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The role of an outbound prospector in any business can be tough. It can be even tougher if the company you work for does not provide you with the systems and processes to maximize conversions at every stage of the front-end sales process. In the headline of this article, I have made a very bold promise. That is a promise I am going to deliver on.

You see, this isn’t just headline rhetoric or bait and switch ‘copy’ skills to entice you in to reading. What I am going to outline in a few simple steps is one single strategy which will TRIPLE your conversions from first telephone conversation to meetings or in-depth discovery calls.

Before I outline the strategy, I’d like to get clear on a few of the terms that will be used to demonstrate this.

Cell phoneScoping call: This is the first call you have with a prospect to determine if they are a fit for your organization and if they should move to the next step in your sales process. This is usually a 5 – 10 minute call, and very often is a result of an outbound cold email or ‘warm call’

Discovery call: The discovery call is the next step in your sales process. This is usually a more in-depth call or face-to-face meeting from 20 – 60 minutes. It can be a consultative questioning session, a product demonstration or a collaborative solution call. It can be called many things such as a demo, strategy call, face-to-face and of course a discovery session. In most sales organizations it is becoming usual for a specialized sales prospector or Sales Development Representative (SDR) to have the scoping call and hand off to an Account Executive (AE) for the discovery call, but the same person may be doing the two parts of the process. For simplification of my writing I’ll call the next engagement a discovery call.

OK – now we have that covered, it’s time for a quick straw poll. When you or members of your team get a prospect on the telephone for the first time and enter into your scoping call, which of the following things is it essential to sell in that call?:

  • Your product/solution benefits
  • Your brand positioning
  • Your industry expertise
  • What it would be like to be a client
  • Your testimonials
  • Your case studies
  • Your technical expertise
  • Your solution to a specific business pain they have

Take a virtual pen and circle the one on your monitor that you think is the most important to cover. Go, on….

I’m watching….

OK. If you picked one of those from the list then you are wrong. I know I’m in danger of breaking our friendship when we may have just met, but you are wrong. Don’t worry because almost everyone who reads this article will be wrong too. And this is the key to tripling your conversion rates overnight.

You see, there is only one thing you have to ‘sell’ your prospect on in that first call and that is:


This is so important that I will repeat myself…


And that’s it. It really is that simple, yet very few businesses have implemented this into their sales process. When we consult with businesses we ask a very simple question that I’d like you to ponder on for a while:

Q) What value do you provide TO YOUR PROSPECT in your discovery call?

At this point we tend to get a few blank stares, a few scratching of heads and chins and very often the reply “well, none really. We have to ask the questions we need to ask to qualify them in or out of our sales process”.

And there ladies and gentlemen (said in my very best stage show presenter voice) is the key to tripling your conversion rates from scoping calls to discovery calls almost overnight.

The not so secret, but rarely implemented, solution is to provide massive value in your discovery call that outweighs any investment of time by your prospect and risk taken by your prospect in engaging with you.

So how do you do that? We have broken it down into two separate methods:

Method 1: The tactical

The tactical method is the most widely adopted by people we work with because it is the quickest and easiest to develop and implement. The tactical approach is to take your existing structure of your discovery session and work at creating a way of articulating the value that happens on that call. We tend to work with clients to develop three strong bullet points to present to a prospect to articulate why it just ‘makes sense’. Here is an example transition script – Oops, sorry, ‘play book’ as the mention of scripts seems to be taboo in modern sales.

John, based on what you’ve told me, it sounds like you would be a great fit for a discovery call with our account executive, Steve. That call should take around 30 minutes, depending on how many questions you have for him, and there will be three main areas of focus you will benefit from:

1. He will give you some insights into what other market-leading organizations are doing in the field of .... [Insight on competitive landscape]

2. He can walk you through some of the ingenious ways our clients are restructuring their operations to benefit from ….. [new ideas and perspectives and establishing objectives]

3. He can give you three direct ways you can take that information and set a -------- strategy for your business

How are you fixed for next week?

