Prospect Hijacks Your Discovery Meeting With, “So, Tell Me What Your Company Does.”
Updated: Jun 24
At some time, this will happen to almost everyone in sales, whether they are a beginner or a 20-year veteran. You’re on a first appointment with a new prospect. Upon arriving, reception notifies the prospect who comes out to greet you with a smile and walks you to their office or meeting room. You have just sat down in your chair and before you can begin to initiate your call plan agenda, the prospect says something like…
“Thanks for coming in today, Joe. So, tell me what you guys do?
Your prospect has potentially hijacked your meeting plan and you need to recover and get back on track.
At some point in the conversation, we all like to hear this question and have an opportunity to elaborate on a solution for the prospect. However, what should we do if, as described above, this event occurs at the very beginning of the meeting? Specifically, what happens if, for lack of a better term, we “take the bait” and dive too deeply into a response prior to establishing an agenda and completing any discovery?
Below are some of the more likely outcomes:
You may miss your initial chance to establish professional (not personal) rapport and business credibility with the prospect.
The wrong person (you) could end up doing most of the talking and you never get a chance to circle back to demonstrate any understanding of the prospect’s business or situation.
The prospect may take over and control the agenda and directing it towards an area where your company is not strong.
Since there has been no discovery, any response would be a generic overview without any relevant context (the talking brochure or website).
It may be hard to establish a timely need for your services as the customer prequalifies you against the status quo.
You are unable to generate a compelling reason for the prospect to make a change.
Any next steps towards an eventual close become very hit or miss.
When a savvy buyer opens the conversation with, “Tell me what you do”, what they are really saying is, “Tell me what you do so I can decide if that is something I want and then I will decide if I will have a business conversation with you. ”Unfortunately, when this happens, the order is backwards from our sales perspective.
There are several meeting opening best practices that can be deployed to avoid this situation. Here is one 3-step tactical play that will allow you to take control and bring the conversation back to your planned opening agenda and following a discovery phase.
Step 1: Agree and ask this question back:
Yes, I would be happy too. Before I do, curious to know how familiar you are with us and have you had a chance to checkout our website?
Outcome: It doesn’t matter if they say, “yes”, “no” or share a brief description of what they think they know. The purpose of your question is to engage the prospect into a two-way conversation and shift the flow of control back to you. If you get any additional information from the prospect’s response, it’s a bonus.
Step 2: Respond
Acknowledge accordingly (based on the response above) and provide an answer to the “tell me what you guys do” question but answer by giving a 12-15 second value proposition that supports your call plan. Then, immediately move to Step-3 without pausing or waiting for a response from the prospect. For example, at Momentum Selling we would say:
“We help mid-sized companies build and sustain sales momentum in order to achieve measurable improvement to their sales results within 66-days.”
One of the keys to your success is going to be keeping your response to 15 seconds or less, then immediately proceed to Step-3 without pausing. You do not want to get drawn into a conversation about your company and specifically avoid discussing your company’s size, years in business, how you do what you do, etc. This information isn’t relevant at this point in the discovery call.
Step 3: Go into your Call Plan Opening & Always Remember to Confirm Before Proceeding to Discovery
Immediately and without pausing, tie what you just said back to your call plan agenda which was hopefully to discuss a relevant insight or business issue and how it may be impacting the prospect (not to introduce yourself and get to know them).
Always remember to confirm or get acknowledgement from the prospect on your call agenda before proceeding to discovery to ensure you have answered the question and they are aligned with the direction you are going. For example, at Momentum Selling we would say:
“We help mid-sized companies build and sustain sales momentum and achieve measurable sales improvement within 66-days.” As discussed, the reason for us to connect today is for me to share with you some of the challenges companies are facing when they try to ramp up their prospecting efforts and why they don’t always stick. Are you okay if I share with you some of our findings and get your perspective?
In most situations, the prospect will now agree with your agenda and you will have:
1. Built credibility by answering the question and demonstrated the business skills to professionally steer the conversation back to the agenda.
2. Provided direction of where the meeting & conversation is going.
3. Proceeded to the discovery in a non-abrupt & non-confrontational way.
There is no way to avoid the new prospect hitting you with the, “So, tell me what does your company do” question at the beginning of a meeting. When it happens, don’t let it throw you off your game plan. Use this technique or play breakdown to get your sales call back on track and avoid losing momentum.