When it comes to sales, you have to spend hours rehearsing for the demo and polishing the deck. However, when it comes to the discovery call, you should be prepared and plan out your questions before the call.
Discovery call is where you can find critical information early in the sales cycle, such as use cases and a prospect’s fit, which can help you prioritize your deals. It is the first opportunity for account executives to talk to a prospect after they have been qualified by SDR. Poor management of discovery calls may get you stuck in “the land of no decision” with the deal and your quota on the line. You can give both a good finish, but it comes with great power to persuade your prospect to accept your offer. So, it is important to ask the right discovery questions at this crucial step of the sales process
What Is a Discovery Call?
A discovery call is part of the sales cycle where you gather information about your prospect through asking them questions and direct conversation. This information includes the prospect’s objectives, pain points, and priorities. The discovery calls allow you to determine whether you and the prospect are a fit for each other. It can help you decide if you want to sell to them and how.
In most cases, the discovery call is the first call that connects you with your prospect. It is considered the most significant part of the sales process. Sales professionals must understand the information of a prospect’s situation. It sets the impression of the whole relationship, both pre-sale and post-sale. With a discovery call, you can create an authoritative relationship, or you will be stuck playing catch up. Most prospects are fine with participating in a discovery call as long as it is not an interrogation. Some prospects may leave a discovery call after knowing you and details about your company. Expect that they will have specific questions about your product feature or a term. You need to assure them that you understand their problem, and you can make a professional assessment if you can help them or not.
For your part, you should know to qualify your prospect and identify their business pain, influence with the company, their urge to advocate for your product, and their preliminary attitude toward buying your product in contrast to the competitors.
What Is the Purpose of Discovery Calls?
The discovery call’s main purpose is to know if you and your potential buyer are a good fit for each other. The bottom line is the interview is understanding your buyer’s pain points, goals, and priorities so you can sell to them effectively.
Discovery call is the most critical conversation in the entire sales process. It establishes the result of your deal and determines how everything will turn out in the sales process. If the call is carried out correctly, you will form an authoritative relationship with your prospect. If you fail to do it correctly, your prospect will leave the call and go to the next available options
Best Discovery Questions to Ask On a Call
The sales discovery process is the first step in the phase of the sales process. At this point, you will research your prospect, connect them by phone, ask them qualifying questions, answer any questions they have, solve for the customer, and bring them along the sales pipeline.
There are a lot of questions you can ask. This article is not meant to be a checklist or anything conclusive, but you can have the best questions coming from listening and asking pertinent questions. This will help you reveal opportunities specific for that prospect and will help your objective of creating fit and value. The following are some of the go-to discovery questions. You may not be able to cover every question on every call, so qualify your prospect with these questions so you can disqualify them later if it is clear they are a bad fit.
You can assign each question to the appropriate sales discovery process.
To uncover challenges and goals.
- What prompted you to explore our solution?
- Tell me about your current process.
- What are you looking to improve?
- What if you didn’t do anything and kept the process the same?
For a deeper understanding of needs and core motivations
5. If you have a magic wand and have something you wanted from a solution, what would it be?
6. How can picking the right solution affect you? (This will give you an idea if it will make your prospect’s job easier or even give them more stability. Note that when the tool fails, the decision-maker will be seen as the failure and not the tool.
To understand the decision-making process
7. Which component do you consider is the most valuable in figuring out which tool is right for you? This includes the functionality, scalability, and price.
8. How do you make a decision?
9. Who is involved in the decision-making process?
10. What are your goals for making this decision or your timeline?
11. Tell me more about that?
This question will help you to get somewhere. Although you are seeing an opportunity, you don’t know enough yet. One of the common mistakes that sales representatives make is not going deep enough at this stage, such as taking note of the insight, pain or value, and failing to fully understand its cost, cause, repercussions, and the issue.
Asking more direct questions may be too specific or laden, and might be useless in eliciting any more prominent value to your prospect.
