How to Prepare for a Sales Discovery Call (& get the most out of it)

by Matan Mostov
August 31, 2023
Demo Skills
Sales Management
Demo Best Practices
Discovery Best Practices
Guided Selling
Sales Effectiveness

Discovery skills are the first ingredient in a powerful set of sales intelligence needed to master a demonstration. The success of your Discovery dictates the outcome of your demo and closing deals.

How to Prepare for a Sales Discovery Call (& get the most out of it)

Discovery calls are not just a stage in the demo preparation process. Mastering this continuous cycle and responding to the needs of re-validation, not only during the call but throughout the entire sales process, is something that even some talented sales experts have missed. The top performers know to always include discovery in any part of their sales interactions, what strategies to use, and when. To them, discovery is an ongoing process, not a single event or checklist item. 

Demoleap's Tips for discovery call preparation:

  1. Understand your Buyers Journey    

Begin to understand the Buyer’s journey by identifying where they are, what they are thinking and needing in these stages, and how to align your strategy to the specific stage that your prospect is in. The buyer's journey dictates discovery strategy. To master the discovery process first, you need to master the buyer’s journey.  According to Hubspot, “…sales reps must adapt their mindset from selling to helping. And the best way to start this process is becoming intimately familiar with who the buyer is and the journey they take on their path to purchase: The buyer's journey.”  

The Buyer’s Journey can be understood in Stages. 

  • Awareness Stage: The buyer becomes aware that they have a problem.
  • Consideration Stage: The buyer defines their problem and considers options to solve it.
  • Decision Stage: The buyer evaluates and decides on the right provider to administer the solution.

In the Awareness Stage, prospects understand the challenges they face and want to solve. They decide which issues or goals are a priority for their team.  “The buyer is experiencing a problem or symptoms of a pain, and their goal is to alleviate it. They may be looking for informational resources to more clearly understand, frame, and give a name to their problem.”  ​​Ask your prospect questions such as: “How do you decide whether the goal or challenge should be prioritized?” It is important to see your role as a helper and provide resources for the buyer to solve their problem. 

For the Consideration Stage, the prospect understands their company's issues and has pinpointed the problem. They have put in the time to research different methods, approaches, and platforms to find a solution to the issue they face.  Show the buyer what is available to solve their problem. Show them how your product solves their problem compared to competitors. Keep a mindset of helping and not selling. Ask questions that provide value to your prospect. 

In the Decision Stage, the prospect has evaluated options and solutions and has decided on an approach. This is the buyer's journey step when your prospect has reviewed the competition and made a final decision.  Did you close the deal, or did they gain more insight for solutions from a competitor? 

In this stage, ask your prospect questions relevant to where they are in the buyer's journey, ensuring you close the deal but also providing valuable information that increases buyer confidence in the final decision. 

  1. Research your Prospects 

Sales reps run into trouble when they try to go into a call totally cold. The modern buyer doesn't have the patience to address basic questions with answers that anyone can find through a cursory search — nor do they have the time to fill you in on their challenges.” That’s the whole point of the discovery.” If you can tell your prospect information and share stories that show you have an even better understanding of their issues than they would have expected, that you have done your research and solved issues like theirs before, they will assume your SaaS software also has the solution to their problem.

  1. Inbound versus Outbound 

Inbound is when a prospect reaches out to you with an issue, and they have already done research on what they are looking for to solve the issue. For a successful Inbound Discovery  connect to your buyer's vision. Inbound prospects have already diagnosed their own issues and are looking at you for solutions as well as other competitors. First, ask questions about their buyer’s vision, then go back to the cause and diagnosis. 

Outbound is when the prospect first finds motivation for change and is looking for you to come up with solutions. With Outbound Discovery Strategies, it is as though you are starting from scratch. Start with talking about what issues they are facing, which is the opposite of Inbound Discovery, where you start with discussing vision. Use intelligent, educational narrative storytelling to discuss the opportunity your SaaS sales software solves for them.  This will intrigue your client and get them talking, creating a rich discovery exchange. 

