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February 5, 2022

If you’re preparing for a discovery call, make sure to ask the right questions! This guide will help you learn how to ask the right discovery call questions.

What is a Discovery Call?

After connecting with prospects via email, a discovery phone call is your first contact. You ask prospects questions to find out their needs, goals, challenges, and how they relate with your product. This is the first step of the qualification process.

The discovery phone call is often the most important step in the sales process. It sets the tone for the entire relationship, both pre- and post-sale. Either you can build a strong relationship or you’ll be playing catch up.

I’ve been involved in deals that I thought would be quite standard, but which turned out to be too complex because I didn’t do enough research. While it is important to make a discovery phone call, it is equally important to understand the questions you will need to ask and prepare the questions.

Why is discovery so important?

Sales professionals must be able to get to the bottom of each prospect’s situation via discovery calls. Prospects are more comfortable participating in discovery calls as long as they don’t involve interrogation.

Here are some of these benefits of a discovery phone call.

1. Prospects will be better able to understand your product or business.

Prospects will leave the discovery telephone knowing who you and/or your company are. Prospects may have specific questions about a term or a product feature. This allows you to grab their attention and gauge their interest.

Tip: Solid product knowledge is essential to engage prospects during discovery calls.

2. You will have the chance to show your support for their success.

Prospects will feel that you have listened and provided a professional assessment of their business to determine if they can help. They will see that you care about their success and not just their money.

Double-check all information about the prospect in your company’s sales software. Check your CRM or lead management software to ensure you are familiar with the prospect’s business.

3. You can evaluate your chances of winning their business.

You will meet with your prospect during the discovery call to learn about their business, their influence within the organization, their willingness to advocate for your product, and their initial attitudes towards buying your product over a competitor. You can use a sales qualification framework such as BANT or another.

We could go on about all the benefits, but we’ll just get to the point. Below, I’ve listed my go-to discovery call questions. It may not be possible for me to answer all questions on every call.

As you’ll see, these sales discovery questions can be left open-ended. Open-ended questions are more effective in getting prospects to talk beyond a “yes/no” answer. You can either disqualify them or qualify them if they are not a good match.

Sales Discovery Process

The discovery phase is the first stage of the sales process. You will research your prospect, talk with them by phone, answer any questions and solve their problems. This will help you move them up the sales funnel.

Discovery Call Questions

1. Tell me more about the company.

This seemingly simple question begins with a simple topic: The prospect’s company. This allows them to speak in their own words. Be careful, however: If you ask this question too soon it could appear that you haven’t done any research. Start by sharing your knowledge and then ask the question. This will allow them to expand on their business description.

2. Tell me about your job. What do you do day-to-day?

This question will allow the employee to be known (not the company) casually and without any pressure. You don’t need to go into too many details. The best thing is that they will be eager to share.

3. Which metrics are you responsible for?

Here is where the pressure builds. If they don’t tell you what they were responsible for in the previous questions, this will reveal the information. The word “metric” is important because you are asking for a quantitative measure of success. This will allow to quantify the impact of your products on that metric.

Discovery Questions that Qualify

Once you have got to know your prospect, it’s time to identify their goals. Find out their problems and offer them solutions.

4. Please tell me your operational goals (financial, customer-related, or operational).

This question can also be accompanied by a timeline. Tell us your goals for the next month, quarter or year. Choose a timeline that’s appropriate for your product’s implementation. If you’re selling an enterprise-level tool that takes six months to set up, you may be more interested in setting yearly goals.

5. These are the best times for achieving these goals.

While the previous question might have suggested a timeline for your prospect this question asks when they must reach the goal. One goal could be to increase revenue by 5% per year. The cut-off date for the New Year is in three months. “Next year” does not necessarily mean “yearly”. It could be as early as this quarter.

6. What problem are you trying to solve?

This question might seem vague to you. The prospect will not be obliged to give you a precise answer. Talking to them about your business problems can help you learn more about their company.

7. Are you having trouble with [area] as it relates to the product?

This question is more specific. Although the question is open-ended, it drives them to a specific business area. This is not a question of yes/no. It will encourage prospects to think more deeply about their problems.

8. What is the root cause?

It is important to continue the conversation in order to uncover any friction points or pain points. Even though a prospect might know what their problem is, if they don’t understand why it is happening, you won’t be in a position to fix it. To create a compelling sales pitch, it is important to understand the root cause.

