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30 Great Sales Discovery Questions To Ask Prospects in 2023

Ajay Jay
January 31, 2024
5 min read

If you've ever wondered, "Is sales discovery really that crucial?" then you're in the right place.

According to a study by sales strategist Marc Wayshak, an eye-opening 50% of prospects may not be a perfect fit for your product or service. That's a huge number! So, the time you spend on sales discovery? It's definitely not wasted.

As Zig Ziglar says, "Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust." It's through effective sales discovery that we can understand and start to overcome these obstacles.

Stick around as we delve into the nuances of sales discovery and understand how it can make or break your sales strategy.

What is a Discovery Call?

Simply put, a discovery call is a conversation between a sales representative and a prospective client, an initial discussion aimed at uncovering the prospect's needs, challenges, and goals. It's that initial "get to know you" phase where the sales representative gathers critical information to determine if their product or service can benefit the prospect.

The discovery call is your detective tool. It's the method by which you gather clues about your prospect's pain points and, more importantly, their aspirations.

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Why are Discovery Calls Important?

The primary reason is that they help bridge the gap between a product or service and the prospect's needs. Like a compass, they guide the sales process, ensuring that you're not just selling a product, but providing a solution. Not to mention, it helps foster trust, creating a sense of mutual respect and understanding between the salesperson and the prospect.

If you don't understand the customer, you can't sell to the customer. Discovery calls are about understanding before selling.

Imagine you're a detective, hot on the trail of your next big case. Your task is to solve a prospect's problem, but you need more information. You have to ask the right questions, gather clues, and piece together the puzzle. That's exactly what a discovery call is like.

Let's take a hypothetical example of a salesperson named Alex, working at an innovative tech startup. Alex has scheduled a discovery call with Sarah, the Head of IT at a growing firm, who has shown interest in Alex's company's cybersecurity solutions.

Sarah's company has been facing an increase in phishing attempts and malware attacks. Sarah is not just looking for a product but a comprehensive solution. During the call, Alex doesn't immediately start selling his company's software. Instead, he tries to understand Sarah's situation better by asking thoughtful, in-depth questions.

1. "What are the biggest challenges your team is currently facing with cybersecurity?"

2. "How have you addressed these issues so far, and why are you looking for a new solution now?"

3. "What features or capabilities are most important to you in a cybersecurity solution?"

Alex's questions dig into the heart of Sarah's issues, and importantly, they're open-ended. They prompt Sarah to share more about her situation, providing Alex with valuable insight. By the end of the call, Alex has enough information to offer a solution tailored to Sarah's needs.

In this way, the discovery call sets the stage for a customer-centric sales approach. It's not about pushing a product, but about solving a problem — a critical mindset that can make all the difference in today's competitive business landscape.

Discovery Questions

In sales, asking the right questions is the key to understanding your prospects. These questions aim to uncover the prospect's situation, their needs, and their vision for a solution. They can be broken down into two categories: Questions that set the discovery stage and questions that qualify.

Questions That Set the Stage

Questions That Set the Stage

These questions aim to get a general understanding of the prospect's role, their company, and their daily responsibilities. This information helps you tailor your approach to the unique context of each prospect. Below are a few examples:

1. "Can you tell me about your role and your day-to-day responsibilities within the company?"

2. "How does your role contribute to the overall goals of your department or company?"

3. "Can you walk me through the key result areas (KRAs) and key performance indicators (KPIs) tied to your role?"

4. "What's your company's mission, and how does your department contribute to it?"

By getting a firm understanding of their role, you can better understand their potential pain points and align your solution with their objectives.

Questions That Qualify

Questions That Qualify

These are the questions that help you dig deeper into the specific problem your prospect is facing, why they're looking for a solution now, and what they hope to achieve by implementing a new solution. Here are a few such questions:

5. "Can you share some of your primary goals — financial, customer-related, or operational — that you are striving to achieve this year?"

6. "What is the deadline you've set for achieving these goals?"

7. "Could you elaborate on the specific problem or challenge you are trying to resolve?"

8. "Have you faced any specific difficulties or challenges in [area as it relates to the product]?"

9. "Could you help me understand the root cause of this problem?"

10. "Why is addressing this problem a priority for you now?"

11. "Why hasn't this issue been addressed before now?"

12. "In your opinion, what could be a potential solution to this problem? Why do you think this might work?"

13. "How would you define a successful outcome or solution to this problem?"

14. "If you didn't choose our product or service, do you have an alternative plan in place to address this problem?"

Through these questions, you're not only gaining a deeper understanding of the potential client's problem, but you're also positioning yourself as a consultative partner — someone who's there to help them find the ideal solution, not just sell a product. Remember, the more insight you gain, the better you can tailor your offering to meet the potential customer's needs.

Questions Related to Product Gaps

Questions Related to Product Gaps

These questions aim to uncover potential gaps in the potential prospect's current solutions and identify opportunities where your product or service could fill those gaps.

15. "What features or functionality are you currently missing that you believe would make a difference in achieving your goals?"

16. "Are there any specific capabilities you wish your current solution had?"

17. "How does your team currently work around the limitations of your current solution?"

18. "If you could wave a magic wand and improve one thing about your current solution, what would it be?"

Understand these gaps with PreSkale's Product Gap Manager and tailor your offering and highlight your product's unique value propositions.

Questions That Disqualify

Questions That Disqualify

These questions help identify any potential roadblocks in the buying process. They can range from budgetary constraints, implementation timelines, to features and functionality requirements that your product may not support.

19. "What's the budget you've allocated for this solution?"

