decision?

Getting clear expectations set on both sides is one of the best ways to move forward efficiently in the sales process and provide a great experience while doing so.

Before closing the deal

If you’re working with medium-size to enterprise businesses, uncovering any prerequisites for the sale can be an especially important step in closing given lengthy sales cycles and the large number of stakeholders involved — an average of 6.8 people in B2B sales.                                            

Understanding any critical needs or procurement specifics can be a great way to expedite a process that otherwise might take a long time. It also gives you a chance to cultivate a bit of the trust some salespeople seem to be lacking.

Influential vendors are significantly more transparent about what they can or cannot do — take a note from them! If you uncover anything in the surveying process that may be a blocker for your customer, it’s better to be honest presale than tarnish a potentially good relationship.

Here are some questions you can consider for this phase of the sales process:

  • What process are you using to evaluate vendors?
  • What requirements or deal-breakers are there for us to be able to work together?
  • What is your timeline for deciding on your purchase?
  • If we can do [X} for you, will you be ready to go with our product/service? If not, what else do you need to make your decision?

These survey questions can save you from conversations that feel potentially difficult or awkward in an in-person chat. It may even help customers be more open and honest about their needs if they don’t need to say them directly to your face.

Knowledge is power

The more you know about your customers, the better the sales experience will be — for both your team and the customer. You may also even open lines of communication with customers that you thought weren’t interested. Companies that survey customers regularly discovered that 30-40% of the leads they thought were cold were still considering them.

Supercharge your demos and calls, maintain communication with leads for whom purchasing is a lower priority, and give your prospects the feeling that you care. Surveying gets around some of the most complicated parts of the sales process with ease. Set them up and let them work as a scalable way to boost your funnel.

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