Newbie sales rep: “Hello, we noticed that you have filled up the enquiry form on our site. Can I have a few minutes of your time to explain our state-of-the-art CRM? It’s AI-powered and has some cool new features that no other competitor offers…”
Star sales rep: “Hello, <first name>. This is Mark speaking from ABC Solutions. We haven’t had a chance to talk yet, but I noticed that you have shown interest in our product. I see that your company is an emerging leader in [specific service/product], and I wanted to quickly share how we’ve helped other businesses similar to yours. Is this a good time to chat for a couple of minutes?
[Prospect agrees to the chat]
We specialize in [product/service], and we have helped businesses like yours increase their conversion rates by 45%. Would you be interested in knowing how we can help your business overcome challenges and grow revenues with our [product/service]?
I’d love to know more about your unique business challenges, goals, and objectives. Are you free next week for a sales discovery call where I can highlight the features of our [product/service] to see if it’s a good fit for your business requirements?
Which approach do you think would get the prospect curious about what you’re selling, and land you the coveted second sales appointment?
Bingo, it’s obviously the second one.
In the second example, the sales agent doesn’t launch into the sales pitch immediately. Instead, the rep takes the time to build rapport with the lead, while quantifying the benefits of their [product/service], thereby igniting the curiosity of the prospect.
The focus here is not on selling but on determining if your product/service is the right fit for the prospect and vice versa.
And that, dear reader, is the magic key to successful selling.
This is where discovery calls come into the picture.
What is a discovery call?
A sales discovery call is the first conversation you have with a prospect after they make an initial enquiry about your product. It’s your opportunity to engage with the customer and understand their needs, objectives, and challenges.
It helps you uncover critical information that is crucial later in the sales process. Instead of delivering a generic sales pitch, you can use the personalized information gained during the discovery call to explain how your product/service could help the prospect solve their specific pain points.
In other words, the sales discovery call is your first chance to sweep your prospects off their feet. There’s a lot riding on it, as it sets the tone for the rest of the sales process and the future relationship with the prospect.
Discovery calls can be daunting and stress-inducing - but they’re critical to start the relationship with the prospect on the right foot.
Phew! With so much at stake, it’s no wonder that even experienced sales reps get pretty nervous on tough sales calls.
In this post, we share the best tried-and-tested strategies and sales tips for you to nail a sales discovery call.
Top Ten strategies for a successful discovery call
Do your homework
Great discovery calls do not happen by accident. They are meticulous, planned, and well-prepared.
Learn as much as you can about a potential customer before you get on a phone call with them. The time you spend on the research helps you ask the most meaningful and relevant questions to the prospect.
- Research the company via its website, social media, and LinkedIn pages to get an idea of its structure, stakeholders, goals, and USP.
- Research the prospect to identify their passions and interests. Look for something that helps you connect with the lead. They are more likely to trust you if they find you relatable.
- Use mirroring (repeating what they said) and labeling (paraphrasing what they said) to get to: “Yes, that’s exactly right!”
You can use the information you have uncovered in the research to help you with the sales discovery process.
Set a clear agenda
Remember that your prospect is a busy individual, and no one wants to spend their working hours hearing a sales rep ramble on and on about their product/service, without a clear goal. Begin the call by quickly reviewing the purpose of the call, and let the lead know that you respect their time.
- If possible, get a prior appointment and fix a convenient time to get on the discovery call with the lead.
- Introduce yourself, your organization, and your role in the company.
- Share the purpose of the call. You can say something along these lines, “This call is for us to know your company, goals, and needs. At the end of this call, if we think our product can help you overcome your obstacles and challenges, I can schedule a follow-up call with our sales manager.”
Instead of getting down to the questions immediately, take a few minutes to build rapport with your prospect. They are more likely to open up and share their pain points and challenges when they are comfortable with you, and hopefully, even like you.
- Use appropriate humor to break the ice and build rapport.
- Research them on LinkedIn, use a profile analysis tool like Humantic.ai, and bond with them on their professional passions You can mention a mutual interest or commonality that you noticed on their Twitter or LinkedIn profile (hey, I just realized we both worked at XYZ the same year, or went to the same high school!)
- If they have a professional blog or podcast, you can discuss what you liked about it. Be careful not to be overly flattery or insincere. An experienced prospect can sniff BS a mile away.
Have a two-way conversation
The discovery call is all about uncovering the prospect's biggest challenges and understanding and qualifying their needs. This would be possible only if you ask the right questions and leverage the right strategies to get the answers that you need from your prospect.
You need to ask open-ended questions where the potential buyer can elaborate on their answers. Avoid one-word “yes” or “no” questions with no scope for further discussion. For example, instead of asking, “Are you happy with your CRM?” you can ask, “Can you elaborate on the issues you’re facing with your current CRM” or “Can you list the features that you wish your current CRM had?”
You probably have a list of questions you wish to ask the prospect. But don’t just play rapid-fire with the lead by robotically reading questions off the discovery call template. It’s okay to break from your list of prepared questions to take the conversation as it flows. Allow plenty of time for the lead to think of answers and keep talking.
Remember, the goal of the discovery call is to make the potential client feel heard and understood and not interrogated. And, if you’re struggling to make the conversation feel natural, we’ve got a quick guide to help you create a pitch-perfect sales call script that engages and clicks with the potential buyer.
Ask the right questions
“There are no stupid questions!”
Asking the wrong questions destroys your credibility and reputation at turbo speed. Before you get on a sales discovery call, you need to have the outline of the discovery call structure fleshed out.
- Your questions must be designed in a way that gets the buyer to think. You don’t want them to mechanically recite their goals and challenges. Instead, you need to work on getting them to trust you and volunteer information that they usually wouldn’t share.
- Ask questions that are relevant to the prospect. For example, if you’re connecting with a sales leader, you can ask, “Can you walk me through the sales process? What steps do you take when you generate a new lead?” This is a more effective way than simply asking, “Hey, how do you handle sales?”
When prospects see that they are conversing with someone who seems to know their stuff, they’re likely to reveal more.
Understand the prospect’s needs (diagnosis)
The primary goal of discovery call questions is to diagnose the prospect’s pain points and goals. Ask relevant questions to uncover what the prospect is looking for.
Use this checklist to frame your questions and unearth prospects’ pain points:
- What are your prospect’s current goals and priorities?
- What are your biggest hurdles in achieving these goals?
- What issues are they facing with the current solution?
- What is their approximate budget?
- Sometimes the prospect might not be aware of specific challenges. You can address these obstacles by asking, “A similar client of ours is facing [the issue]. Do you also have this challenge?”
Add value to the prospect (prescription)
Once you have diagnosed the challenges faced by the client, the next step is providing the right solution. This is where you specify the value propositions of your product. As mentioned above, instead of delivering a generic sales pitch, customize your product description to match the client’s requirements.
You need to clearly articulate how your product/service offers specific benefits for the client.
- Give a quick summary of the challenges faced by the prospect and specify how your product can help them.
- Help the prospect understand what they stand to gain by implementing your product or subscribing to your service.
- You can also consider sharing case studies or testimonials of previous clients having similar challenges and how your product helped them overcome similar situations.
Finish on a positive note
Before you close the sales discovery call, you need to leave the prospect with a good feeling about you. Even if they don’t choose your product, ending on a positive note can help in acquiring referrals that they might send your way.
Summarize the conversation by highlighting the customer’s pain points to show that you’ve actively listened to the discussion. Wrap the call by underlining how your company can work on solving these challenges. It’s a good idea to refrain from a hard sell, as it can leave a bad taste. Instead, take a consultative selling approach highlighting how your product/service can help the prospect overcome their challenges and achieve their goals.
Use the call to highlight that you’ve understood the prospect. Here’s how you can put this into action.
Say, “Allow me to summarize what we’ve discussed so far…”
Spend around 30 seconds highlighting the critical points discussed in the call and close off with:
“Did I get it right? Or have I missed anything?”
If you’ve handled the call perfectly, you’ll practically hear the prospect sighing with relief. After all, it’s not every day that a sales rep takes the time and effort to understand the prospect’s unique needs.
Now, it’s time for the home stretch.
Suggest the following steps
Don’t hang up without deciding on a concrete follow-up action. If the prospect seems interested, you can schedule a meeting with their sales team leader to discuss their requirements in detail and suggest the next steps. You can even provide them with a detailed product demo so that they can see your product in action.
However, if you feel that the prospect is not the right fit, you can openly state that you don’t want to sell them something that won’t help them. They will appreciate your candor.
Record the sales discovery call
Recording sales discovery calls ensures that you don’t miss any critical information shared on a sales call. Conversation intelligence software like Wingman make it easy to automatically record and transcribe sales conversations. You and your team can play the recording at your convenience to understand the prospect’s needs and build a customized sales approach that can help you enhance win rates and close deals successfully.
Book a free demo today to see Wingman in action and how it can help you discover more of the buyer’s journey.