The script is the bridge to close from your questions to a recommendation to move to the next stage of the sales process, i.e. your discovery call. Your three bullet points should be something that you actually deliver on the discovery call and not far out into the future if and when they become clients. It has to be congruent with what you deliver on your discovery call.

If you want to take it up a notch then what I’d suggest is creating around five or six really strong bullet points that apply to your target prospects. Your SDRs can then use their situational fluency based on the answers to their initial questions to present the top three strongest bullet points that apply. They present those, close on the discovery call and ensure they brief the AE that this was the promise of value to be delivered on the discovery call.

If you are struggling to develop five strong bullet points to ascribe a value to your discovery call then maybe it is now beginning to dawn on you why no-one wants to carry on talking to you?

Method 2: The strategic

This is the hardest part of the process. Crack it and you can achieve conversion rates on discovery call take-up like you would never dream possible. The strategic method is to see that your sales process is a series of gates where your objective is to only ever move the prospect to the next gate. So the only reason for the scoping call is to ‘sell’ the value of the discovery call.

If that is the case then surely the logical process is to consciously design the discovery call so that it creates value for the prospect. We call this process ‘productizing your discovery call’. In essence you put every bit as much focus into creating value in your discovery call as you do in your product or service.

A client many years ago was struggling to set meetings with senior IT decision makers. Thinking outside of the normal approach we approached a third party research company and commissioned a wide-ranging independent study into the effects of certain emerging technologies into their target industry. They paid a handsome price for this research. Part of the deal was the research company had to list the research for sale on its website at £2,000. This allowed the client to add massive strategic value in their outbound call when looking to close for a face-to-face meeting with senior IT directors.

They used the three bullet point concept as detailed in the tactical method and added in something like this as their third bullet point:

3. If nothing else he will leave you five physical copies of ‘respected independent research (company's name) study on the disruptive effects of new emerging technology and how it will affect senior IT leaders in the -------- industry'. They are selling that for £2,000 on their website but we have negotiated a deal with them and can leave you five copies. So, that’s £10,000 worth of independent research hand delivered to you.

How are you fixed the week after next?

Did it work?

You bet!

Conversions for a physical meeting went from 1 in 15 to 7 out of 10 on the first day of implementing this new process. And the best thing about all of this was there was no trickery or tom foolery. We designed the stages of the sales process to ‘make sense’ and add value.

And it is relatively easy for you to do too. You don’t have to commission expensive research but you do have to work out what value you deliver on the discovery call and then work at increasing that value. Some ideas for you:

  • Checklists that can be implemented in their business
  • Detailed case studies. Not the marketing type but one people can use to set strategy, identify challenges they hadn’t realized they had, lead discussions and help them implement solutions.
  • Instant recommendations of how they can improve their process
  • Lunch and learns with a set result
  • Physical products to evaluate

Don’t be driven by me though. Be driven by what will add such overwhelming value to your prospect in the time-frame of your discovery call.

If you and your business make a start now on implementing both the tactical and strategic steps outlined in this blog post then you should be aiming at a minimum of a three times increase in conversion of this step of the sales process.

Let me know how it goes. I really would love to hear how you are creating value for your prospects.

Find out how to double discovery calls and demonstrations in 30 days or less in Peter's new whitepaper.

To learn more about the impact of poor prospecting, read about our recent research into a prospect's view of B2B sales practices and discover the best practices of top performing sales professionals.

How to double discovery calls & demonstrations in 30 days or less - See more at:
Peter O’Donoghue is an expert in developing sales systems for outbound sales teams using cold email and telephone prospecting. He has a complete prospecting system available online at which you should really check out if you want to increase your outbound generated sales pipeline.

Image courtesy of Goldy at

To find out more about the impact of poor prospecting, read about our recent research into a prospect’s view of B2B sales practices and discover the best practices of top performing sales professionals. - See more at:

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About Peter O'Donoghue

Peter currently heads up Predictable Pipeline, the UK's most dynamic outsourced and insourced B2B lead generation company. He is also a regular contributor to Winning Edge – The magazine of the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management and other trade and business publications.

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