What is a discovery call in sales? It's your first step in closing a deal. Let's see how.
You have successfully scheduled a discovery call with a prospect. Whether you did it through a cold call, a referral, or a high-value marketing form, you managed to grab the lead's attention. You did it!
What's next? What do you ask? How do you structure your call? How do you ensure you increase your chances of winning the prospect?
This blog answers these and more such questions. Presenting 20 discovery call questions you must ask to win more business. But first, let's understand the definition of a discovery call.
What is a discovery call?
A discovery call is a part of the lead qualification process. It is the first call you make to prospects after they show interest in your product or service. It's a process where you ask them various questions to understand their pain points, overall needs, budget, and more.
Sales reps like to call this first actual interaction a "discovery call," while prospects informally call these "fishing expeditions."
No matter how you describe it, this first connection, when done right, can be the start of a tremendous vendor-customer relationship. By the right way, we mean having a sales discovery process and the right set of questions. Ultimately, the questions you ask will help you determine if the lead is a good fit and if you should move them further in the sales funnel.
But before you pick up the phone, ensure you are prepared for the sales discovery process. The following section will help you do so.
How to prepare for a sales discovery process?
You can divide your preparation in two stages:
Stage 1: Research
- Research prospects and their company: Before you call the lead, learn more about their job roles, industry, and pain points. A quick background research will give you all the valuable information you need to tailor your questions.
- Review your buyer personas: Not all leads will be a good fit. So, review your personas, budget, company size, revenue, and other criteria to remember the qualification criteria.
Stage 2: Strategy
- Segment your discovery call questions: Segment your questions based on introduction, qualification, disqualification, and next action items to have a chronological flow in your conversation.
- Be prepared with insights: Research and gather relatable industry insights you can share with your prospects. Think of case studies, industry reports, and so on.
- Show your product's value: Sure, discovery calls are the first conversation with your lead. But it can also be a platform to demonstrate the value of your product. Show how your solution can alleviate your prospect's pain points and help them achieve their goals.
A typical discovery call follows this basic structure:
- Next steps
Now that you know your lead, it's time to nail the discovery call.
Here are some tips for having an effective conversation:
- Ask open-ended questions. This will allow your prospects to explain their answers. If they provide one-word replies, encourage them to expand by using statements like "Tell me more about ___."
- Listen and empathize. Studies suggest that 69% of buyers cited "listening to my needs" as the number one thing a sales rep should practice for improving the overall sales experience. You get the point, right?
Carefully listening to your prospect, validating their emotions, and providing a response based on the situation can leave a great impression.
- Ask for feedback. Take feedback from your leads and ask if they have any follow-up questions. This is a chance to clear any lingering doubts or misunderstandings.
- Don't be hard on yourself. Sometimes even after your preparation, things may go differently than planned. And that is ok. Think of it as a valuable learning experience.
20 discovery call questions
Discovery call questions qualify a prospect for your product or service. A rule of thumb: keep them open-ended. Probe your prospect's needs, processes, goals, and obstacles.
These questions can be divided into four broad categories: introduction, qualification, disqualification, and the next step.
Discovery call questions: introduction
This stage setting phase validates all your pre-call research. It's also a phase to learn about the lead's pain points and get all the valuable insights you need to move forward.
1. Tell me about your company.
This is a seemingly simple yet highly critical question. Asking this allows the lead to introduce themselves and tell you more about their company.
One word of advice: time this question well. It shouldn't look like you don't know anything about the prospect. Start by saying all that you know and then allow them to add to your description.
2. What is your role, and what do you do day-to-day?
This question is a must if you want to know more about the lead in a more casual way.
3. What are your KPIs, or what metrics do you drive?
If the lead hasn't spoken about the key metrics they track, it is time to ask this question. Make sure you ask for a quantifiable metric to understand how they measure success.
Discovery call questions: qualification
After this brief introduction and some insights into your prospect's roles, it's time to understand their pain points. Use these questions to learn about the prospects' problems and qualify them based on their answers.
4. What are your goals?
This answer will depend on the prospect's role in the organization. You can be more specific by asking about the prospects' timelines to achieve those goals. It can be next month, quarter, or even a year.
This timeline will depend on your product's implementation. For instance, asking about immediate goals is better if you sell a self-serve product. Similarly, asking for yearly goals makes more sense if it's an enterprise-level solution.
5. What problem are you trying to solve?
This question may sound vague, but that is how it should be. Give the prospect a chance to express their problems and business challenges.
