How to Run a Successful Discovery Sales Call - A Comprehensive Guide

Discovery Best Practices
Guided Selling
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Wouldn't it be nice if you could only make closing calls and skip all those tough stages in between? Unfortunately, picking up the phone and making that very first call is probably the most important part of the sales process and without it crossing the finish line is simply not possible. This very important initial sales conversation is called a sales discovery call.

How to Run a Successful Discovery Sales Call - A Comprehensive Guide

Wouldn't it be nice if you could only make closing calls and skip all those tough stages in between? Unfortunately, picking up the phone and making that very first call is probably the most important part of the sales process and without it crossing the finish line is simply not possible.

This very important initial sales conversation is called a sales discovery call.

What is a Sales Discovery Call?

A discovery call is the very first contact a sales rep makes once a buyer shows interest in their product or service.

The goal of a discovery call is, well, to discover. Discover who the buyer is and what are their pain points, goals, challenges, and priorities. 

To do that, reps need to ask a series of questions, which will also allow them to qualify the prospect and determine whether or not they are a good fit for their product or service. 

Why is a discovery call so important?

If, during the discovery call, the rep determines the buyer is a good fit, their goal will be to move them through the sales process. So basically, this call is a golden opportunity to start developing rapport and building a relationship with the prospect. 

Later in the sales process, the information you gathered during the discovery call will serve you well because it will allow you to tailor your pitch and explain exactly how your product or service can solve the prospect’s specific pain point. The better you understand your prospect, the easier it will be to close the sale.

Seeing as a discovery call can save prospects a lot of time, if you do it right and know how to run a discovery call, you’ll find most buyers don’t mind talking to salespeople to provide relevant details. 

But that’s not all. Here are other benefits of a good discovery call.

1. Give a preview of your product or service

After the call, the buyer will have a good understanding of what your product and company are all about. 

While your main focus is to ask the prospect questions, chances are they will also have some questions about your company and solution, so make sure you’re armed with extensive knowledge about your product.

2. Show them you care

When you ask the right discovery sales questions, you also show the prospect you care about their needs and problems, that their success matters to you and that you aim to find the right solution for them and help them reach their goals.

This can be achieved by familiarizing yourself with your prospect’s business before you jump on the call (we’ll go deeper into this point later in the article). 

Another way to show your prospect you have their best interest at heart is to listen to them. Really listen. This is extremely important because buyers today are very savvy and can sense when you’re only interested in qualifying them. 

It’s no surprise, then, that, on average, top-performing reps talk 48% of the time in a discovery call and listen 52% of the time (source: Chorus).

3. Determine if you have a good chance of closing the deal

A discovery call allows you to qualify the prospect and determine what influence they have within their company, how willing they will be to champion your product and how they feel about competing solutions.

The Full Sales Discovery Process

Now that we’ve established just how crucial this first conversation with the prospect is, let’s look at what’s involved in a sales discovery process.

Normally, the process will look like this:

  • Researching the prospect
  • Scheduling a conversation
  • Asking qualifying questions
  • Answering the prospect’s questions
  • Offering solutions to the prospect’s problems
  • Moving the prospect through the sales process

Let’s dive deeper into each stage and go over some actual discovery questions for sales.

1. Researching and preparing

Before you call the buyer, prepare yourself and do whatever you can to learn about them and their business.

  • Research the company and the person you’ll be talking to. Collect some background information about the buyer and their organization, focusing mainly on details that can help inform the questions you could ask during the call.
  • Go over your buyer persona. Learn what your buyer needs, try to find out if they have any budgetary restrictions, and make sure you know which customer you’re looking for.
  • Prepare data, case studies, and statistics that are relevant to your buyer. Share it with them during the call to show them how your product can help them.

2. The first 5 minutes

The tone of your entire call will be set during the first few minutes of the conversation.

First, quickly go over the agenda so that your prospect knows what to expect and feels you respect their time.

Then, introduce yourself and your role, and your company. Be friendly, and feel free to use humor to break the ice and start building rapport.

