Nail your sales discovery process: questions and checklist

May 10, 2023
min read time
Iryna Koshelieva
Iryna Koshelieva
Senior Growth Marketer, Ring.io
Nail your sales discovery process: questions and checklist

Sales may be considered mostly a numbers game, but it’s also a speed game. More often than not, in a hurry to raise the number of closed deals, sales reps rush through the discovery phase of the sales process or even skip it altogether.

Huge mistake and possibly a missed sales opportunity.

Learning how to bring value to your potential customers is crucial, and the sales discovery call plays a vital role in achieving that. Your initial phone conversation with a prospect is a great opportunity to impress them. Make a strong first impression by preparing thoroughly for your discovery call.

What is a discovery call?

When a potential customer expresses interest in your product, the first discussion you have with them is called a discovery call. This is a chance for you to gain valuable insight and determine if they are a suitable match for your business.

When offering a product or service, it’s crucial to thoroughly evaluate your prospects. Studies indicate that up to 50% of potential customers may not be a suitable match, making proper vetting essential.

It’s important to understand the pain points and usage of your prospects before trying to pitch a product. Failing to do so is a common mistake made by rookie salespeople and can lead to negative consequences such as losing potential customers or receiving negative reviews.

What is the skeleton of a successful discovery call (checklist)?

Come prepared: research your prospect

  • Research your potential clients and their company using LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, other social media, their website, and industry review sites. It will prepare you for successful interactions.
  • Having a pre-call planning checklist is crucial to ensure that everything is well-prepared and on point.
  • AEs should conduct their own pre-call research even if the SDR has already qualified the lead. This helps gain a better understanding of the client’s challenges and prepares for the discovery process. It enables identifying business needs, key drivers, and ways to provide value.
  • Discover the company’s initiatives or priorities and align your worth with them.
  • Share your research findings with all internal stakeholders including Vice Presidents, Project Managers, and Support staff.
  • Review the organizational chart beforehand and ensure that you are able to confirm it during the call.

The little but important strokes in setting up the meeting

  • It would be wise to share the agenda with prospective clients and make sure it is included in the invitation.
  • Create an email reminder that will be sent automatically 24 hours before the scheduled event to confirm their attendance.
  • Share informative materials about yourself and your product before your call. This will optimize your time together and help clients understand your brand. Use short videos, articles, blog posts, and use cases.
  • It’s best to create a notes template that covers the agenda, current information, and areas that require further clarification.

Start of the call: first 5 minutes are setting the tone

  • Begin by reviewing your schedule promptly to show your prospect that you value their time.
  • Introduce yourself and share your company and your position within it. Feel free to add a touch of humor to help build a connection and ease any tension.
  • To ensure everyone is on the same page, it’s important to share the objectives of the meeting. An effective way to do this is by stating, “Our aim for this call is to get to know your company and goals. If we decide that there is a good match, we will arrange another meeting with my sales team to discuss the next steps.”
  • When introducing your brand to a prospect, keep it brief and to the point. As they are new to your company, they may not be ready for a lengthy explanation just yet.

Make sure it’s a two-way conversation to build rapport faster

  • To increase the chances of success, try engaging prospects in more conversational exchanges rather than relying on one-sided monologues. Encourage them to speak more and take an active role in the conversation. Study shows that top performers make 54% more conversation switchers.
  • It’s better to avoid asking closed-ended questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. For instance, instead of asking whether they are satisfied with their current CRM, ask them about the problems they are facing with it. It helps you identify their challenges and other decision-makers. Dig deeper to uncover their motivations, but avoid confusing or irrelevant questions.
  • Remember to seek confirmation or validation throughout the process, using their language.
  • Avoid sounding robotic when asking questions by following your call script to the letter. Instead, try to integrate them seamlessly into the conversation and leave room for open discussion. Your goal is to make your potential customer feel heard and valued, not like they’re being interrogated.
  • There’s no need to fear longer calls as they can actually lead to improved performance. Top performers typically have calls that last an average of 33.6 minutes, which is 76% longer than the average 19-minute discovery call of the rest of the team.
  • Refer to your agreement to assess progress and schedule the next meeting, including a demo, during your discussion.

After the call follow-up

  • Provide a summary of the significant and pertinent points covered, with a particular focus on pain, process, and timing, as well as the upcoming actions required.
  • Provide a detailed list of action items discussed during the call, including responsible parties and deadlines for each item.
  • For utmost accuracy, it is recommended to request their confirmation of the information through email.

10 strategic discovery questions

  1. Help us understand what you’re looking to solve for with a solution like xyz? Great, how does that affect you specifically? Why? The company? Who else does it affect? (Multithreading opportunity)
  2. What will happen to the business if the pain is not solved? How will that impact your champion directly? How will that impact be felt across revenue, cost, and risk?
  3. Why are we talking today and not last week or last month? What’s the onus to talk now?
  4. Curious, if this call goes exactly how you hope, what does that look like?
  5. If you didn’t choose a product, do you have a plan in place to address this problem?
  6. Where on your priority list does solving this problem land?
  7. What is your budget for achieving this goal?
  8. Who are the key people in the purchase process?
  9. Walk me through the current state of {the problem under study}?
  10. Can we schedule a follow-up call with one of our sales reps?

It is important to recognize that not all companies share the same goals and needs as yours. However, this is perfectly acceptable. The crucial factor is to identify this discrepancy as soon as possible to prevent wasting your time, as well as the lead’s time, in the future.

The discovery phase is crucial in determining the success or failure of deals. However, there is no need to feel pressured. If you have properly assessed your prospect, you should have a good idea if they are a suitable match. The objective of the discovery call is to delve into their challenges, procedures, and identify the key decision-makers. Additionally, it is important to understand if they are considering other options besides your offering.

There is a lot of important information to cover during a discovery call. Failing to do so could result in losing potential customers to other sales representatives, even if your product is superior. To ensure a successful discovery call, it’s important to be well-prepared, conduct the call effectively, and follow up accurately.


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