“I totally forgot to ask that”

When debriefing calls with sales reps, I often hear that exact response. Their training makes them well aware of how important it is to find pain, but when they need to quantify that pain, they forget to capture an essential data point that they need. 

It is easy to understand why this happens. A discovery call can become quite an emotionally charged conversation, especially when we find success in identifying pain and get the prospect to share and realize the implications of that pain. Capturing boring old data can often feel like a step backwards in creating that connection we need to get prospect’s to openly share.

I’ll point out something here that the medical industry does really well. Whenever I visit my doctor’s office, regardless of the reason for my visit, someone on his staff captures my “vitals” information first and foremost. Weight, blood pressure, temperature, and so on get recorded on some form. Crucially, this happens before I am asked to fully describe my symptoms and their severity. Capturing the data happens first. My doctor wouldn’t consider starting to work on a diagnosis without this information.

The same should be true of sales discovery conversations. Sometimes we might know some of this data, but verifying it, and getting the client to vocalize it shows our professional skills in how we approach the conversation. In the heat of the conversation it can be easy to overlook one of these elements. This is why I use the Acronym tactic to make sure I have captured all the vital information I need.

One of my clients and I developed an acronym for their version of this data. We call it COPPER. It stands for the six elements they need to capture for every prospect to be able to analyze if their solution will be cost effective and is worthy of being proposed to the client. COPPER stands for:

C – Current cost of a new customer

O – Open capacity

P – Processing costs

P – Payment terms

E – Existing budget

R – Repeat customer percentage

The company knows that if they have these six elements and the math works out, their chance of closing a proposal moves to the 85% mark. They’ve created the fields in their CRM to make sure they capture this data, and as a rule, you cannot move an opportunity to propose status without these fields being filled out. “Copper leads to gold” is the mantra that has been adopted around this concept.

What’s your acronym? Have you identified what vitals you need to be able to propose business? Or do you walk out of discovery calls wishing you had remembered to ask something?