The average first meeting for a B2B SaaS company today costs over $700. At many enterprise companies, it often costs a lot more.
If you ask any sales leader whether they think the first discovery meeting is important, they will respond resoundingly with a “Yes.”
Why? The first meeting sets the tone for the entire sales cycle and is often the biggest area where prospects drop off if you’re running an outbound motion.
One thing we’ve seen at Troops, is despite the purported emphasis, the rigor around executing and improving first meetings often doesn’t quite match it.
In this post, we’ll take a look at what you can do to improve your first meeting discovery process and how you can fix it.
First Meeting Mindsets: Beyond Onboarding
At most companies, reps are trained on the discovery process during their onboarding. They get certified after they pass their test and off they go.
From here, with the advent of call recording, managers work with reps to review and coach on probably 1-2 calls a week until they feel like they’re doing a good enough job on their initial calls. Usually they’ll start with a focus on discovery, and then move on to other types of calls.
Once a certain level of proficiency has been reached, the reps themselves will be the ones identifying calls that they need help on and bringing them to their coaching session. And whether or not they bring you discoveries is completely up to their discretion.
This, of course, poses a handful of problems.
The Problems with This Approach to First Meeting Execution
If this is the primary way you’re instrumenting first meeting success, you might be subjected to one of the following challenges:
- Product Variance and Updates
Assuming you’re selling a complex product, there is a ton of variance in each conversation. Moreover, your reps are probably taking up to 10 new discovery calls every week.
Your product and positioning will evolve and the talk track required in that first meeting is inevitably going to need to be reiterated. How will you holistically over time know whether your reps are making the proper adjustments?
- Limited Sample Size
As a manager, you can’t be on every call, especially as your team grows. So how can you possibly know whether your reps are doing what they’re supposed to do on all of their first meetings?
If you review 1 call a week (out of ~20), that is a fraction of the conversations your team is having. And let’s be real: many of your reps are bringing their best calls to their call review.
At this point, there might have been anywhere between 10-20 meetings that happened where you hope your rep was doing what they’re supposed to.
- Growing Teams & Decreased Bandwidth
As you hire more and more people, it becomes much harder to give each rep the attention on one part of the process. Deal reviews become oriented towards what’s closest to the pin and rarely do the early stage conversations get as much attention.
Inevitably, we end up trusting reps until we look at a pipeline drop off report that indicates they’re having an issue.
If this sounds familiar, don’t feel bad; this is what’s going on at most companies.
Fixing Your First Meeting Process
If you haven’t already, you need to clearly define what information needs to be gathered on that first call.
Once you’ve done this, you need to have those fields in Salesforce so that you can have visibility into whether this information is captured. (One methodology which we’ll talk more about in later posts is MEDDPICC.)
Note: your reps might not be able to capture every single data point on this call, but they should at least be able to capture some and should target getting what they can’t in subsequent calls.
If you’re doing this already, great!
Now, let’s talk about the next part where this often fails.
From here, you need your managers to be inspecting whether your team is following your first call process, by looking at the data; specifically whether reps are getting the information they’re supposed to and the quality of that information.
Quality is a huge point to stress. Reps will often just fill things out in order to move a deal forward or placate that they’re following the process. It’s the managers job to really look at the information and understand whether the rep is providing the key details that’s going to put your company in a position to win. Just because the field is filled out does not necessarily mean they did their job.
Introducing Micro-Coaching: A Scalable Solution for Rapid Improvement
Most companies run the inspection process by looking at a report in a weekly 30-60 minute deal review. That means the deals closest to the pin end up taking up all the time. And since your managers are so underwater, they’re not going to be particularly rigorous about what’s happening in those first meetings.
Another challenge is how delayed the feedback loop is. A lot can happen between the time one of your reps bombs a first call on Monday and your deal review on Thursday. There might have been another four discovery calls (equating to $2800) that they’re coming up short on with running an air-tight process.
So what if you could immediately understand after a call whether your reps were doing what they’re supposed to, at scale, and quickly coach them up as needed?
Well, now you can.
Moving to Real-Time Micro-Coaching
The key is to have a real-time feed of the discovery outcomes that your management can monitor, across all devices.
We really like the idea of doing this in Slack because it’s real-time, collaborative, and your team is probably already working there. It’s also really nice that you can do everything on your phone.
Here’s what this might look like. Immediately after a meeting a rep gets pinged to update their most important fields related to their sales process:
Once reps fill this out, managers can see which data reps were able to get the quality of information necessary to make sure they’re following the process. If not, it’s easy for them to jump in and make suggestions in real-time.
The beauty of this is that managers can scroll through the feed at any time throughout the day, quickly inspect first meeting performance, and coach up the rep if they need to on any or all of their calls.
This is a much more immediate and comprehensive way to understand call quality at scale as well as make rapid adjustments throughout the week vs. once a week (aka once it’s too late).
We refer to this as “micro-coaching” and think this is how every company should be improving their sales execution in 2019 and beyond.
Every single first meeting is probably costing you $700 or more. If you really believe discovery is important, it needs to be a focus throughout a reps tenure, not just a step in their onboarding process. And yes, this applies even when they have deals close to the pin.
To do this, you need a scalable way to understand what’s happening on calls at large—while coaching your team in real-time vs. one-off meetings that happen at arbitrary intervals.
This is how you really drive accountability and unlock the performance you’re looking for.