Customer Discovery: A MAP to Guide Your Way

MAP Value Discovery

When embarking on the discovery phase of a sales process, the primary objective is to gather critical information from your customer that not only aids in qualification, but more importantly helps motivate the buyer towards making a change and instills confidence in their purchasing decision. 

A highly effective method to ensure focus on the most crucial elements of discovery is the use of the MAP acronym, which stands for:

  1. Motivations for Change
  2. Alignment
  3. Process for the Decision

Motivations for Change

Motivations for Change is the first essential pillar in the MAP framework. Understanding the buyer’s motivations involves delving into their pain points, the impact these pains have on key performance indicators (KPIs), their strategic goals and objectives, and any compelling events that might necessitate a change. This step is crucial as it addresses the ‘Why Change?’ question, helping to diagnose the buyer’s issues and their consequences.

Focusing on the Motivations for Change element of discovery should help to uncover and raise self-awareness around:

  • Pains – Pain points they are experiencing that you know you can help with. Pain points they may not know they need to address, but should
  • Impacts – KPIs that are a result of the Pain ands status-quo, and the cost of do nothing
  • Strategic goals and objectives – How solving the pain could help to deliver on strategic initiatives, goals and objectives (essential for executives)
  • Compelling event(s) – a compelling event (new regulation, product launch, trade show).


Alignment with the buyer’s vision for a solution comes next. This step is about ensuring there is a mutual understanding of how your solution can uniquely address the buyer’s challenges. It involves discussing use cases, solution criteria, competition, and the specific business outcomes the buyer hopes to achieve. This phase answers the ‘Why Now?’ question, focusing on the logical justifications for the decision and working collaboratively with the buyer on desired outcomes. 

The Alignment element of discovery should include gather information and generating awareness around:

  • Use cases – Where  your solution can uniquely solve the buyer’s pains
  • Solution criteria – What is important in deciding which solution is appropriate and how you align (or don’t) to what they need based on this criteria
  • Competition – What the status-quo legacy is, the incumbent solution, and other product / service providers and approaches being considered.
  • Desired business outcomes – specific KPI impacts they are looking to achieve

Process for the Decision

The final component of MAP is understanding the Process for the Decision. This involves identifying who is involved in the decision-making process, their roles, and the steps they follow to reach a consensus, secure budget, and finalize the purchase. This step is key to building confidence in the decision-making process, ensuring that all necessary stakeholders are involved and that the process is clear and agreed upon. 

The Process for Decision should include queries and gathering around:

  • Who is involved? – Champion, Economic Buyer, Direct Stakeholders, Indirect Reviewers and Gatekeepers
  • What are the process steps? – Uncover their process steps, reviews and hurdles for decision making (or better, help them understand what steps assure a good decision and success).
  • What has held the organization back? – the barriers that held prior efforts to change back, such as lack of budget, resources and support.

Comparing MAP to other methodologies like MEDDIC, it’s evident that while both aim to guide the discovery process, MAP places a greater emphasis on understanding the buyer’s motivations for change. This is supported by neuroscience findings that suggest decision-makers are more driven to avoid pain than to seek gain, highlighting the importance of identifying and amplifying the buyer’s pain points.

The mapping of MEDDIC to MAP includes:

  • Metrics = Alignment – Desired business outcomes
  • Economic Buyer = Process for the Decision – Who is Involved
  • Decision Criteria = Alignment – Use cases, Solution criteria and Competition
  • Decision Process = Process for the Decision – Process Steps
  • Identify the Pain  = Motivations for Change – Pains, Impacts, Strategic goals and objectives and Compelling events
  • Champion = Process for the Decision – Who is Involved

The Bottom-Line

The MAP discovery framework offers a structured yet flexible approach to discovery that focuses on the most critical elements: Motivations for Change, Alignment with the buyer’s needs, and the Process for Decision. 

By emphasizing these areas, sales professionals can foster a deeper diagnosis and understanding of their customers’ needs, collaborate more effectively on solutions, and navigate the decision-making process with greater confidence, ultimately leading to more successful sales outcomes.

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