Discovery calls are supposed to help sales pros learn more about their prospects so they can provide relevant insights that guide the buying process. The final goal is to deliver the ideal solution to buyers’ most pressing pain points.
For a successful sales discovery process, you need to ask the right questions. We’ve put together a list of sales discovery questions and organized them into different groups, depending on the goals they support and when to ask them.
Keep in mind that this list shouldn't be used as a script. Rather, it’s designed to help you figure out what to ask your prospects at key moments in their journey.
Early on, you’re trying to understand the prospect’s current situation.
Here, you’ll want to focus on asking questions about the buyer’s work environment, the processes and solutions they use, and what kinds of problems and challenges they’re dealing with at the moment.
Questions you might ask:
- Tell me about your company.
- What does your day-to-day look like?
- What is your work environment like?
- What metrics or KPIs are you responsible for?
- What is your current process for dealing with X?
- What solution are you using to address that problem?
- What’s working or not working with your current solution?
- What’s the biggest challenge you face with X solution?
Qualification questions help you determine whether the prospect is a good fit for your solution. Here, you’re trying to assess their goals, priorities, and whether there’s room in the budget for your solution.
Questions you might ask:
- What are your goals?
- What’s your timeline for achieving those goals?
- What problem are you trying to solve?
- Are you experiencing problems related to X or Y (these are problems your solution addresses)?
- What is the source of the problem?
- Do you have room in your budget for this investment?
- How much can you spend on solving this problem?
- Where does the budget for solving this problem come from?
Note that you’re not just trying to identify pain points; you’re trying to understand more about the impact that the pain creates.
Questions you might ask:
- How satisfied are you with your existing solution?
- What happens if you don’t solve X problem?
- How much money are you losing to X problem?
- What opportunities have you missed out on?
- How does that impact your team?
- How does it impact you personally?
- What roadblocks do you believe are preventing you from achieving critical goals?
- If X or Y happens, do you have a plan for dealing with the problem?
Follow-up questions provide you with a better understanding of the customer’s commitment to change. Are they willing to take action, and if so, how soon? Essentially, it’s about getting an idea of the timeline and how quickly you can expect the deal to close.
Questions you might ask:
- What kind of results do you expect to see from a new solution?
- When do you expect to see those results?
- Is this currently a priority for you? Why or why not?
- Have you defined the criteria for selecting a vendor?
- What other solutions are you considering?
- Does our solution completely address X challenge?
- If not, what’s missing?
- What would make this process easier? Is there anything I can do to help?
Finally, you’ll want to guide buyers toward taking the next step. Aim to gather a few more details that can help inform how you’ll proceed with working this deal (such as what the decision-making process looks like), then end by making a recommendation.
Questions you might ask:
- How do you make a decision?
- Who else should be involved in this decision?
- Who should be invited to the demo?
- Who else will this change impact?
- If I can help you do X, what would we need to do to make a deal happen?
Best practices to prepare before a sales discovery call
Now that we’ve gone over the types of questions you might ask during a discovery call, let’s go over a few best practices for running a great discovery call.
1. Do your research
Questions should be informed by research. You’re wasting everyone’s time when you ask questions that could easily be answered by a simple Google search.
As an example, before your initial information-gathering session, you’ll want to do some basic research to find out more about the prospect's company size, annual revenue, product offerings, and so on.
You might use that information to come up with questions that help you gain a deeper understanding of how things work internally and what unique challenges the buyer and their team are facing.
2. Set an agenda
Sales reps often skip this step because they wrongfully assume they can wing it by shooting off a series of questions.
But, setting an agenda is critical to any sales meeting — especially discovery calls.
Discovery calls set the stage for the entire sales process. If you’re not careful, a bad discovery call can derail the deal before it even gets started.
Make sure you send your prospect an agenda that lays out the key points you’d like to cover. This gives them a chance to bring up any additional topics they’d like to discuss or share some background information you might use to inform the direction of the conversation.
3. Listen more than you talk
Top reps listen more than they speak.
Discovery calls are a two-way conversation. When you ask a question, it’s important to listen to that response and validate the pain points, goals, and roadblocks buyers bring up.
Now, this is basic conversational etiquette that you’re probably used to practicing when chatting with colleagues, friends, and family. You want prospects to get the sense that you actually care about the needs and challenges they’re dealing with.
It’s just that often reps get nervous before meeting with a potential customer. Or, in some cases, they’re too focused on hitting every item on a checklist instead of embracing the humanity of the situation.
You’ll want to keep things open-ended and avoid asking yes or no questions. This inadvertently leads to reps talking more than the buyer and limits the amount of information you’ll get from them during the call.
Leave some space for the conversation to change directions. You don’t have to use every question on your list. As long as you’re capturing good information why not see where things go?
4. Keep asking questions until you get to the root of the problem
This tip builds on our last point, in that you're trying to avoid running through your discovery questions like items on a list.
Close CRM's Steli Efti explains how this approach can come back to haunt you in this video. He says asking questions like “How many people are using this solution?” or “What features are you looking for?” and then answering with an “Okay, cool.” or “Great, we have that” creates a bad dynamic.
First, it makes the buyer feel like you don’t care — like you’re trying to get through the questions so you can go have lunch. It also doesn’t give you anything to work with if that poor first impression derails the deal.
Instead, your goal is to get at the heart of the problem — the root cause — and truly gain an understanding of the impact it has on the customer and their business.
By digging deeper and discovering more about the buyer’s personal and professional motivations, you’ll have more data points you can use to move deals forward faster while also nurturing stronger relationships along the way.
5. Look for opportunities to add value during conversations
During the call, you’ll want to listen for opportunities to demonstrate why you’re the right person to help the prospect solve their problem.
That might mean relating a concern or pain point they’ve shared to another customer you’ve helped, weighing in with market or industry insights, or throwing out relevant solutions when appropriate.
6. Define next steps
Here, you’re trying to convince the buyer to commit to a logical next step.
That might mean booking a demo, setting up a call with additional stakeholders, or doing something else. The key thing is that the next step needs to make sense in the context of where the prospect is in the buyer's journey.
7. Record your discovery calls
Finally, it’s a good idea to record your discovery conversations so that you can focus on having a conversation rather than scrambling to take notes. If you’re too busy jotting down notes, you miss the opportunity to connect with prospects on a human level.
Rather than using your smartphone or landline, it’s a good idea to use video conferencing tools like Zoom or Google Meet. That way, you can analyze the buyer’s reactions to your questions.
Ultimately, it gives you another set of data points that can help you understand where buyers are coming from. Additionally, discovery call recordings can be used in training sessions to showcase best practices in action.
Streamline sales discovery with Weflow
Weflow's note-taking and note templates features allow you to streamline sales discovery as well as ensure your sales team adheres to it. Sales managers can create custom note templates with Weflow, and then assign them to different team members or sales teams for use.
Here's how to create a sales discovery note template in Weflow that your team can reuse with prospects:
Log in to Weflow and navigate to the Notes section. From here, click the Use template button in the upper right corner of the screen.
Click the +New template button in the window that pops up.
Now, enter a name for your note template (e.g., Sales discovery) and fill out the note section with steps you'd like reps to take and the questions you'd like them to ask each prospect (see the questions we outlined in this guide).
Once you're done, click on Use template.
Asking the right sales discovery call questions is crucial for building trust, qualifying prospects, and presenting relevant solutions that help close more deals.
But it’s important to remember that discovery calls are two-way conversations. Reps need to listen to buyers and add value where it makes sense.