Discovery : Breakthrough or DQ

Executive Summary: Stalled deals leading to No-Decision or C/L occur more than 50% of the time in complex B2B Sales. Mid-stage deals should be subject to “breakthrough questions” and “DQ criteria” to prevent sales executives from wasting precious selling time chasing bad deals.

Top sellers know how to ask direct questions, then create “what-if” scenarios, using their prospects own language to reflect back on how their products and services can help. This knowledge is usually rarely documented, nor shared with the sales force. As a result, average reps may try to increase coverage by “checking in” with prospects that have no intent to purchase.  

What if you had to Breakthrough or DQ (Disqualify)?

What if you had just 30 days to breakthrough or DQ the qualified stalled deals in your pipeline? What questions would you ask, and how would ask them? More importantly, how do you think your prospects would respond?

What does it take to Breakthrough?

A breakthrough, aka “compelling moment” or “burning platform”, takes solid business acumen, the ability to introduce one or more challenging scenarios, and convert those scenarios into potential for improved process, data, reporting and analytics.

How do you set up for the Breakthrough?

Consider the following list of questions, and when and how you would ask them during the discovery process. These are best suited for educated, savvy buyers who may be stuck in a pattern of indecision. (Nobody likes to feel interrogated, and so use your best rapport building and storytelling skills to weave questions like these into your ongoing discovery process.)

Situational Questions

  1. What have you tried to solve this problem in the past?
  2. How does solving this problem relate to other priorities?

Pain Questions

  1. What are your desired goals? Specifically what does success look like?
  2. What are the consequences if you don’t succeed? What else will be impacted?

Value Questions

  1. Who else in your organization will benefit?
  2. How does the value our product/service contribute your company objectives?

Decision Making Questions

  1. Who else is involved in the decision making process?
  2. How soon until we can meet with your decision making team to assess their needs?

DQ Questions

  1. Why are your other priorities more important?
  2. What are the negative impacts of not solving this problem first?

Don’t be surprised if your prospects get more engaged when you ask “difficult” breakthrough questions. For many buyers, the business analysis is the most interesting, and memorable part, of a sales conversation. This also differentiates you from competitors who may be selling “features and benefits” with no compelling reason to make a decision. 

How do you evaluate the proactive DQ?

A proactive DQ is a conscious decision by the seller, based on both positive and negative buying signals. Start by listing the positive and negative buying signals and add them to your “deal scorecard”. A weighted deal scorecard, either in your CRM, preferred deal scoring system, or even a spreadsheet will help you make consistent, objective DQ decisions.

Buying signals are just one very important aspect of the early DQ decision. An early stage DQ must also account for additional potential ACV, qualified lead velocity, and other pipeline activity. For larger deals, asses all criteria required to proactively DQ. 

What are the impacts of early stage DQ?

The impact of early DQ forces the seller back “to the well” for new prospects, but also frees up time to pursue lower risk deals with higher probability closing in the near term. According to CSO Insights, top sellers pursue C/L deals 13% less frequently than average sellers. Use your own ACV and sales cycles to calculate the positive economic impact for your company.

By introducing breakthrough questions, and DQ criteria, you are in a much better position to understand the cost/benefit of early DQ, and transfer that knowledge to others on your team.

About the Author: Chris Ortolano is the founder and principal at Outbound Edge, a sales consultancy, and creator of SalesStack, a Slack team for B2B Sales and Marketing pros. Chris helps sales managers focus on using data and process to win more deals and solve problems associated with pipeline activity, analytics, and effectiveness.

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