Business Discovery University for PreSales

In a recent PreSales Collective podcast episode, Woody Evans discussed his Business Discovery University for PreSales and provided a lot of great in-depth tactical advice for improving the discovery process in your own organization. Here are our favorite takeaways you can take action on right now. 

What is Business Discovery University for PreSales? 

It’s a training developed specifically for PreSales, consisting of between 2-12 hours of training on how to conduct discovery, work through questions, find pain points, and translate them to product capability. 

BDU is aimed at PreSales but anyone can be a learner, including sales and post-sales. They break the trainings down into learners, who have never done this kind of training before, and leaders, who have but need a refresher. The sessions are either a short refresher held over Zoom, or a more in-depth training in person. 

Tactics to Use on Your Team 

If you’re interested in bringing the discovery skills taught in BDU to your team, here’s what you should consider. 

Practicing conversations where SEs only ask questions can be a powerful exercise. It’s difficult - it forces you to avoid making value statements and ensure customers feel heard. 

Creating a culture where the whole team is open to feedback is also critical. Great SEs already know this is important, but leaders must consistently reinforce it and provide opportunities for everyone to give and receive feedback. At BDU, after each roleplay exercise there’s a roundtable where everyone contributes and gets feedback, even the quietest people in the room (they often have the best insights). 

The whole team must also invest in the training for it to succeed. Accountability is key - leaders should check in after every training to see how it went, ensure the skills learned are used on the job, and improve future trainings. 

Root Causes for Poor Root Causing

One of the most underused parts of discovery is looking at all the root causes of your customer pain, and getting to the absolute essence of it. This doesn’t happen as often as it should. You might not know the industry problems, or who exactly the customer is, or how to navigate up the value chain, or you’re simply not asking open-ended questions. 

Looking at exactly what you need to target, what to improve, and how to address it are vital - this is where the idea for BDU came from, because otherwise you’re wasting time solving for the wrong problem. This can be why your sales team has rated a deal in the pipeline as strong, but it doesn’t end up closing. 

There are two methods you can use to determine a genuine pain point. 

RICE: This acronym helps you figure out if the kind of pain you’ve identified is relevant to the right people - they must be one of these roles: 





SOUT: This acronym helps you ensure that what you think you have is actually pain - it must be one or more of the following: 





The last one is surprisingly the most important - if you can’t explain the pain simply, you probably don’t know what it is. 

If you don’t have one or more of these, then the pain you’ve identified is weak and you have more hardening to do. 

Advice for Leaders

Leaders need to pay attention to guiding learners - help them to sustain non-technical conversations, ask open-ended questions, and navigate out of the weeds and into the questions. We don’t want to pigeonhole customers - we want to show them different ways to see value - but we do need to solve the problem or they won’t buy. All of this together is really hard, and it takes a lot of practice for learners and leaders alike. 

Measuring Success 

Woody has seen these trainings translate into real business results, and suggests measuring conversion rates and deal cycle time to measure your own efforts. At the end of the day, those business results are the ones that really matter to your organization. 

For a complete breakdown of the BDU program and how you can bring all the tactics discussed here back to your organization, listen to the full podcast episode and check out this exclusive resource from Woody - Running a Business Discovery University for PreSales: Honing Your Team's Skills.

Woody Evans

Vice President, Global Presales at Delphix

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Sorry, this content is available for Leadership Collective Members only!

The Leadership collective is a group designed for PreSales leaders in a management capacity (Manager+ title) who are looking to network, grow professionally, and actively participate.

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