Anatomy of a Discovery Conversation

In which we will actually perform an unrehearsed discovery call, following our discovery methodology, with “call outs” from time to time to highlight and explain key elements, skills, and principles. This won’t be your standard webinar!

Join us to see a real-life example of doing discovery that can serve as the basis for a template for you and your team, as well.

To set the context for this webinar, our prospect has reached out to us asking about demo skills training possibilities. We had an initial 20-minute conversation about our offerings, after which we sent information on our training options and pricing. After digesting this information, our prospect reconnected for the next step: a discovery conversation.

Join us to listen-in as we interview our prospect…

We’ll intersperse the conversation with comments and observations about the anatomy of this discovery call, exploring key elements of discovery:

  • About You
  • Demographics
  • Environment
  • Major Pain
  • Impact
  • Value
  • Related Pain
  • Culture
  • Wrap-up

About the Presenter

Mark Green

For over 20 years Mark Green’s been connecting real people to real technology and now leads authentic technical narratives at Sage as a Technology Evangelist.

From the hit podcast: Two Presales in a Pod, the tech-focused video series ‘2 Minute Tuesdays’ to presenting on innovation stages in-person across the world, he has the expertise to find real business value in deeply technical concepts.

Initially beginning his experience in the IT industry, moving through IBM, Salomon Taylormade Adidas, EDS, Infor and Sage, the insights gained from supporting their growing needs in Retail, MOD, ERP, Finance and HCM sectors means he’s seen B2B at every scale.

presales collective, customer engagement marketing, demos, demo, demos near me, customer engagement examples, presale, automation demo site, Demo Fest, user engagement | goconsensus

Peter Cohan

Peter Cohan is the founder and principal of The Second Derivative and the Great Demo! and Doing Discovery methodologies, focused on helping software organizations improve their presales, sales and marketing results – primarily through improving organizations’ demonstrations and discovery skills. He has experience as an individual contributor, manager and senior management in marketing, sales, business development, and as a member of the C-suite. He has also been and continues to be a prospect and a customer.

Webinar Transcript


In this webinar titled “Anatomy of a Discovery Conversation,” Peter Cohan and Mark Green provide insights into the presales process and share their experiences at Bedrock. They discuss the structure and organization of their presales and sales teams, including their experience levels, geographic organization, and collective vision. The speakers also touch upon the challenges of remote work and adapting to new training methods, as well as the importance of fostering individual growth and cross-pollinating knowledge across teams. Additionally, they discuss the value of a structured discovery conversation and the importance of building trust and credibility with prospects before diving into their pain points.