6. What do you think is the root cause behind this problem?
This is a vital follow-up question to uncover all the areas of friction. Knowing the problem is not enough. Understanding why they are having these problems will allow you to tailor your pitch and explain how your solution can remove the source of the problem.
7. How would you define a successful outcome?
This question is your chance to visualize how success will look like for the prospect. Is it even realistic? Can your product help them achieve it? Listen to the answers without any prejudice and try to fully understand their expectations.
8. What made you explore us?
In this question, try to look for an answer that focuses on the prospect's expectations from your solution.
9. Which features or factors matter the most when choosing which solution is right for you?
This can be functionality, scalability, price, or any other factor. Map it to your personas and other demographic or firmographic criteria to qualify or disqualify the prospect.
Discovery call questions: disqualification
Next, it's time to ask all the questions that reveals the decision-making process, from budgeting to scheduling, and see if the prospect is a good fit.
10. What are your primary roadblocks?
Even if you have an idea of the roadblocks the prospect will face, it's still necessary to ask this question to get straight answers from them.
11. What's your timeline for implementation?
Does the prospect's timeline align with your product's implementation and product timelines? If not, they are not a good fit.
12. What's the approximate budget?
Does the lead have enough budget to invest in your product?
13. Can you explain the purchasing process?
This will tell you how soon you can close the deal.
14. Whose will be funding the project?
While this might be too probing, ask this question only after measuring the interaction's tone. Ask it only if the lead sounds comfortable and is willing to share more information.
15. Does an "executive sponsor" own the budget"?
It's always good to know if the budget owner is an entire department or an individual, such as an executive sponsor, who is usually a senior-level employee or a C-suite executive.
Discovery call questions: next steps
Lastly, ask questions to move the leads further into the sales pipeline. Ask questions related to the next steps.
16. Who else is involved in selecting the vendor?
This question will help you understand if the prospect is a gatekeeper, decision-maker, or decision influencer.
17. Have you purchased a similar solution before?
If the lead has already used a similar product in the past, try to identify which one. Even if the lead is elusive about the name, it's your chance to establish a competitive advantage and uphold your brand above the competition.
18. Is this a competitive situation?
This will tell you if your prospect is looking at other vendors without sounding defensive or whiny.
19. How will things become better after you implement this solution?
Nudge your prospect to imagine how things will improve once they use your product. Will they gain more customers, automate tasks, or become more efficient?
20. What's a good time to follow up with you?
Conclude the call by asking for a date to follow up and take the conversation forward. You'll know if your discovery call went well, if the prospect suggests the next steps or if you can define a written sales plan.
If there is lingering uncertainty when you hang up the phone, keep another call to iron out the rest of the details.
5 tips to collect actionable responses during sales discovery calls
A great sales discovery call also requires you to ask the appropriate questions and have a dialogue. These tips will help you avoid getting monosyllabic answers and encourage prospects to divulge the most valuable information you need.
1. Ask probing questions
Binary questions result in you talking more than the lead. If you ask open-ended questions, you'll get a lot more information. For example, instead of asking, "is your marketing head responsible for budgets?" ask: "who is responsible for the project's budget?"
2. Don't ask too many questions in one sentence
Too many questions bundled in a single sentence can confuse the prospect, and they might end up answering only some of the questions. Keep your leads focused by asking one question at a time.
To do this, make a list of questions that you really want to ask before the call starts.
3. Take notes during the call
Taking notes during these calls is important. It allows you and your team to refer these notes as the lead progresses along the sales funnel.
Pro tip: Use an AI notetaker to automatically record and transcribe your calls. When you automate note-taking, you can focus solely on having engaging conversations. AI notetaker like Fireflies not only records and transcribes but also automatically send meeting notes into your CRM, thereby eliminating manual data entry.
4. Build a rapport and listen more
Listening to prospects during the call is critical if you want to build a rapport and reassure them that you understand their pain points. Remember, these calls should always be a dialogue.
Pro Tip: Use conversation intelligence software for sales teams to track average talk time, number of questions asked, total calls made, silence duration, the longest monologue, and more such critical calling insights.
5. Avoid giving product demos during the discovery call
It's tempting to talk about how great your product is and all the wonders it can do for prospects. But don't do that. You will miss collecting the information you need. Be a consultant, not a sales rep, during these calls.
Set the stage with the right sales discovery call questions
A great sales discovery call starts by investing time and energy. The more prepared you are, the more you will be able to engage in a dialogue with the prospect and determine if they are a good or poor fit for your product.
Ultimately, when you nail your discovery call and the lead qualification process, you'll be able to close more deals and eventually exceed your quota to become a star performer.