7 Easy Steps To Create An Effective Sales Discovery Call Structure

7 Easy Steps To Create An Effective Sales Discovery Call Structure

Vibhanshu Dixit
Vibhanshu Dixit

Table of Contents

The number one mistake that sales reps make is rushing to give a demo of the product as soon as they join a call.

This rush increases the chances of a customer dropping off the call. Instead of understanding prospects' pain point, struggle, budget, and need, you focus on sales and profit.

Do you know that around six out of 10 buyers want to discuss pricing on the very first call? And more than half want to understand how the product works on the first call.

A perfect sales discovery call targets the question- ‘How can I solve the core problems of my customers.’

If you understand your customer’s emotional drivers and then offer a solution, it improves the chances of closing a deal. Since the sales discovery call forms the first step in a sales cycle, you need to ensure that it hits the target.  

Sales discovery calls set the foundation of the company’s entire relationship with the prospect before and after closing the deal. Thus, it becomes critical to develop and execute your sales strategy according to a sales discovery call structure.

What is a Discovery Call in Sales?

A sales discovery call is the first call between the sales rep and the potential buyer or prospect. It is a two-way conversation aiming to identify if your product or service matches with what the prospect is looking for.

You will either qualify the prospect (discover a sales opportunity) or disqualify it to save your time.

If you continue to spend time and effort on disqualified leads, the cost will simply add up. So, it’s better to spend time understanding the interest of the qualified leads to offer them a relevant solution.

Sales discovery calls are an essential part of lead qualification. Though lead qualification can also happen over emails, phone calls are more effective. This is because you can directly communicate with the prospects and listen to their pain points without waiting for their answer like in an email.

Why is a Sales Discovery Call Process Crucial?

Sales discovery call structure

1. Helps in Empathizing with Prospects

Today’s prospects already have access to dozens of pieces of information about various products and services. They simply do not want loads of information about how many stars your services have on clutch.co.

Instead, they are looking for someone who can understand their struggles and help in solving them. That’s exactly what a sales discovery call should do.

For instance, if your prospect is an HR manager you can ask about how they are dealing with the hiring process. Then empathize with their problems ‘I’m totally getting an idea of the efforts you are putting in. What if you use a tool that could ease the process?

2. Offers Relevant Solutions

Imagine that your prospect is an IT manager who is dealing with a massive data breach, and you’re selling them project management software. What will be the result? An instant disconnect of the call.

A sales discovery call should offer a solution that targets and solves the prospect’s problems. The prominent sales discovery call agenda is to make prospect's life better. In this case, sell a data backup software that can solve the manager’s problem.

3. Builds the Foundation of the Buyer’s Journey

A discovery call in sales is a critical touchpoint between the company and the potential buyer. A right sales call can set a positive experience for the buyer and make him move smoothly in the buyer’s journey. Here, a sales rep should learn the core motivations of the prospects and how the product can facilitate them.

4. Establishes the Authenticity of the Salespeople

If you follow the right sales discovery call structure, the prospect will start believing in you. This will happen only if the prospect feels understood, and your solution is relevant to him.

Once salespeople establish their credibility in understanding the prospect’s industry and problem, the prospect won’t hesitate in building the conversation from there.

5. Tailor Experiences as per the Prospects

A sales discovery call is more than just about selling your product to the prospect and making a profit. A perfectly executed sales discovery call will help you get an idea about the personality and communication style of your prospects.

It provides you an opportunity to design the proposals or show them a sales video in a way that the potential buyer wishes to receive the information.  

7 Easy Steps To Creating An Effective Sales Discovery Call Structure

Effective Sales Discovery Call Structure

If you keep on exaggerating the epic-ness of your product and services, the prospect will start asking himself, “What about me?”. And clearly, this is not a positive sign in sales and a common sales mistake.

You should rather spend time and effort on understanding if the prospect actually needs your product.

If you keep on bombarding information on them, they will disconnect and move on. This will waste your time as well as theirs. Thus, it’s worth following a sales discovery call structure to close more deals.

If you want to win more deals, here is the sales discovery call structure you need to know.

1. Preparation for the Call: The First Step in Creating Sales Discovery Call Structure

Know your prospects even before they start telling you about themselves. This step serves as a helping hand before you get on the discovery call. Research about every prospect you are about to talk with.

Did your company already have conversations with them?

What specific things did they mention?

It’s also a best practice to research disqualified prospects since it will help you cut them off from the list of future prospects.

