Have you heard of consensus gathering in sales? It’s a unique perspective on getting valuable information from prospects, and it involves a blend of discovery questions, multithreading and a little bit of strategizing. Colleen Francis, a proponent of this approach, believes that “a consensus gathering is sometimes the right tool at the right time.”
Gather, delegate and dig in with discovery questions
As Francis explains, “consensus gathering is a powerful discovery tool for top performers…creating a multi-threaded environment in which you, the seller, generate more value across your customer’s organization and close bigger deals faster.”
The first step in this approach is to gather stakeholders. As SalesFuel has pointed out, multithreading is an important element in sales today. Involving multiple stakeholders, and developing relationships with each, will uncover even more needs and opportunities than with just one contact.
The first step in the process is to identify the mobilizers within the prospect’s organization. These are people with whom you already have a friendly relationship with and who are interested in your solution. They can not only provide advocacy but also offer insights into other stakeholders and their business.
Create an agenda and share expectations
Francis explains that the key to a successful consensus gathering isn’t just asking the right discovery questions or having the right people involved. Create an agenda that speaks to what the stakeholders value. Then, call it anything but a sales meeting.
“Call it a workshop or a planning day or a strategic session,” she writes, “with the end goal of defining how the group can move forward with consensus in implementing a solution to a well-defined problem.”
You’ll get the best responses if you are specific about the session’s intentions and clearly define the expectations. Outline issues or pain points that will be discussed, which also gives prospects the chance to gather their own research or prepare questions beforehand.
Prep for discovery
Before the gathering, make sure to delegate someone as the facilitator. Remember, you don't want it to feel like a sales meeting. So, it’s best to have someone else kick things off. Also, it frees you up to engage in the dialogue and observe.
And make sure your discovery starts wide and then narrows in focus. Begin by asking broad discovery questions to first get a look at the bigger picture of their challenges. The professionals at Spotio agree with this approach, likening it to the traditional sales funnel. “Funnels are broad at the base and build up to a point,” they write. “When asking open-ended questions for sales, invert the funnel by asking board queries first, then working your way down to more specific ones.”
Dig deeper and qualify
Once the focus of the group has narrowed, it’s time to ask discovery questions that are a bit more probing. Doing so will get to the root of the challenges the group is facing. It’s key to not shy away from asking hard-hitting questions; you’ll likely be able to uncover some issues that they haven’t yet explored.
Need some inspiration about what to ask? Take a look at these high-value questions.
Once you’ve all uncovered these issues, it’s time to explore why past solutions haven’t worked and what your solution can offer that others don’t. If your solution could be a good fit, tie in your value to the pain points discussed, making an effective argument about why your solution is worth considering.
This collaborative effort is especially important today, as more buyers are involved in the purchase process. Involving everyone in a consensus gathering from the very beginning ensures that all stakeholders are a part of the discovery.
“Working with groups of people to solve a wide range of sophisticated business problems—and working in a marketplace where no one ever has a complete picture of the entire sales landscape—is a difficult job,” Francis admits. But with this strategy, and the right discovery questions, you are well-positioned for the task.
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio