What is a discovery call?
A discovery call is the first conversation between your sales rep and your prospect after they’ve expressed initial interest in your product or services. The goal of a discovery call is to understand a prospect’s situation and evaluate whether they fit your ideal customer profile and value proposition.
When done right, discovery calls help you get rich buyer insights, qualify prospects, and move them further down the sales funnel.
Why are discovery calls important?
A discovery call is the best way to determine if a prospect matches your ideal customer profile and will buy from you. A solid sales discovery process is fundamental in ensuring the success of your sales strategy.
According to HubSpot:
“Depending on who you sell to and what you sell, you could spend 10 to 20 hours with your prospect. You should have a good idea of whether the deal will close and for how much. Luckily, you can find out right from the start with discovery calls.”
Discovery calls offer several benefits by helping you:
Unearth key buyer insights
Understand their needs, goals and pain points
Evaluate whether a prospect is a good fit for you
Move prospects further down the deal pipeline
Build a healthy rapport
What are the steps to follow for effective discovery calls?
If you want to hit all the right notes with your discovery calls, here are some steps to follow for an effective discovery call structure:
Discovery calls are a great way to build a healthy relationship with your prospect based on mutual trust and respect. That requires being on the same page as your prospect by performing in-depth research on their company, role, interests, and organizational aspects.
You can prepare by looking into:
Account history and recent activity using the CRM
Company website, social media presence, and profile on LinkedIn and Crunchbase
Your competitor’s offerings and whether they’ll interest the prospect
Using the above info, you can craft a pitch that works for a particular prospect and choose the most important sales discovery call questions to ask.
It’s also a good idea to compile your resources as the prospect might ask for a demo, walkthrough, product specification, and more if the call goes well.
Establish the agenda and purpose of the call first, rather than bombarding the prospect with discovery questions. This sets the tone for the call and lets the prospect know what to expect.
Here’s how you can relay the message:
“The purpose of this conversation is to understand your situation and see how we can help. If we seem to be a good fit for each other, we can continue our conversation by scheduling a follow-up to provide more product-specific insights. Does that work for you?”
According to Sales Insights Lab, at least 50% of your prospects aren’t a good fit. So, it’s crucial to evaluate and qualify leads during the discovery call by asking questions such as:
“How does this challenge affect your business and your teams?”
“What processes and tools do you currently use to address this challenge?”
“Do you have a budget and a timeline to solve this problem?”
Ask open-ended questions to discuss the prospect’s pain points and how they affect the overall business. For instance, if you’re selling an HR solution to fast-track onboarding and training, you could ask:
“How are you handling the challenges in onboarding new employees for a rapidly expanding team?”
What challenges do you face in training and mentoring the new employees and assessing their performance?”
You can weave these pain points into your sales pitch to show how your product will quickly tackle the issues your prospect is facing.
After discussing the pain points, the next step is to highlight their consequences on the business.
When the prospects realize the impact of the problems on their business goals, they’re more likely to act with a sense of urgency to resolve the issues promptly. This paves the way for you to strike while the iron is hot and present your solution.
Using the previous example of the HR software, you could ask questions such as:
“How is the current process affecting the performance of each team?”
“How much money is slow onboarding costing your organization?”
“What happens if you don’t improve this situation by the end of the quarter?”
Before pitching, you must make sure that you’ve established trust and rapport with your prospect, and evaluated their fit as per your ideal customer profile.
Once you’ve covered the challenges and their impact on the prospect’s business, the next step is to calm their rising vulnerability and urgency by pitching your product as a viable solution.
Asking need-payoff questions is one of the best ways to show what your prospect would gain by adopting your solution. Here are some examples of need-payoff questions using the previous example of an HR tool:
“What are the benefits of automating employee onboarding, feedback, and performance analysis?”
“How much revenue and cost savings can you ensure each quarter with automation?”
“How will our solution affect your employee morale, motivation, and productivity?”
At this stage, your prospect is more or less convinced to take your product for a spin.
That’s why it’s important to end with a call to action — schedule a demo, follow-up call to discuss product specifics, or talk to the decision-makers. This action takes a qualified prospect further down the sales cycle.
Nailing discovery calls and boosting the conversion rates is a continuous learning process. So, you should record and transcribe each discovery call so that you can analyze them to:
Understand a rep’s performance
Identify missed opportunities and areas to improve
Check whether the rep went off-script
Unearth insights on buyer behavior, pain points, needs, and more to help your sales, marketing, product, and customer success teams
Performing such analysis in real-time helps you provide practical, actionable feedback to your reps and coach them into becoming discovery call superstars. You can also use this data to improve your discovery call template and script.
Dos and don’ts of discovery calls
Set the purpose of the meeting up front.
Ask open-ended questions to keep the conversation flowing.
Ask well-researched and informed questions to show you’ve done your homework.
Ask questions that take the buyer a step closer to the deal.
Follow-up with questions that uncover the prospect’s needs, motivations and pain points.
Listen to the prospect patiently.
Approach the prospect with incorrect info.
Waste time on small talk.
Overwhelm the prospects with a series of never-ending questions.
Talk too long without any pauses.
What are some examples of questions to ask during sales discovery calls?
Here’s what makes a great discovery question — it’s open-ended, well-researched, and dives into the prospect’s needs, goals, and challenges.
Discovery questions shouldn’t annoy or alienate the prospect. Instead, they should offer value to the prospects and help them discover something new during the process.
Examples of sales discovery questions
Kicking off the discovery call by asking the prospect about their role within a company is a great warm-up question for sales discovery. Then, you can ask 2-3 follow-up questions to understand the prospect’s primary duties, KPIs, challenges, and decision-making authority.
Similarly, when suggesting a solution to your prospect’s challenges (in the form of your solution), you can ask follow-up questions about their budget, urgency, and willingness to try your solution.
For instance, if the discovery question you’re asking is, , you can follow it up with:
If you want to nail your discovery call, here are some sales discovery questions you should be asking:
“Can you tell me about your company and role?”
“Can you tell me about your business goals and objectives?”
“What would a successful outcome look like for you?”
“What is the biggest challenge you’re trying to solve?”
“What is your budget for resolving this issue?”
“Why hasn’t this problem been addressed before?“
"What happens if these problems go unresolved?”
“If we can suggest the right solution for your problem,
what will it take for you to adopt it?”
“How can I make the adoption of our solution easier for you?”
“If you implement this solution, what changes do you expect to see a year from now?”
As mentioned earlier, don’t interrogate the prospect with a barrage of questions. Instead, limit the discovery questions to 3-4, and choose them wisely.