What discovery questions should you ask on a sales call?

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Kristin Kulpinski

Since discovery calls happen at the start of the sales process, they set the tone and direction for the rest of your deal. The questions you ask during a discovery call can help you understand your prospect, build rapport, and uncover if they’re a good fit for your product or services.

By asking the right discovery questions, you can quickly identify the buyer's pain points, highlight the product features they will find most valuable, and shorten the sales cycle length.

In this blog, we’ll be discussing discovery questions, how they help the sales process, and the best questions to move a qualified prospect further down the funnel.

What is a sales discovery call?

A discovery call is usually the first call in the sales process. After making contact with a prospect who has shown interest, sales professionals book them for a discovery call.

According to a Chrous report, 32% of cold calls turn into discovery calls, and only 19% become won deals. With limited time and a low margin for error, sales teams need to get discovery calls down to a science to maximize their chances of success. Having a solid framework for discovery calls that includes all the relevant discovery questions can prevent salespeople from losing winnable deals or wasting time on a prospect that will never buy.

What are discovery call questions?

Discovery call questions are open-ended questions designed to help you figure out a prospect’s business problem, who's involved in the sales process and what they care about.

According to data from Sales Insight Labs, 50% of all prospects aren’t a good fit for your product or service. Prospect qualification and discovery calls are therefore crucial.

It's best to avoid yes/no questions to get as much information out of a prospect as possible without turning the conversation into an interrogation. However, these questions do not need to be all crammed into one call. You can include discovery questions in discussions throughout the initial stages of the sales process. Savvy sales reps will also use these questions to demonstrate product value and adapt their sales pitch to a particular buyer.

Check out this blog to uncover the secret strategies used by top sales engineers.

12 best sales discovery questions that help you close more deals

Research by Gong shows asking between 11-14 questions has the highest chance of success. It’s important to note that the number of questions also depends on who the buyer is. C-suite execs, for instance, may not have the patience to answer many questions.

Here is a compilation of our 12 best discovery questions, divided according to the stages of the sales discovery process:

Discovery questions that establish situational context

Hopefully, you’ve done your customer research before this point. Here’s your chance to validate that information and gain further insight.

1. Tell me about the business and your role within the company

Start with a question that is easy for the prospect to answer. But before you do, always state what you already know to show that you have also done your due diligence.

2. What metrics are you responsible for?

Ask this question if your prospect didn’t include this information in the previous question. Knowing the metrics they are personally responsible for gives you an idea of how they measure success and enables you to demonstrate your product's value quantitatively.

3. What nonmeasurable results do you hope to achieve?

Apart from metrics, what other business outcomes is the prospect hoping to achieve by purchasing your product or service? Non-measurable results can include improved brand perception or better customer relations.

Discovery questions to identify pain points and qualify a prospect

Buyers are only looking at your product because they need to solve a business problem. By determining their pain points and understanding the urgency of their situation, you can qualify prospects and pitch your product as the ideal solution. Further down the sales process, you can also use this information to tailor product demos that resonate with prospective clients.


4. What problems are you trying to solve?

By asking this question, you give prospects a chance to discuss the biggest challenge they are currently facing and why they are looking for solutions. This question may seem blunt, but if you can use it to show them how you can help, it’s an effective way to earn their business.


5. How are you currently dealing with this problem?

The prospect likely already has some sort of workflow or process to deal with their problem. This question is your chance to compare your product to their existing solution and position it as the superior remedy.


6. Is solving this challenge a top priority for your company?

By asking this question, you can determine if the prospect is motivated enough to solve their pain points and if they are likely to purchase a solution.

Discovery questions that create compelling value for your product

Use these questions to help prospects envision how much easier or simpler their work will be thanks to your product. This technique can often be more effective than any sales pitch.


7. If this problem isn’t solved, how would that affect your business?

By asking this question, you get the prospect to think deeply about the roadblocks they are facing currently or are likely to face down the road. Additionally, it motivates them to overcome these challenges and prevent negative impacts on the business.


8. How much money could you save by implementing a solution?

Use this question to put a dollar value on their pain points and show the buyer how your solution's value far outweighs the cost.


9. What would a successful solution mean for the metrics you are personally responsible for?

Ah, self-interest. Improving key performance indicators (KPIs) and other metrics makes prospects and their teams look good internally. This question becomes worth asking if the prospect has to champion your product or solution to other stakeholders later during the buying process.

Discovery questions that move the prospect toward a product demo

Product demos and sales presentations are pivotal moments in the buyer’s journey. They let prospects see precisely how your solution can be tailored to their particular use case. Use the following questions to move the prospect out of the discovery phase and further down the sales funnel.


10. Who else will be involved in choosing a solution?

B2B buying groups almost always involve several people from different departments. It is crucial to understand whether the person you’re talking to is a gatekeeper, decision-maker, or an influencer. This question also lets you know about the other stakeholders in the decision-making process that you might need to convince.


11. What is the process for actually purchasing this solution?

Are there any legal or procurement considerations that need to be satisfied before making a purchase decision? Only ask this question after establishing a high level of trust with the buyer and if you’re confident that the deal might close.


12. Can we set a date for the demo and a follow-up call?

Setting deadlines and frequent follow-ups can be the difference between average and top sales performers. You can also measure the success of your discovery call by the prospect’s willingness to plan the next steps.

Moving beyond the discovery phase with Demostack

Use the discovery questions to dig deeper and learn what product features the prospect cares about most or are likely to be most helpful to their problem. With this knowledge and the help of Demostack platform, effortlessly create personalized demo environments for each client that reflect a blueprint of how they are likely to use your product.

Equip your champions with buyer enablement content, such as leave-behind sandboxes, which they can share with the rest of their buying group and make an informed purchase decision. You can even track demo success metrics within the Demostack platform to gauge prospect interest, optimize sales techniques, and improve close rates.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should you not do in a discovery call?

During a discovery call, you should never:

  • Assume you know everything about the prospect’s problems instead of asking questions.
  • Come across as pushy or aggressive.
  • Talk more than you listen.
  • Try to "wing it" instead of having a plan.

How do you build rapport on a discovery call?

You build rapport by:

  • Keeping the conversation about the prospect.
  • Asking meaningful questions and showing genuine interest.
  • Personalizing their experience and demonstrating that you have a good understanding of their pain points.

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