Everyone talks about the importance of closing deals.
But in most cases, the deals are won or lost before you even get to the close stage.
That’s all because of the power of the discovery call.
Good discovery call questions give your reps the chance to get to know a prospect, uncover their needs and, hopefully, figure out whether they would be a good fit for your business.
Most importantly, these 15-30 minute calls save them from wasting time on people who will never do business with your organization.
So what questions should you ask to make a discovery call run smoothly? Let’s walk through that
What’s the Goal of a Discovery Call?
Sales discovery calls provide a number of benefits to your sales process. But at their core, they have one major objective: to qualify good leads (and, inversely, disqualify bad ones).
Over the course of the call, your reps will invest time in:
- Learning about the prospect, their needs, and their pain
- Helping the prospect understand your business and product
- Gauging your chances of winning their business
It makes sense, then, why good sales discovery questions are key to the process.
By asking good questions, your reps can quickly and efficiently figure out whether the prospect is worth their time.
Another benefit of discovery calls: they help reps identify the specific challenge the prospect is facing.
So when your reps come back to them with an honest-to-god pitch, they can better align the conversation with their needs and pain.
How to Run a Stellar Discovery Call
There’s more to a great discovery call then randomly picking up the phone and qualifying a prospect.
It requires your reps to approach each prospect intentionally, with the goal of uncovering as much information as possible.
Yet, at the same time, reps need to use the discovery call to share your organization’s value prop and educate them on your business.
Here are some things they should do if they want to have stellar discovery calls:
- Do your homework; don’t ask things you could have researched ahead of time
- Write down your sales discovery questions and review them before the call
- Start by understanding the buyer, asking questions that give you the context for both the individual and the company as a whole
- Unearth their pain, asking questions that make them increasingly aware of their problem
- Paint a picture of how wonderfully your solution will solve that problem
- End with appropriate an appropriate next step, usually setting up a longer demo
- If you’re going to disqualify the prospect, be clear about the fact that you don’t think it’s a good fit
As you can see, having a solid set of questions is paramount to sales discovery success. So let’s walk through some questions you should ask on your calls.
23 Good Discovery Call Questions
The major questions asked on a discovery call fall into five main categories:
- Table-setting questions
- Qualification questions
- Disqualification questions
- Buying process questions
- Next steps questions
Keep in mind that whether your reps use these or other questions, that all of their discovery call questions should be open-ended.
After all, the goal of discovery is to…you guessed it…discover. Your reps can’t do that if they’re constantly leading the witness.
The goal is to use these questions to push the conversation forward and keep digging for more info. If all it takes is a few questions to get the prospect talking, that’s all you need.
The first thing your reps should do is set the table for the rest of the conversation. Once they get the basics out of the way, then they’ll be ready to move on to the deeper probing questions.
1. How did you hear about us?
This isn’t your way of asking “did you find us on LinkedIn or our website?” Your marketing team should have already logged that info in your CRM. Rather, this is a way to get them talking about the incident that started them looking for a solution.
2. Tell me about your company.
Normally, everyone wants to talk about their own business. This question is a great way to “grease the wheels” of the conversation, and can give you an idea of how hard you’ll have to work to pry information out of them.
3. What is your role?
This question moves the conversation from the business to the individual. As they answer, see if they reveal anything about their team dynamics or the KPIs they’re accountable for.
4. What metrics are you responsible for?
If they don’t disclose this information in answering the previous question, ask it here.
After your reps have learned about the prospect, it’s time to identify their goals and clarify their pain points. These will help the rep determine if your product can solve the customer’s problem.
5. What are your team’s goals?
This is a direct way of finding out what the prospect is prioritizing, and whether they care about the problem your product solves.
6. When do you need to achieve these goals?
This question helps you establish whether there’s a sense of urgency in play here. If they’re focusing exclusively on long-term goals, see if you can shorten the time frame to build a greater sense of urgency.
7. What problem are you trying to solve [with the product]?
Use this intentionally vague question to determine whether the prospect’s perception of your value aligns with reality.
8. Are you having problems in [area as it relates to the product]?
Now, you’re getting a little deeper into the specific ways that prospect is dissatisfied with their current solution.
9. Do you know the source of that problem?
Once you ask this question, you’ll have a clear idea of where their pain points are specifically, so you can address that throughout the call.
10. Why is it a priority today?
It’s possible that they’ve already revealed this information. But if not, it’s important to know why they’re considering a solution now to help you speak to that sense of urgency.
11. Why hasn’t it been addressed before?
This is a great question to help you figure out what internal roadblocks you may have to deal with if the deal moves forward.
12. What will you do if you don’t purchase [the product]?
Your biggest competitor isn’t another company or product. It’s inertia. This question helps the prospect visualize what the cost of inertia will be.
13. How is this issue affecting the rest of your team?
This question is particularly helpful for getting the prospect to think about others in their organization, and how this purchase could gain them some goodwill among their colleagues.
Identifying bad fits is (arguably) just as important as figuring out the good ones. This next series of questions can help your reps determine whether this is the case.
14. What are your primary roadblocks to implementing [the product]?
Remember: you only have so many sales calories in a day/week/month. This question will give you an idea of what you’re up against, and whether it’s worth your effort.
15. What’s your timeline for implementation?
This question helps you figure out when this deal is likely to close, so you can figure out where in your pipeline to prioritize it.
16. What’s your budget?
This question may seem too forward, but you don’t want to waste the prospect’s time or yours if they can’t afford your solution.
Buying process questions.
Understanding the internal dynamics and (dare we say it) politics of the prospect’s organization is important. It will help your reps figure out how much of an uphill battle it will be to get a positive purchasing decision.
17. Have you purchased a similar solution before? Walk me through the process.
This gives you an idea of their history with products like yours, as well as explaining whether they have a structured buying process in place.
18. Who else do we need to get on board with this decision?
This tells you clearly who the stakeholders are, and how much consensus-building you’ll need to do.
19. Who controls the budget? Is that person an executive sponsor?
At the end of the day, it all comes down to dollars and cents. So you need to know the dynamics with the budget holder.
20. Are you considering another alternative?
This lets you know what the competitive landscape is so you can prioritize and adapt accordingly.
Lastly, ask questions that move the prospect along the pipeline. Reps can provide your product as a solution, and offer an opportunity to learn more.
21. Who should we loop in going forward?
When setting up next steps, it’s important to keep all relevant parties in the loop. This is a great question
22. How can I make this a no-brainer?
This gives the prospect a chance to lay it all out on the table, so all expectations are clear.
23. Can I follow up with you on [specific date]?
Once you finish the discovery call, your next objective is to get a follow up on the books. That way, you already have a commitment before you hang up.
Final Thoughts on Sales Discovery Calls
With a set of good discovery call questions, your sales reps can make your pipeline cleaner and more likely to close, by separating the wheat from the chaff.
However, having a solid set of sales discovery call questions is only half of the equation.
The other half? Making sure reps ask those questions competently, and actually uncover the information.
This involves an active coaching effort on the part of your company:
- Training reps on how to ask these questions
- Engaging in roleplay so they can practice asking them in a low-stakes environment
- Reviewing call recordings to gauge their performance
- Regularly reviewing their performance to see if this has improved their KPIs
When you combine good sales discovery call questions with a solid coaching program, your pipeline & bottom line will improve as a result.
Whether you’re starting a coaching program from the ground up, or want to firm up your current efforts, our Sales Coaching Success Kit can help. Click here to access the FREE kit.