Pre-call research before the sales discovery call should give you information about the prospect that is readily available. To get started in the preparation phase, you can do the following:

  • Discover prospects on LinkedIn: The best place to find a professional is undoubtedly LinkedIn. Research about the prospect on LinkedIn and note down what is it that they do? What are their past and current projects? Also, look out for their interests, awards they got and observe the similarities between your prospects and you. This can benefit you in one of the two ways:

    • Great conversations start with similarities. If you mention the similarities, you have with your prospects e.g., same last name, same school, or college, they will be more interested in talking to you. And if you offer them the right solution, they will eventually buy from you.
    • Compliments about accomplishments may sound like flattery, but they work. Even studies say that compliments can create a positive image of you and your company. So, every time you start a conversation, don’t forget to appreciate the accomplishments of your prospects. It will certainly draw them into the conversation.

    If you look closely enough, you will get all the details you need on their LinkedIn profile itself. Exploring their industry, the content they are engaging with, and where they came from can lead to further research.
    For instance, if you’re selling talent management software, you should look if your prospect is into talent acquisition or planning to get into it.

  • No LinkedIn? Google them instead: If they don’t have a LinkedIn presence, a simple Google search can come to your rescue. Search if they have any personal website. Take a note of what they have been doing for the past 3-5 years. You should also find out if they specifically need your product or service. For instance, if you are selling an AI grammar correction tool, find out if they are writing regularly on a platform.
  • Check if your lead is qualified or not before the sales discovery call: The main aim of a sales discovery call is to find out if the prospect needs your product or service or not. But for that to happen, you must portray your ideal customer. This means that you should include the tangible characteristics of your ideal customer.

Before you jump in to figuring out who is your ideal customer, reflect and answers these questions:

  • With whom I want to work?
  • Is the market big enough?
  • What are the job titles of my prospects?
  • How can I reach them? Online or offline?
  • What’s the ideal budget for my prospects?
  • What industries are my prospects into?

In sales, you have to keep reminding yourself that disqualifying prospects is as important as qualifying prospects. You’re in the business of selling the right solution to the right person at the right time.

So, it’s better to keep disqualified leads at bay, save time, and direct your efforts in converting the qualified ones. It will strengthen your pipeline and stop you from wasting time on the wrong people.

Remember that around 50% of your listed prospects aren’t a great fit for your product.

Before you delve into the research of the sea of information on the internet, ensure you spend only 10-15 minutes on it. The internet is flooded with information, and you don’t want to keep doing research all the time.

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In addition to helping you scope out your prospects, the preparation phase also helps you re-evaluate your product and services. If the prospects keep getting disqualified, then the problem might not be in them.

It’s the best time to review if your product is solving a common problem or if the market size is big enough. If you get the answer as NO, then it’s time you adjust your product and then review it again. This mindset can boost overall productivity of your sales team.

Reviewing your own product during the first step of creating a sales discovery call structure can help you polish your product first. If prospects keep disqualifying for the same reason, it will be best to escalate this matter to the product team or to the higher executives. Remember to reflect on how your product should be changed to address the issue of disqualifying prospects?

For instance, if you are selling influencer marketing services aimed at small startups. But after you do your research on Google and LinkedIn, you find out that the buzz is about video content marketing.

And your potential prospects are excited about its use in their startups. Here, the problem is that you don’t offer any video marketing services. To address this, you can hire and build a team of expert video marketers and establish your credibility in that area.

2. Set the Tone Right With Enthusiasm

The way you talk matters a lot. When you speak on a call with a prospect, always smile. Even if he can’t see you, your tone will tell him that you are smiling. This is the start of the second step of creating an effective sales discovery call structure. The next is to bring enthusiasm as you start talking with your prospects.

You must be excited about working with them. If you’re not, you need to re-evaluate your prospecting strategy. Remember that being enthusiastic also means that you are patient with what the other person says.

One method to use here is to mimic or repeat the main highlights of their sentences. This signals them that you’re patiently listening to them.

“Oh, okay, so you recently joined as a Sr. content marketing manager in a startup and now training a team of writers. That’s great. How are you dealing with this challenge?”

The more humane you sound in the call, the better will be the conversation. Nobody wants to talk to a person who keeps on ranting about the product features. Prospects want you to listen to them without rushing to the product features.

Preparing yourself to be enthusiastic before the call also means that you are in a positive mindset. You can’t have an excellent sales discovery call if you are not interested in talking positively.

Imagine yourself talking to a prospect just after you finished lunch, and you’re feeling lazy. Not a good idea. The prospect will sense the boredom in your voice and won’t take the conversation further.

3. Confirm the Sales Discovery Agenda

Confirm the agenda you described in the meeting invite mail. Let the prospects know what they can expect from the call. Ask them if they would like to add a subject that they want to talk about. From the very beginning, start building the rapport. Write down the information they share and ensure you address them towards the end of the call.

This step will make prospects believe that their time and voice matter. You are showing them that the sales discovery call will be a two-way conversation.