9. Why is it so important?

This question could be skipped if your prospect answers it naturally. It is important to understand the reasons this question is important in order to determine how urgent your prospect’s problem is.

10. Why is this not possible?

You can use the roadblocks your prospect encountered to solve the problem to help you see what obstacles they might face in the future. You can use budget as a qualifier if your prospect mentions it as a problem.

11. What do you think is the solution? Why?

This question will enable you to determine the prospect’s vision for solving the problem, even though your product may not be available.

12. What would a successful outcome look like?

This is where you can see their vision for success. Is this realistic? Is this something your product can help them accomplish? Listen without judgment, but be sure to take note of their expectations so that you can confirm if the product can help.

13. Are you prepared to handle the problem if the product is not what you expected?

This will allow you to determine how urgently they require the product. If they answer the question “I don’t have a plan” or “I can’t see a different way to solve the problem,” they are most likely a good-fit candidate.

Discovery Questions that Disqualify

Next, ask any questions that might disqualify the prospect. Learn as much information as possible about the decision-making process, from scheduling to budgeting.

14. What are your biggest roadblocks to implementing this strategy.

Even if you are aware of the roadblocks that your prospect will face it is important to ask them this question in order to get a direct answer.

15. What is the timeline for implementation?

This will allow you to determine if your product’s timeline is feasible and if it can be implemented in the timeframe of your prospect. If they don’t, they are not a good match.

16. What budget is required to solve this problem

Is there enough money to invest in a project or product? When it comes to sales, it’s never too early to discuss budget.

17. Where is the funding?

Before you ask this question, assess the tone of the conversation. This question may be too intrusive for someone who is not familiar with you. If you’re on good terms with your prospect, find out where the money will be coming from.

18. Is the budget owner an executive sponsorship?

An executive sponsor is a senior employee involved in a project and who is committed to its success. It doesn’t matter whether the executive sponsor is your prospect’s direct manager or a C-suite executive. It is important to know whether the budget’s owner consists of one person or an entire department.

Discovery Questions to Determine Next Steps

Ask questions that will move the prospect along the pipeline. Give next steps and a solution.

19. Who will be involved when selecting a vendor

This is an important question to determine whether your prospect is a decision maker, influencer, or gatekeeper. This will show how involved your prospect in the decision-making process.

20. Are you familiarized with the criteria used in selecting a vendor? These criteria were created by who?

If you’re speaking with a smaller business, the answer is most likely no. This is a crucial question if you work with enterprises. If possible, you should access the decision criteria.

21. Have you ever bought a similar product before?

It is important to find out what your prospect has done in the past. This will give you a competitive advantage. Even if they don’t mention them in their prospect, you should be prepared to defend your product against the competition.

22. Is this a case of competition?

Who is your prospect buying from and why? This question will reveal the truth without sounding defensive or whiny.

23. After you have made your decision, how do you actually buy the product? Are there any legal and procurement reviews?

This point is when you’ve most likely established trust with your prospect. Without having to push them away, you can ask them questions about their purchase process.

24. What are some possible pitfalls to be aware?

Question #14 mentions roadblocks, but this question will reveal any unexpected changes that could lead to the deal being halted. If the prospect is not willing to share much, this question can help uncover roadblocks.

25. How can I make it easier?

Sometimes you might not have the information they need or may be asked for additional documentation. You want to give the prospect the opportunity to explain how you can help them.

26. How can this solution improve my life?

Showing your prospect how your product will simplify their lives can make them feel better. This will make it easier to present your solution to your prospect.

27. How can you expect things to change over the next year if this solution is implemented?

Are they more likely to have customers? Are they likely to spend less time on tedious tasks? Encourage them to visualize how your product makes life easier.

28. Do you have mm/dd contact details?

You can also close the call by suggesting a date to follow-up.

You will know that you conducted a successful discovery phone call if you and your prospect can jointly create a written sales plan and outline the next steps. If you’re still not sure after you hang up, schedule another phone call to clarify any remaining details.

Next, I will share with you a complete discovery phone template that will increase your chances for success.