Next, let them know what the purpose of the call is. You could say, “We are meeting today so that I can get to know your needs and goals. If we both feel your company and our product is a good fit, I’ll schedule a follow-up call”.

Your intro should be short. This is not the time for long, detailed explanations. 

3. Get to know the prospect

This is where the discovery call really kicks off. 

Start this stage by asking questions that will help you qualify your buyer

Although these are background questions, note that you shouldn’t be asking for information you can find online to show your buyer you put in the effort and researched them before the meeting.

You can learn about your prospect’s pain points, processes and goals by asking questions like:

  • Tell me about your role - what does your day-to-day look like? 

This is a good way to get the conversation rolling and get to know the person you’re talking to.

  • State what you know about their business and then ask what else they can tell you about their company.

Be careful, and don’t ask this question too early to avoid sounding like you didn’t bother preparing for the meeting. 

4. Qualify the prospect

Now that you know more about them, you can move on to identifying pain points, goals, budget, and needs. 

Ask questions that will help you fully understand their problems. This will help you offer them the right solution. 

Ask about their goals.

  • What goals are you trying to achieve at the moment? 

These can be financial, operational, or service related. You can also frame it within a timeline: what are your goals for the next months/years?

  • What are the main challenges to achieving your goals? 

You need to understand where they struggle so that you know how to frame the explanation about your product. 

  • What happens if you don’t reach your goals?

Remind them of the consequences of not having a product such as yours and highlight its value. 

Ask about their processes.

Find out how you can tailor your solution to their unique processes by asking questions like:

  • What is your process for X? (X being the area that relates to the product)
  • Why do you do it this way?
  • How much do you spend on doing X?

Ask about their authority, budget, and timeline.

  • How much budget do you have in place for a solution to your problem?

Find out if they can afford your product or service at the moment. 

  • Is there anyone else in your company who should be involved in this discussion?

You need to understand if you’re talking to a decision-maker or an influencer and what the company’s decision-making process looks like. 

  • What is your timeline for implementing the solution?

Understand whether their timeline and your product’s implementation timeline align to ensure you’re a good fit. 

Ask about their pain points and priorities

  • How satisfied are you with your current process?

Gain valuable insights into their operation.

  • What problems do you want to solve?

Allow them to tell you about any type of problems they may have to gain even more insights into their business. 

  • What is the source of your problems?

It’s not enough to know what the problem is; you also need to understand why it exists. Later on, this will allow you to customize your pitch. 

  • What made you decide to prioritize solving this problem now and not earlier?

Find out just how the issue evolved and how urgent it is to solve it now. This will also uncover the roadblocks to solving the problem.

Ask questions that will help you prepare for the next steps

Once you qualify the prospect, you need to prepare the ground for your sales demo

  • Have you tried to solve your problem with a similar product in the past?

The answer will help you present your product as a superior solution compared to the competition’s, even if the name of the competitors hasn’t been mentioned. 

  • Are you considering other solutions?

Be gentle with this question to avoid sounding petty, but try to find what other products the prospect is considering. 

  • Once you make a purchase decision, what will the process look like?

If you ask this question, it means you’ve established trust with your buyer, and you can feel comfortable asking about their purchase process without antagonizing them. 

  • Is there anything I can do to help make this process easier?

Give them the opportunity to tell you if there’s anything you can do to move things along. 

  • Can I follow up with you on [date]?

Finish the meeting by setting up your next call. 

What happens after a discovery call?

It’s good manners to send the buyer a follow-up email after the call, even if you determine they’re not a good fit. You never know what will happen in the future, and it’s always best to leave a good impression. 

In your email, you can confirm the following steps and mention your next meeting if you have already made arrangements to connect at a later date. 

Then, reiterate key points discussed during your call, invite the prospect to connect with you on LinkedIn, Twitter, or anywhere else that will help nurture a new relationship, and finally, thank them for their time. 

Finally, if you’ve had a successful discovery call, you need to work out what value you can offer the prospect once it's over. This will allow you to tailor your sales demo to their specific needs and issues. 



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