  • I’m here to discuss X, Y, and Z. Which additional topics would you like to discuss?
  • What are your expectations from this call?

After asking these questions, it’s a good idea to mention something you have found during the research. Mention the similarities you have with them and build the conversation from there. You can also show your curiosity about their past accomplishments and how they achieved it.

4. Understand Prospect's Pain Points

Depending on what the prospects share with you regarding their business, you can search for opportunities. You can determine a plan that will help them become better in business or as a professional.

Start with conditional questions based on your research and to see if your prospect qualifies for the minimal requirements. Then start to unearth their pain, which they don’t even know exists. Ask questions to unravel their priorities and highlight common areas where your product can add value. Remember, empathizing with prospects is an vital part of a winning B2B sales strategy as well.

For instance, you can ask: what challenges did you face while hiring the marketing team? How did you tackle X?

5. Ask the Right Questions and Listen Patiently

Effective Sales Discovery Call Structure
“The questions you ask are more important than the things you could ever say.” – Thomas Freese

Asking the right questions can give you a deeper understanding of your prospect. If you ask concise questions, you will target the struggles of your prospect and provide a prescription for it. This is where a sales discovery call script comes handy. When you've pre-written outline of what you're going to say, you bring confidence to the table.  

A script also helps you in asking the right question to keep the conversation on track. It will save time for both of you. Getting a short and crisp answer from your prospect means your questions are directed to the exact pain points.

Remember, six out of 10 prospects want to discuss pricing in the very first call. Also, more than half want to understand how the product works in the sales discovery call. This perspective can be an aid in formulating a successful discovery call process.

Another crucial point here is to listen to the answers. Ideally, a sales rep should talk 45% of the time, while 55% of the time will be dedicated to prospecting talking.

The science is simple, the more you listen, the more they will trust you.

6. Develop a Vision and Present a Solution

In this step of sales discovery call structure, you need to move the conversation from your prospect’s frustrating struggles to the innovative solutions.

Now you are talking about solving the cause of pain rather than gathering them up. At this step, you need to make the prospect believe that his problem can be solved using your product. Present the Unique Selling Proposition of your product how it can target the problem.

To make this effective, you can leverage social proofs to build their trust in your product. In early sales discovery calls, prospects want to know how their peers solved a similar problem. You can grab this opportunity by showing them a real-world customer example or a use case.

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In this step, you need to design the conversation to move from emotional decision making to rational decision making. This is the point where you show your prospect that he can also achieve better results using your product like others.

The secret here is to keep building the trust of your prospects and back the product with enough validations.

7. Schedule Your Next Sales Discovery Call Before Closing

This is an important part of sales discovery process; keep converting your prospects. Every qualified lead counts, so don’t stop after you get success with a big prospect. The effective sales discovery structure is a process and not a one-day event.

Tell them what are the next steps and ask for their opinions. Write a sales email that converts to ensure that you keep things in a loop. If the sales discovery call went as you planned, the next step would be a product demo to demonstrate how your product solves their pain points.  

Hence, before you hang up, schedule the next meeting with the prospect.

Sales Discovery Call Script: Questions to Ask in a Call

Top sales performers ask around 11-14 questions per discovery call, as per The Global Inside Sales Association.

It’s not just about the number of questions you ask but also about how targeted the questions are. If you ask the right questions, then the chances of getting prospects to the next stage increase by 60%.

Here are some questions that help in building a conversation and increasing engagement:

Sales Discovery Questions to Understand Challenges

  • How did you go about solving problem A that you mentioned?
  • How long does it take for you to decide X?
  • Tell me a few things about your current process.
  • Which specific areas are you looking to improve?
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Sales Discovery Questions to Understand Needs and Motivation:

  • What prompted you to consider our product?
  • How will picking the right tool can ease your process?
  • Which one thing would you want from a solution?
  • I remember you mentioned how you dealt with X challenges in your organization. How will the process get affected if you consider a tool?

Sales Discovery Questions to Understand Compatibility of Your Product with Their Current Tool:

  • What were your expectations when you bought that product?
  • How do you aim to use that product in other areas?
  • Can you talk about your implementation process?
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Successful sales people aren’t selling a product. They’re selling a story. The prospect isn’t asking “Sell me this pen.” Instead you need to “Tell them why they should care about this pen and how it solves their particular problem.”

Conclusion: Keep Evolving your Sales Discovery Process

A perfect sales discovery structure is ever-evolving. Based on your experience and understanding of the prospects, you should re-evaluate your product as well as discovery strategy. You also need to remember that not every prospect will convert, and that’s fine.

If your sales discovery call wasn’t effective, you would find the prospect backs up towards the end. Your success metric of sales discovery call should depend on the meeting quota and the success the customer achieves using your product.

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