Hot Takes

Discovery Isn’t Dead, You’re Just Thinking About It Wrong with Tarmo van der Goot


Discovery fatigue is a real thing in today’s market. Information is readily available, and buyers don’t want to listen to AE discovery calls.

But is that actually true?

Have high-performing Sales teams actually stopped doing discovery, or are they just doing it differently?

In this session with Tarmo van der Goot, Vice President EMEA for Chargebee, we discuss why discovery isn’t dead; you’re just thinking about it wrong.

[Transcript] Discovery Isn’t Dead, You’re Just Thinking About It Wrong

Joe Aicher

Welcome to the Sales Stage for Hot Takes Live; super excited to have you guys join us today.

We’ve got a full schedule with one of the stages that goes all the way to the end with speakers.

To get us kicked off, I’m super excited to introduce one of my former colleagues Tarmo van der Goot, who used to work with me in a previous role and is now currently Vice President of EMEA at Chargebee.

Let’s welcome in Tarmo. Thanks for joining us!

Tarmo van der Goot

Thanks for having me, guys!

Joe Aicher

Looks like you are going to be talking about discovery, so I’ll let you get started and get out of your way.

Excited to hear what you’ve got to say!

Tarmo van der Goot

Perfect, and since we’re doing this live, just to confirm, can everyone see the presentation? There we go!

So we’ve got 10 minutes and 5 minutes for questions, so I’ll dive right into the topic of today that we will discuss: “Discovery is not dead; you’re just doing it wrong!” 

Very quickly, Who I Am: Vice President EMEA for Chargebee. I’ve been running the data operations here for the last few years for Europe.

An interesting fact about myself: I’ve been trying a lot but am still not good at golf. I’m taking on any challengers, and you have a very good shot of actually beating me.

The Origin: To start off, “discovery fatigue” is a real thing, but it’s not what you think. Hopefully, some of the things [that I refer to] can sound quite familiar.

Discovery Isn't Dead, You're Just Thinking About It Wrong With Tarmo Van Der Goot
Discovery Isn’t Dead, You’re Just Thinking About It Wrong with Tarmo van der Goot
  1. “We’re all about product-led growth”
  2. “Customers don’t want to sit through your demo”
  3. “I’m just here for the price”
  4. “Combine demo with discovery”

I’ve heard it all before, and I’m not saying it’s wrong.

Product-led growth is important, but if it’s all about price, then you’re just doing it wrong because people don’t necessarily just want to sit through your demo they just want to see the product.

I also feel the same way every now and then; I also evaluate tools, and I also get bombarded with question after question. Sometimes I say to myself, “Just hurry up and show me what I want to see already,” or sometimes, and this is even worse, I immediately get the demo, and then halfway through the presentation, I get bored to death and start falling asleep. All I can think about during that time is the amount of time wasted. So stop doing those demos.

Here’s the thing: When I’m a buyer, and I approached your company, you don’t know my problem yet. You don’t have any clue what the reason was for me to actually go to your page and schedule a meeting with your sales team to learn more.

I’d like to explain this with the following.

For example, if I want to go and visit the zoo and I want to see my favorite animal; just so you know, my favorite animal is the Emperor penguin, and while walking in the zoo, a zookeeper comes up to me, he starts showing me and talking to me about all the amazing animals that they have in the zoo.

I literally don’t care how awesome your zoo is. I don’t really care how many animals you have. I don’t care how many animals you’ve already released in the wild.

This is all a lie, by the way; I do highly appreciate those types of programs, but I mean, if you start showing me the giraffes and the antelopes and the lions or a red panda, I couldn’t care less, not at first at least.

If I’m visiting the zoo and I want to see my favorite animal, show me my favorite animal already. In my case, show me those penguins. After seeing those penguins and I’m happy, then you can go ahead and show me the rest of the animals.

That’s the crux of it. If your buyers are scheduling demos and you’re immediately starting with showing your products, but you don’t know what the actual problem is, then you are the problem because you’re not giving them what they’re there to see.

Discovery fatigue is a real thing, but buyers do still love a good discovery. What they don’t like is a bad discovery. They hate sh*tty discoveries, so what we need to do as sellers is that we need to learn and know what the problem is so we can actually quantify the size of the problem.

So how does this actually look in practice?

Discovery Isn't Dead, You're Just Thinking About It Wrong With Tarmo Van Der Goot
Discovery Isn’t Dead; You’re Just Thinking About It Wrong with Tarmo van der Goot

We all know, and sometimes it’s the elephant in the room, but we are selling in a down market right now, so what does that actually mean?

In today’s world, the CFO’s office is running the company. If your software or product is not ‘mission critical,’ then you’re in trouble because everything is currently being evaluated.

When times are down, you have to increase the perceived value of your offering. You do this not by just focusing on what people get but actually highlighting the cost of not doing anything, and I’m sorry to say this, but you’re not going to be able to do this by immediately going into a demo, showing everything that they did not come to see in the first place because again, you don’t know their problem yet.

So what you or sellers need to do is to be empathetic.

Maybe your company has also gone through this or something similar. Companies are cutting costs right now, so this means layoffs are happening all over. Unnecessary products are being discontinued and are not the top priority right now.

That also means that they’re not going to buy anything if it has not proven its worth.

So what you or your sales team needs to do is focus on how you can actually help your customers, and your customers, in this particular instance, are also going to be that CFO who is running the company right now, and help them save those costs and be more effective with their budget.

