How to Ask for a Discovery Conversation before Your Sales Presentation

By Julie M. Hansen

A discovery conversation is a one-on-one meeting or phone call with someone in your prospect’s organization who can provide insight or shed light on the challenge you’re addressing in your presentation. Don’t be shy about asking for input. It’s a fair and reasonable request that benefits not only you, but also the prospect.

Gaining a better understanding of your prospect’s needs shortens your presentation and allows you to provide a more accurate and precise recommendation. The following steps help you secure a meeting with key individuals within your prospect’s organization:

  1. Ask your primary contact for three or four names of key people to speak with.

    These names may be people who will be attending the presentation, key influencers, or those who work behind the scenes and who are able to provide insight on the problem or challenge.

  2. Send a short, to-the-point email requesting a call or meeting with each individual.

    Use one or two sentences to describe why you want to speak and how much time you’re requesting, (for example 20 to 30 minutes.) See the figurefor an example. You can use the same template for each person, but be sure to personalize the names and contact information for greater response.

  3. Offer two or three different options of times to speak.

  4. Use a subject line that identifies your contact to increase your acceptance rate.

  5. Follow up with a meeting invite to secure the time on the person’s calendar.

    An example email request for a discovery conversation. [Credit: Illustration by 24Slides]

    Credit: Illustration by 24Slides
    An example email request for a discovery conversation.

If prospects are hesitant to speak with you, they typically don’t see the value. A quick statement like the following can make it easy for them to see the benefit in speaking with you: “I understand you’re busy, which is why I don’t want to waste any of your time (or your manager’s time) during the presentation. Your input now will help me make sure I can get right to the point during the presentation and be sure to address your top concerns. Does that make sense?”