How To Use Discovery To Tailor Your Demo To Your Prospect

Joe Barron
Dec 7, 2018 · 5 min read

Discovery is the process that salespeople use to qualify a prospect and determine if they have a solution that will resolve their issues. No matter what you sell or who you sell to, every sales professional has to go through discovery. It is a critical part of the sales process.

Discovery is particularly important in qualifying demo attendees. Why is this? For starters, it helps salespeople tailor their demos to their prospects. It highlights which features to show to a prospect and which questions to ask. The idea is to create alignment between the product and the prospect — to map the product’s benefits to the prospect’s needs.

Research from Sales Benchmark Index shows how important discovery is to a successful demo:

  • Demos conducted without discovery are 73% less successful than demos conducted with.
  • Sales reps who tie their demos to specific pain points are 35% more likely to win a deal.

In writing this article, I’ve called on the expertise of Frank Mee and Jonathon Ilett, two of Cognism’s high-performing Business Development Managers. They’ve shared their top tips and advice for sales reps looking to make the most out of discovery and ensure a successful demo. Read on to learn from the best!

Tip 1: Do Your Research

This was a top tip from Frank and Jonathon — before you even start your demo, it’s imperative that you do your research. If you’ve used a buyer persona to find your prospect, then you’ll already have a good idea if the prospect is a good fit for your product.

But the insight gained from a buyer persona is only part of the research you should do. Always take the time to prepare fully before conducting your demo. Call up the prospect’s profile on their company website or on LinkedIn. Find out more about the company and the prospect’s length of service. What existing clients does the prospect’s business have?

Use this information in your discovery, especially when asking your qualifying questions.

Tip 2: Don’t Use a Set Structure

Frank and Jonathon both agreed that discovery should be a human, reactive process, not a quiz! Don’t go into your demo with a list of questions to ask. Instead, simply keep in mind three important areas you wish to discuss.

These can be anything that will help you to qualify your prospect. For example, your three topics could be: what technology is used by the prospect already; what has their experience of using similar products been like; and what budget the prospect has to work with.

Keep your discovery unplanned and responsive to the prospect’s needs. It’s the best way of making sure your demo is fully tailored to your prospect.

Tip 3: Build Rapport

For successful salespeople like Frank and Jonathon, building rapport with prospects is a key component of the sales process. Their advice is that discovery should take the form of a natural, fluid conversation. Your research will come in handy — bring in any useful information you’ve learned about the prospect and their business. Don’t take over the conversation — ask relevant, leading questions and then let the prospect speak.

Don’t rush your discovery. If you’re conducting a half hour demo, then your discovery should take 10 to 15 minutes of your time. During this period, if you’re successful at building rapport, then you’ll learn which pain points are afflicting the prospect, and which product features are best to show them.

Tip 4: Identify Pain Points

This is one of the most important parts of sales discovery. If you don’t identify the prospect’s pain points, then how can you tell if your product is the right fit for them?

When starting a demo, the most effective sales reps should ascertain three or four pain points. Find out from the prospect what makes their life hard; what problems they’re looking to solve; and why they’re interested in your solution.

Once you’ve got this information, you will know the prospect’s pain points and how your product can solve them.

A good piece of advice from Jonathon Ilett — don’t demo every one of your product’s features. Only demo the ones that solve your prospect’s pain points and add value for them. This way, your demo will be perfectly tailored to your prospect.

Tip 5: Ask the Right Questions

Questions are an essential device in any salesperson’s toolkit. But you have to know which ones to ask. It’s always best to ask open-ended questions (i.e., questions which don’t require a yes or no answer), as these will elicit the most meaningful responses from your prospect.

Here’s some examples of open-ended questions that you can use:

  • What’s the size of your team?
  • What’s your workweek like?
  • What products do you use?
  • What areas of your job would you like to see improved?
  • Which problems do you think our product will help you solve?

Just as important as knowing what questions to ask is knowing when to ask them. Frank Mee’s advice is not to reel your questions off one-by-one during your demo. That’s a surefire way to lose your prospect’s interest. Instead, insert them at natural junctures of the discovery conversation. Let them flow naturally!


So there’s Cognism’s advice on how to use discovery to tailor your demo to your prospect. I hope you find it useful. If you have any tips or hints of your own, be sure to let me know!

Joe Barron is the Content Writer for Cognism. Did you like this article? Do you have any thoughts or comments? Contact him at

Show and Sell

Storytelling is the new Selling. Show and Sell brings together the best of strategy, storytelling, and design to show companies how to sell more, faster with stories that stick. Brought to you by

Joe Barron

Written by

Content Writer for Cognism.

Show and Sell

Storytelling is the new Selling. Show and Sell brings together the best of strategy, storytelling, and design to show companies how to sell more, faster with stories that stick. Brought to you by

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