So you also need to be empathetic to what they’re going through because if you’re not empathetic, you’re not able to show the true value that your product brings. Again, you’re not going to be able to move forward. 

So forget about the nice-to-have that your product might have because, again, I’m very sorry to say, in today’s world, no one really cares about the features that you offer.

I mean, it’s not necessarily that they don’t care, but you need to prove your worth in today’s market more as a recession survival kit. The only way to be able to get to that actual problem and to be able to show how your product is going to be valuable to the CFO is by doing proper discovery.

So what we all need to do is stop wasting people’s time.

Stop doing demos that are similar to the tour of the zoo where you’re showing all the animals when all I actually want to see is the penguins.

We need to focus and go back on focusing on the problem. We need to connect the dots between an actual quantifiable business problem and your own product because if you only focus on your own product, believe me, your prospects are just going to get bored, and you’re not going to be able to move forward.

So again, what we need to do is to start listening, but then again, really listen! We need to start solving because if you’re only solving a technical issue in today’s market, for a CFO, that’s not necessarily worth the limited budget that they’re working with in today’s world.

So, how can you do this? By a properly thought-out discovery process that is centered around the business problem of your prospect or customer!

So, in conclusion, what I’d like to say is yes, discovery fatigue is a real thing, but discovery is not that. You need to be able to learn to do better discovery because buyers love good discovery; they hate a sh*tty discovery!

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Hot Takes Live


Catch the replay of Hot Takes Live, where 30 of the top SaaS leaders across Marketing, Sales, and RevOps revealed some of their most unpopular opinions about their niche.

These leaders shared what lessons they learned and how they disrupted their industry by going against the grain (and achieved better results in the process).

Joe Aicher

Awesome, thank you, Tarmo!

I’m thinking through a lot of what you were talking about, and it’s really interesting to think about new reps coming in.

I think people who have come from other organizations often want to take the shortcut, and somebody requests that demo, and they just want to jump right in because they want to be people pleasers.

How do you help your new reps that are joining the sales organization to get out of those old bad habits?

Tarmo van der Goot

Yeah, I mean, it’s all about enablement and not throwing your wraps too soon through the fire and expecting them to do everything perfectly from day one.

You need to be able to teach them how the product works so they understand what the features are.

I’m not saying sell the features, but you need to have a good understanding of what your product has to offer because when your reps are comfortable and confident about their selling, that’s when they’re also going to be able to ask the right questions and to be able to quantify someone’s business problem.

So what does this mean?

Hypothetically, let’s say someone comes to your demo and they say, “Well, I have a problem with my invoicing.”

That’s a technical problem.

So what a lot of reps do then is, “If you have a problem with your invoicing, then let me show you how we can solve this…” I mean, yeah, a lot of people can probably do the same thing. What you need to do is be empathetic, listen, and actually understand by asking more questions.

So if you have some technical problems with your invoicing, what does this actually mean? Why are you having those problems? When those invoices are not working the way they should, what does it mean for your balances? Are you not able to generate enough invoices on time? How much money are you losing?

Were you trying to purchase another product to help you grow into the next stage, but because your invoicing isn’t working the way it should, you don’t have the cash flow anymore?

Now instead of coming in with a technical problem, you’ve come across a business problem, and again, the only way that you get to that stage is by asking the right questions, and you can only ask the right questions with the right amount of product knowledge.

Joe Aicher

Yeah, for sure!

The other thing that I was thinking about, something that we talk about a lot here at Breadcrumbs, is this idea of discovery through a demo.

Where you’re going to go and set up your first call, you’re going to make sure you do that thorough discovery, and you’re going to touch on one highlight of the product, but as you get into call two and call three, you’re continuing to showcase products and features that are relevant to them or could solve their problems.

We’re still trying to pull out more information through that demo as a continued discovery. You’re always learning as you’re talking to your clients every time. Every conversation you have is another opportunity to learn another key piece of information.

Are you guys using some of those same strategies or think of those as the same way as you go through, or is it something different?

Tarmo van der Goot

No, we go down a different route, but again, it also depends a lot on your product.

So, let’s say you have a ‘mission critical software’ that touches a lot of different areas within the organization.

Obviously, that becomes a different sale then, and you’re basically solving one singular problem, and that’s all you’re doing. Then, you can actually dive into the matter much faster and much quicker.

But again, the challenge that you have by doing the demo and discovery at the same time is that your starting point is “I don’t know what I need to show…” and if you have someone who’s highly engaged, done a ton of research, knows exactly what they need, they’ll say “Joe I need a demo from you. I’m already sold [on the product]; I just need you to show me a couple of things more.”

That’s perfect! We have gotten those requests, too, but what happens more often is, “I’m kind of on the fence here, and my CFO has a very limited budget.” 

So you actually need to do some work in order to not only convince me [the customer] but my entire C-suite that the limited budget that we have should be spent on your solution.

Joe Aicher

Yeah, I think very rarely do we reach that panacea of “I’m already sold; just show me what I need to see, and we’re done,” but that’s the idea we’re always looking for.

Great, thanks so much for your time Tarmo!

It doesn’t look like we have any questions from the group, so if you guys want to go back and re-listen, you guys have access to these afterward and can pause on any of the slides.

Thanks again, Tarmo; it was wonderful talking to you; we hope to connect soon!

Tarmo van der Goot

Thanks, all! Thanks, Joe!