  1. Keep a healthy Talk-Listen Ratio. 

In Discovery, it is important to let the customer do the talking and maintain a refined talk-listen ratio throughout the call. Here are a few tips to keep a healthy balance, so you do not miss the mark during your demo: 

  • Start with a Discovery call prompter. If you begin the call jumping into problem-solving, without setting the stage with a problem-to-opportunity narrative, then your prospect will be less likely to share with you all of their companies' problems. When you ask a question that “nails their problem on the head,” they will emotionally lean forward and open up. 
  • Set the tone with story-telling and educational information, show that you have done your research, and then let them talk. 
  • Pause a few seconds more than what feels natural. And often, that extra information they share with me is pure gold.
  • Keep customer stories short, around 3-5 minutes, to help your prospect resonate with your demonstration — showing them that another customer had a similar issue to them and your team solved it.  This is when you ask them to share their biggest challenges they have faced.

If you want to significantly improve the quality of your discovery and sales conversations to increase your win rates, the talk vs listening ratio is one of the most important things to consider. Gong insights show that top-producing B2B sales professionals speak 43% of the time (on average), allowing the prospect to speak 57% of the time (on average).

  1. Keep an Agenda / have a Script

Before starting your call, reference a script and speak to your prospect about what you will go over in the meeting. For example, “I plan on exploring your business and then showing a product demo. Are there any items you would like to add or remove from the agenda?” Or “I would like to get your thoughts on what you would like to discuss in our call and go over what I have planned for our time frame. Is this alright with you?”

Which questions you ask are important. It is very common for sellers to go into a Discovery Call without any prior knowledge. Due to this lack of research, the questions come off as misguided and unexpected to your prospect. This can create confusion and disorganization for your buyer, which does not help close deals. It is vital to begin by setting the tone by breaking down the agenda and timeline of the call, as well as what will be covered. The approach helps keep the conversation on track and manages client expectations.  

Remember to listen and stick to the script. Preparing and relying on a script is important to create a guiding blueprint for a successful call. Here is a great example of a script within the agenda for your Discovery Call, as explained by SalesHacker: “The purpose of this conversation, Mr. Prospect, is for me to learn more about your situation and how we may be able to help. If you think it’s worth your time at the end of the call to continue the discussion, a typical next step would be for me to schedule some more time with you to provide a demo of our solution. Does that sound good to you?” 

  1. Ask informed Questions 

Every company has key questions that if you hit those marks, you will corner the market, set your team apart from competitors and close more deals. 
“In transactional sales processes, where orders are relatively small and cycle time is rapid, doing Discovery can be challenging – but is still critical!
You have limited time to gather sufficient information to enable you to propose a good solution for your prospect – and similarly, time is short to ask enough questions so that your prospect feels that you have done enough diagnosis.”  Peter Cohen from “Great Demo” Suggests asking open-ended questions that are nonbinary.  Such as, “Tell me, what makes your organization unique?  Are there any cultural or other attributes that differentiate you from others in your space?”

The answer to this question can feed into your diagnosis, as well. You can reflect this information in your description of your offering later in the conversation.

Peter also suggests that this type of discovery question can be perceived as unique and a great way to outflank your competition if your competitor has limited their Discovery conversation to a traditional brief extent, such as BANT questions. 

Act like the expert you are and ask questions that reflect this intelligence and skill. A detailed question that shows your understanding of their business and needs that is open-ended naturally progresses the conversation. Come prepared with a list of thoughtful and researched questions or suggestions to reference during your Discovery call. 

More of Demoleap's Do’s and Don’ts for Discovery Call: 

  • Do your research 
  • Do build trust and longevity with prospects 
  • Do be authentic 
  • Do ask informed questions 
  • Don't dominate the conversation 
  • Don’t push the sale, be informative 
  • Don’t ask multiple questions at once
  • Don’t lose sight of customer goals  

There are many aspects that make a great Discovery call — and the success of these meetings is measured by getting the prospect in agreement to continue the discussion. When a client shows a willingness to learn more, then you are on your way to set up a winning demo.  The conversion ratio from a good Discovery Call to a resonating Live Demo to a Won Deal is vital to the success of your sales workforce and should continuously be examined, measured, and developed. 

To keep your team ahead of the curve, check out our SaaS Sales Training Tips for a Winning Demo for more information.

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