Discovery Call Template

1. Before you make any decisions, do your research about the prospect’s business.

Although it is obvious, I will reiterate it: Learn as much as you can about your prospect’s business and spend as much time researching them. Learn about their goals, challenges, vertical, and other details. Take a look at their engagement history with your company. Did they download a particular tool? This will give you an idea about their goals and needs.

Continue to research until your prospect is familiar with the business.

2. Send an agenda to your prospect.

This is an important tip. Prepare an agenda for the sales meeting. Discovery calls seem to have lower stakes because you are still early in your sales process. This is false. Discovery calls are crucial because they decide where the deal will go.

It is important to not let the deal slide or cause rifts in the conversation. Sending a agenda will ensure you cover all topics that your prospect is interested in. You can give them the chance to add more items if necessary.

3. You can both agree on a date that works for you.

When you send the agenda, set a time and date that works for you both. Ask your prospect how much time they have. It is important to ask your prospect how long they would like to spend with you.

Depending on their flexibility, you might be able demo the product during the discovery call. This approach may not be for everyone. Prospects might lose focus if you demo the product too quickly.

4. Talk to the other person over the phone.

Next, start a conversation with them over the phone. Ask them about their week, how it went, and what they did during the holidays. Throughout the interview, keep the conversational tone casual. This is not a job interview. It’s a chance to get to know each other better.

5. Set the stage.

Now it’s time to set the scene with the discovery questions that I suggested. These are:

  • Tell Us About Your Company
  • Tell me about your job. What do you do day-to-day?
  • What metrics are you responsible for?

You can skip the last question if they mention their success metrics in day-to-day work.

6. Qualify the prospect.

Based on these questions, you should be able to determine if your product can help. These questions will help you to qualify the prospect.

  • Tell Us about your goals (financial, customer-related, operational).
  • How can you achieve these goals?
  • What problem are you trying to solve?
  • Are you having problems with [area that is related to the product]?
  • What’s the problem?
  • Why it is important today?
  • HTML1 _____ ______
  • What do you think is the solution? Why?
  • How would a successful outcome look?
  • Do your plans include a solution if you don’t choose a product?

Keep the tone casual. These questions should flow naturally.

7. Ask questions that are not permitted.

It is equally important to disqualify prospects as it is to qualify them. This will ensure you don’t waste your time. These questions will help you to make informed decisions.

  • What are the main roadblocks to your plan’s implementation?
  • When is the implementation planned?
  • What budget is required to solve this problem
  • From where does the funding come?
  • Is the budget holder an executive sponsor? “

While you can be more formal, keep the conversation casual. Prospects should take the time to think about their answers and not just jot down the first thing they think of.

8. Establish next steps.

Last, establish next steps. It shouldn’t be about who the prospect is (or what you are!) Ask: What prospect (or you!) should ask to move the deal forward? Ask:

  • Who will take part in selecting a vendor for you?
  • Are you familiarized with the criteria used in selecting a vendor? These criteria were created by who?
  • Has a similar product been previously purchased?
  • Does it seem like a competition?
  • After you have made your decision, how do you actually buy the product? Are there any legal and procurement reviews?
  • What could go wrong?
  • What can you do to make it easier?
  • What can this solution do for your life?
  • What can you expect to see in a year when you implement this solution.
  • Do You have a way to follow-up on mm/dd?

1. Prioritize qualification over process-based questions.

A lack of a business plan and/or legal process should not be a barrier to selling your product. Once you have addressed the major issues, such setting a goal and discussing ways to achieve it (the “big ones”), you can move on with the details.

2. Ask questions until your prospect is fully understood.

You should use a discovery call to either identify a sales opportunity or disqualify a prospect. It is important to understand the needs of your prospect and to be clear about your solutions.

3. You can add value in subtle ways.

You can always add value to the discovery call by offering simple ways to help or providing recommendations. If you make a positive impression, prospects will be more likely (if not already) to contact you when they are ready for you to sell.

You will be able to close more deals with great discovery calls

By investing your time and energy in a great discovery telephone call, you can determine if the prospect is a good match for the product. This will ensure you only spend your time with prospects who are most likely close. This will allow you to exceed your quota, and be a standout performer in your team.

Conclusion

It is important to ask questions during discovery calls so that you can prepare for a successful meeting. Asking the right questions will help you gain a better understanding of the coach or consultant’s capabilities and whether they are a good fit.

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