Ed note: This is the beginning of a series about the NOTE discovery call process. In sequence, please read OverviewN starts with NEEDO = OPPORTUNITYT is for TEAM and E is for Effect for context and background. Or download The NOTE eBook.

At KiteDesk, we are working on finalizing our Sales Playbook for our entire sales team.  Like most sales leaders, as part of that process, I investigated the current best practices on how to run an effective Discovery Call.  During my research, I found approaches like BANT, ANUM, CHAMP and even GPCT.  All these approaches have their strengths and weaknesses, but unfortunately, none of them met the needs of our clients.

Yes, I said clients.

BANT is for Sellers

Why?  When I dug into these discovery processes I found one glaring error – they were foundationally built based on the needs of the seller vs. the buyer.  Buyers aren’t interested in helping you understand if they are a good fit for you – they want to know if you are a good fit for them.  So, it is for this primary reason, that I decided to build our own discovery process that starts with what is important to the client.

Think about BANT for a minute, it stands for:

  • Budget – do you have budget for OUR services (self-serving)
  • Authority – are you a person that has the authority to make a decision (self-serving)
  • Need – do you have a need for our offering (buyer-serving)
  • Timing – what is your timeline for making a decision (self-serving)

See the issues with this approach? It’s all about WIIFM (what’s in in it for me – the seller) vs. WIIFY (what’s in it for you – the buyer).

Crystal blue lake- New Perspective

A New Perspective

Once I had my research concluded, I decided to start with the buyers’ needs first, and then see how we could quickly determine if we could add enough value to even start a sales process with them.  The criteria that I used in coming up with our approach was based on the following requirements:

  • It had to be fast. My goal was to determine in the first 5-minutes of a call with a prospect if we could help them or not.  If we find out there is no fit, then the best thing we can do as sales professionals is not waste the buyer’s time.
  • It had to be buyer focused. If we start a relationship with a client by focusing 100% of our early sales efforts on them – then, they know we are concerned with their needs vs. ours.
  • It had to be easy to remember. With so many terms being used in sales today, it is easy for reps to forget their own sales process and get off the rails right from the start.
  • It had to be effective. At the end of our discovery call, I wanted to ensure that the client and our reps knew, without a doubt, that KiteDesk could deliver value to them, and that it was worth their time to proceed with the buying journey.

Buyer - Dictionary definition

A More Buyer-Focused Approach

Enter NOTE.  NOTE is an acronym that stands for:

  • Need (Buyer-focused) – When we think about need, we want to make sure that the results our clients are looking to achieve are things that KiteDesk is well-suited to deliver. If their needs do not align with the value we deliver, we stop the call.  This process takes 5 minutes.
  • Opportunity (Buyer-focused) – If there is a need, next we try to determine if that need is significant enough for the client to take action on it. Having a need is not enough of a reason to enter a sales process if the opportunity that is created by addressing that need is not worth the effort.  Just look at the stats related to the number of sales opportunities that result in “no sale.” In my experience, these deals die because the impact of addressing the client’s issues are not significant to either justify the cost or resources required.
  • Team (Buyer-focused) – Tied directly to opportunity is the team that is involved. The larger the impact of addressing a client’s issue, the higher the number of people that will need to be involved to determine if addressing it is worth it. Big opportunities almost always equate to a large number of cross-functional team members that must be part of the buying process. Even the average number of people involved in today’s B2B purchase decisions stands at 5.4. When we talk to our future clients about their team, we ask questions like:
    • “What is important to each of the team members and why?”
    • “What is the personal outcome each team member wants to achieve?”
    • “What involvement will each team member, not only have in making a decision, but also what role will they play once we get started?”
  • Effect (Buyer-focused) – Effect is directly tied to the opportunity. In this section of our discovery call, we try to answer this simple question, “Ok, let’s say we move forward and you become a client – what effect/impact do you expect us to achieve?” Where opportunity helps us determine the scope of the decision, effect helps us focus on the specific measurable results of our work together.


A Better Method

That’s NOTE, but I’m guessing you can see there are some big items missing from our qualification process.  I’ve purposely excluded several industry standard qualification questions. Below is a list of them and why we chose to remove them from our process:

  • Budget/Money – If you think about BANT, this is the first question you are supposed to ask – so why are we neglecting it completely? Here is why. We know that if the opportunity and the effect are great enough – there will be money available to address it. We also feel strongly that our solution must be compelling enough to allow our buyers to justify the purchase based on the results they will get in return for the money and time invested.
  • Timing – this goes hand-in-hand with budget and money. If the impact of our solution is powerful and compelling enough, then our clients will make a decision.  By digging into our client’s needs and the scope of the opportunity we typically find out very quickly if pursuing a purchase decision is worth it. If we do our job well, it should be evident that moving quickly to a decision is the right course of action.

Once we get beyond the initial determination of mutual fit, items like investment and timing come up, so we let that happen naturally.


KiteDesk and NOTE

Starting the Conversation – Your Feedback, Please

The NOTE acronym is easy to remember and comes in handy in each of our Discovery Calls. We also have taken NOTE a step further, as we have customized our Opportunity Screen in Salesforce to make it easy for our reps to follow this buyer-focused process.

I will be writing additional blog posts on our NOTE discovery process, so please keep your eyes peeled for that article.  In the meantime, I’d like to hear from both buyers and sellers about this approach.  What, if anything, do you like about it? What do you hate? What process are you using? Buyers – what do you want from the salespeople as it relates to determining fit?

Until next time…


Continue Reading:

N starts with NEED


T is for TEAM

E is for Effect 

The NOTE eBook


Photo credits Roberto NicksonHelloquenceGalymzhan Abdugalimov