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3 Things Every Seller Should Find in Discovery (but 90% never do)

Robin the writer in Italy with tourists walking behind her out of focus.

Many sales teams believe their main problem is how to lead a strong discovery. But this belief ignores an even larger problem. Do you even know what you should be looking for in discovery? 

Experience tells me that most sales teams do not.

Before I get into what to look for, please indulge me in an analogy.

Imagine you’re visiting Rome. You pick up a map from a tourist office so you know how to get around.

But the map doesn’t show a single monument or ancient ruin. It just shows where all the ATMs are. Now you know how to get from one ATM to another, but you still don’t know what you should really be looking for!

That’s what happens when we hand sellers scripts or even methodologies (the map – the how), but the methodologies only point to surface-level “pains” or technical needs (the ATMs – the fake what). Those maps are deceptively reassuring. But they’re not showing sellers the real things to find in discovery (the monuments – the real what).

The monuments: 3 things every seller should find in discovery

1.     For what reason should the prospect buy your solution?

  • This seems painfully obvious, right? But watch out! If your answer starts with “because they need…” or “because they want…” or “because their current system/process/software is…” none of those are true reasons why the prospect should buy your solution.

  • Instead, you must be able explain in quantifiable terms how much it is costing the business right now (such as declining sales, lost employees, declining Average Transaction Value, declining NPS scores, etc.) as a result of their current system/process/tools etc.

  • The vast majority of sales conversations (more than 90%) take place without the buyer or seller ever talking about what’s happening to the health of the business because of the technical problem at hand. That’s like discussing which road to take, and which ATM to stop at, without ever talking about the actual destination!!

2.     What is specifically causing the issue in point number 1?

  • Here’s where sellers must get specific. We can’t take blanket explanations from the prospect such as “well we’re doing things manually which takes a lot of time, so we want a quicker way to do things.”

  • Instead, we have to understand how that manual process is being executed. Then we must demonstrate why that’s causing the bigger issue that’s costing the business lost sales, lost employees, etc.

3.     What are the downstream consequences if point number 1 persists?

  • Think of the issue in point number 1 as a domino. When it falls, what other dominos fall? If the main issue is declining Average Transaction Value, what would happen to profits over time? What would happen to their workforce? What would happen to their stocks if they’re publicly traded?

  • Note: this isn’t about grabbing at straws. There shouldn’t be any far-fetched “pains” here. Depending on your industry and the vertical you sell into, you should be able to demonstrate a clear connection in all three of these items I’ve outlined here.

Creating your map

When you identify these 3 things, it’s like putting the Colosseum, the Vatican, and Piazza Navona on your map of Rome. Now you know what to look for! Now your visit to Rome has so much more meaning!

And now you can talk about which road to take (i.e. how to get there; i.e. which questions to ask).

In the Gap Selling framework, we have a specific tool to identify the 3 things you need to get in discovery.

This tool is called the Problem Identification Chart (PIC). If you don’t have this yet, head over to and download it from the resources tab. Even if you already have it, but you want fresh instructions on how to approach yours, go ahead and grab a copy.

Now I’d love to hear from you: what’s your answer to question number 1 above? For what reason should they buy your solution?

"3 Things Every Seller Should Find in Discovery (but 90% never do)"



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