12. Why is that important to you?
This is an open-ended discovery question that will help you not only in understanding why this may be a priority to fix or unfasten but is more of a personal question. Solving the problem of unlocking the opportunity can make a difference to you personally.
13. What happens if nothing changes/you don’t do x?
What are the consequences of not solving pain or pursuing the opportunity? Showing the cost and extent of not taking the right action or understanding how much of a priority it is actually and why.
14. Can I ask you a difficult question?
Although asking a tough question is difficult and may get uncomfortable, it is crucial in helping both parties get real value. This question achieves three things:
- It prepares the prospect.
- You seek permission.
- You can explain why you wanted to ask the question.
15. Is it (current solution) working?
Know what are the existing problems, issues, concerns, or missed opportunities in their current solution. You will be able to recognize from their sentiment and tone of response whether this is an area to add value and solve or another opportunity to help elsewhere.
16. Who else cares about (solving problem/opportunity revealed)
It allows you to know whether your prospect is a decision-maker and who else is involved, influences, or signs this off. Creating excitement in solving a problem or adding value is great. Asking directly who is the decision-maker may offend your prospect or if they admit they are, it can be a half-truth at best and only revealed when it’s too late.
17. Where is this on your priorities today?
Problems are there to be solved. Excitement is great, especially for opportunities that need to be unlocked. However, nothing will happen if it is not important enough and time-bound with a convincing reason.
18. If we fixed that, what would that mean?
What is the importance of making this change or solving this problem or exploiting this opportunity? This will influence your finances, resources, strategy, focus, and risk mitigation.
19. Are you ready to solve this now?
Asking your prospect with this question will be able to reveal reasons, hurdles, or timescales that you can address, mitigate or work with in case they are not yet ready to ‘solve this’.
20. What can stop us from working together by xx (‘end of this month’)?
This is tested and proven to reveal any problems or actions not discussed or talked about, only that it is time-bound. You will be able to determine the risks, hurdles, people, and required actions to stop and delay this from happening.
Discovery Call Considerations to Show a Prospect that You’re Here to Add Value
Before the call, figure out who you are meeting with and their role, but do not assume that you understand their challenges based on this information only. It is the whole point of discovery calls, which is doing a bad job at it can lead you to create assumptions that you know your customer’s problem but you don’t.
- Set the tone and purpose of the meeting up front.
Share the agenda with your customers, such as letting them know you will be asking questions and the purpose behind them. However, assure them that it is a conversational meeting and they can ask questions of their own.
- Don’t ask yes or no questions.
This will lead to you talking more than the customer, so you will not be getting much information from them.
- Don’t ask multiple questions at once.
Multiple questions might confuse your prospect, and you will not get the answers that you need.
- Reassure your customer amidst the questions.
Let them know why you wanted to help them and assure them that you are listening to them and their needs.
- Don’t demo in the middle of the discovery call.
Doing so will lead you to miss the opportunity of getting all the information that you need. You can’t be consultative during the sales process if you missed out on this information first.
- Take notes as you get the discovery information.
As your customer progresses in the sales process, make sure to go back to these notes and refer to their pains. You can send a recap email with your notes as this will establish yourself as a true consultant and not just a salesperson.
You will know that you have made a good discovery call if you and your prospect can create a written sales plan and set out the next steps. In case you still have doubt after the call, schedule another one to polish out the remaining details.
Focus more on qualification than process-based questions. Any legal or procurement method is not a roadblock to a sale, but it means a lack of a business plan. Once you have achieved the big-ticket items out of the way, such as setting a goal and talking through potential dispositions to achieve, you can proceed to the nitty-gritty of the deal.
A discovery call can result in two things: a sales opportunity or disqualification of a prospect. At the end of your call, you should be able to understand your prospect’s needs and how you can help them find the solution. Finally, always add value to the discovery call through recommendations or simple ways to help. If you can leave the prospect with a positive impression, they will likely reach out when they become sales-ready.