  • 00:00:00 Mark Green welcomes the audience and asks them to introduce themselves and their job titles through the chat. He also mentioned upcoming events such as the 2022 Compensation and Workload report and DEMOFEST 2022. Then, they begin the anatomy of a discovery call presentation and ask the audience if they are familiar with the survey numbers they are about to show.
  • 00:05:00 Mark Green begins the session by asking the participants in the chat box what they are doing during the web session, with 55% multitasking and 21% online shopping. They also share some numbers: two to four hours, three to six demos, and eight to fifteen pages, which are typical outputs of a discovery conversation. The hosts clarify that the mock discovery conversation they will present is unrehearsed, where they will be focusing on the technical discovery typically done by presales folks, rather than pure qualification or sales methodology.
  • 00:10:00 The conversation between Peter Cohan and Mark Green centers on Mark’s background and career path leading up to his current position of authority at Bedrock. Mark shares that his success comes from recognizing the power and authority in his team, who are located in London, Bristol, Boston, Bergen, and Sydney. The team members come from a variety of backgrounds and have different strengths, including consultative skills, industry expertise, and collaboration abilities. Some were previous practitioners who switched to presales, while others were customers or have prior experience in sales. The team has some new hires, such as the people in Bergen who are very new.
  • 00:15:00 Mark Green describes how their team is organized in terms of experience, sales counterparts, and their willingness to learn and adapt. The team’s experience ranges from less than a year to seven years with an average of two to three years. They are organized by country to accommodate time zones and while some vertical and product alignment is possible, geographic constraints are the primary factor for pairing with sales counterparts. The team works on a collective vision, with team targets instead of individual targets, and the company’s success is attributed to their success. Finally, the team is divided into two models: one-to-one support for traditional tax and compliance products and fewer salespeople for a short sales cycle in their Chrome extension plugin.
  • 00:20:00 The conversation focuses on how the sales team is organized in different locations and how they have adapted to working from home. The veteran sales employees find it challenging to do training and team building activities remotely, while newer employees prefer it. The sales team has slightly shorter longevity compared to the presales team, but there is not much loss within the organization. The sales cycle typically lasts four to five months for the complex product that the company offers, but they are trying to shorten it to a few weeks for their self-serve products.
  • 00:25:00 Mark Green and Peter Cohan discuss the importance of shortening the sales cycle for smaller products to make it more transactional, while recognizing that most partner products have about a three-month cycle. They discuss how to work out the needs of customers’ projects earlier to shorten the activities they need to do with them, obtaining a better fit without the need for first installation. The speakers then move on to discuss how Bedrock is perceived in the marketplace and their desire to differentiate themselves in a positive sense.
  • 00:30:00 Mark Green discusses how important it is for his teams to sell not just on what they do but also on how and why they do it. He mentions that it’s easier to embed this philosophy into teams in some locations than others. They also discuss the percentage of sales opportunities that end up as no decision, which is about 20%, but they’d like to reduce it by about seven and a half percent. The conversation then turns to demos, and they discuss how many demos each sales consultant might do on a weekly basis.
  • 00:35:00 Mark Green and Peter Cohan discuss the frequency and length of demos for potential buyers, as well as the importance of fostering individual growth among team members and cross-pollinating knowledge across teams. They also touch on the challenge of keeping everyone on board with new training methods in an ongoing process. The conversation then shifts to the issue of distraction and getting sidetracked by questions during demos, which happens all the time.
  • 00:40:00 Mark Green and Peter Cohan discuss some of the skills and challenges faced by solution consultants and how to improve them. They note that solution consultants have a strong sense of self-worth tied to helping buyers, which can sometimes lead to working on problems outside of their scope. Additionally, they suggest that the team needs to improve their ability to communicate business value and grow interpersonal and presentation skills. They also mention the need to be more flexible in demos, tuning them to each customer’s needs rather than simply following a script. Finally, they discuss demo qualified leads and how they are tracked for automated solutions.
  • 00:45:00 Mark Green and Peter Cohan discuss the issue of demoing products too early or to the wrong stakeholders. They recognize that while they do give full live demos, it’s not always to the right people or at the appropriate time. They also touch upon the importance of implementing training effectively without causing frustration or confusion for employees. The conversation ends with a wrap-up where the speakers discuss notes templates and the importance of collecting data during discovery calls.
  • 00:50:00 Mark Green and Peter Cohan discuss the value of a structured discovery conversation and the importance of building trust and credibility before diving into a prospect’s pain points. They also emphasize the idea that prospects who are willing to engage in a substantive discovery conversation are usually earnestly interested in solving their problems. Cohan’s approach to starting the conversation by asking about the prospect’s background is an effective way to establish a flow and build trust with the prospect.
  • 00:55:00 Peter Cohan and Mark Green answer a question about dealing with outbound calls where the point of contact is not willing to spend adequate time on discovery. Cohan suggests quickly determining if they are good candidates or just browsing by asking if they are willing to invest a few minutes to talk about their situation. If the answer is yes, then it may be worth proceeding, while a no may signify that they should be added to marketing drip or nurture plans. The conversation ends with a discussion about the importance of recognizing the Dunning-Kruger effect, which refers to people who don’t know what they don’t know and the need to have a mindset to learn from the discovery process.