20. "Who else needs to be involved in the decision-making process?"

21. "Do you have a specific time frame in mind for implementing a new solution?"

22. "Are there any must-have features or functionalities for the solution you choose?"

Asking these questions early on can help you decide whether the potential buyer is a good fit and how you should approach the conversation.

Questions That Establish the Next Steps

Questions That Establish the Next Steps

These questions help guide the prospect to the next steps in the buying journey, ensure you are on the same page, and pave the way for follow-up actions.

23. "Who else from your organization should be involved in this conversation?"

24. "What are the key criteria you're considering when choosing a solution?"

25. "Have you worked with a competitor of ours before? If so, what were the drawbacks?"

26. "Are you currently evaluating other solutions? If so, could you share what you've liked about them so far?"

27. "Could you describe your procurement process? Are there any specific milestones or sign-offs needed?"

28. "Are there any concerns or questions you have that we haven't yet addressed?"

29. "What information or resources could help make your purchase decision easier and faster?"

30. "Assuming we implement our solution, what changes or improvements do you expect to see? When is a good time to follow up on this discussion?"

By having a clear understanding of the next steps, you can ensure that the current process is progressing, and the prospect feels guided and supported throughout their buying journey. Remember, the discovery call is the foundation of the sales process. It sets the tone for all future interactions and can significantly impact the likelihood of a successful sale.

Sales Discovery Process

Navigating a discovery call can feel like venturing into uncharted waters. To help guide your way, here's a structured, step-by-step sales discovery process that will help you gather essential information, tailor your offering, and, ultimately, close the deal.

Analyze the Prospect and Their Company

This is your homework phase, where you delve into the prospect's and their company's background. Look at their role, the company's industry, size, and any recent news or updates. Having this context allows you to better understand their potential needs and challenges.

Find the Customer

This step involves identifying the right person or people to talk to. In B2B sales, this might be a decision-maker, an influencer, or an end-user. Understanding who you're speaking with can help you tailor your approach and ensure your message reaches the right ears.

Split Your Questions into 4 Sections: Staging, Qualifying, Disqualifying, and Next Steps

By structuring your questions, you ensure that you're getting a comprehensive view of the prospect's situation. As we've discussed earlier, these four categories of questions enable you to learn about the prospect's role and company, understand their needs and challenges, identify any potential roadblocks, and establish a clear path forward.

Provide Relevant Information

Based on the answers you receive during the discovery call, provide relevant information about your product or service. Explain how your solution addresses the prospect's pain points, fills their product gaps, and helps achieve their goals. Remember to focus on benefits, not just features.

Collect Relevant Product Feedback

While the discovery call is primarily for you to learn about the prospect, it's also an opportunity for them to provide feedback on your product or service. Ask questions like, "How do you feel about the solutions we've discussed?" or "Is there something you wish our product could do?" This feedback can be invaluable for refining your offering and sales approach.

Connect Your Solution to the Prospect's Goals

Finally, clearly articulate how your solution ties back to the prospect's goals. Remember, the ultimate aim is to show the prospect that your solution isn't just a product, but a tool to help them succeed. If you can create this connection, you'll be well on your way to establishing a productive and profitable relationship.

Keep in mind, every discovery call is unique, just like every prospect. Be flexible, listen attentively, and adapt to the conversation as it unfolds. After all, the goal is not to follow a script, but to discover how you can best serve your prospect.

How to Run a Discovery Call

Running an effective discovery call is like conducting a symphony. You need to set the rhythm, create a harmony of conversation, and keep your audience engaged. Here's a step-by-step guide to conducting a successful discovery call:

Prepare Well in Advance

Prior to the call, research your prospect and their company thoroughly. Understanding the prospect’s role, the company's industry, and current trends will help you tailor your discussion and show the prospect that you've done your homework.

Start with a Strong Opening

Begin the sales call by thanking the prospect for their time. Provide a brief overview of what you aim to achieve in the call, setting the right expectations from the start.

Ask Your Discovery Questions

Utilize the four categories of questions we've discussed: staging, qualifying, disqualifying, and next steps. This structure ensures a comprehensive understanding of the prospect's needs, challenges, and goals.

Listen Actively and Empathize

Active listening is crucial. Acknowledge the prospect's responses, show understanding, and empathize with their situation. This builds rapport and trust.

"Most people think 'selling' is the same as 'talking.' But the most effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of their job." - Roy Bartell, Sales Expert.

Recap and Confirm Understanding

Summarize key points discussed during the call to ensure you have a correct understanding. This also gives the prospect a chance to add or correct anything.

Provide Relevant Information

Share insights about your product or service, focusing on how it can address their specific needs and challenges. Remember, it's about the prospect's goals, not just your product.

Discuss Next Steps

Before ending the call, ensure both parties are clear about the next steps. Whether it's another meeting, a product demo, or a follow-up email, defining what happens next keeps the sales cycle moving forward.

Record and Analyze the Call

Document the call's details, and analyze it to identify areas of strength and improvement. Use this analysis to refine your approach for future calls.

Optimize Your Sales Discovery Process: Use PreSkale

PreSkale’s Product Gap Manager, aids in keeping everyone on the same page, minimizing potential communication issues among team members. It helps to identify and understand the gaps between your product offerings and customer needs more effectively, enabling your sales team to tailor the sales message precisely.

Moreover, PreSkale’s Evaluation offers you a macroscopic view of the customer's journey from evaluation to purchase or loss is vital in sales discovery. It helps you pinpoint the crucial touchpoints and understand how prospects are interacting with your product or service, leading to more informed strategic decisions.

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