Master Discovery Call Questions: Speed Up Your Sales Cycle

Lidia Vijga

Table of Contents

Have you ever felt like you’re playing a guessing game during discovery calls with prospects? You ask superficial discovery call questions, get vague answers, and walk away without a clear direction for follow-up. The prospect seems enthusiastic but then ghosts you. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

The good news is that asking the right questions isn’t some magical talent only 1% of sales reps possess. It’s a learnable skill that anyone can master with the right framework.

In my decade in B2B sales, I’ve seen countless promising leads fizzle out after lackluster discovery calls. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

This guide will walk you through the art and science of crafting discovery call questions that dig deep into what matters most. You’ll learn proven techniques to qualify prospects faster, build trust quickly, and accelerate the sales cycle. With the right discovery call questions, you’ll gain the insights needed to convert more prospects into customers.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Prepare for the discovery call: Research your prospect’s business, role, and pain points before the call to ask relevant and targeted questions.
  • Build rapport: Start the call with a friendly introduction and find common ground to establish a genuine connection with the prospect.
  • Ask open-ended questions: Use open-ended questions to uncover the prospect’s pain points, current solution, and decision-making process.
  • Qualify the opportunity: Understand the prospect’s decision-making process, key players, timeline, and criteria to move the deal forward.
  • Uncover budget and time constraints: Ask about the prospect’s budget range, factors determining the budget, and their desired timeframe for implementing a solution.
  • Practice active listening: Listen intently to the prospect’s answers and take notes to demonstrate genuine interest and understanding of their situation.
  • Transition smoothly: Ensure the conversation flows naturally between topics and avoid abrupt shifts that may disrupt the rapport.
  • Follow up after the discovery call: Send a thank you message and recap of key points discussed during the call to demonstrate active listening and commitment to the prospect’s success.
  • Schedule next steps: Secure a follow-up meeting or call based on the needs uncovered during the discovery call to maintain sales momentum.
  • Review and improve: Record and review your discovery calls to evaluate your questioning technique, conversation flow, active listening, and needs identification to continuously refine your skills

What are discovery call questions in sales?

Discovery call questions help sales professionals dig deeper into the prospect’s pain points, budget, current solution, and decision-making process. They build trust, identify challenges, and offer valuable insights, increasing the chances of closing a deal. Asking the right questions is crucial for success in sales.

Discovery Call Questions List

Discovery calls are all about asking the right questions to uncover prospect needs. But not all discovery call questions are created equal. Certain types of discovery call questions are designed to achieve specific objectives crucial for accelerating the sales cycle. Below is the list of discovery call questions sales teams should have in their arsenal, along with some tips:

Discovery call question type Discovery call question Tips
Probing What are some of the biggest challenges your team is facing right now? Use this open-ended question to uncover core pain points and actively listen to the prospect's response. Take notes and use the information to tailor your solution to their specific needs.
Probing How do you measure overall success for your department? This strategic question helps you understand the prospect's key metrics and priorities. Use their response to demonstrate how your product or service can help them achieve their goals.
Probing Tell me about the day-to-day processes involved in executing your major initiatives. This tactical question uncovers on-the-ground challenges and nuances. Use the information to show how your solution can address both strategic gaps and tactical pain points.
Probing What makes keeping your current solution updated difficult? How does this impact your team's effectiveness? Use probing questions like this to dig deeper into the specifics of the prospect's pain points. This will help you identify their needs and position your solution as the perfect fit.
Probing What are the main obstacles preventing you from achieving your yearly goals? This question helps you uncover the prospect's specific pain points and challenges. Use their response to demonstrate how your product or service can help them overcome these obstacles.
Probing How does your current solution impact your team's day-to-day work? This question allows you to understand the prospect's current process and identify areas where your solution can add value. Use their response to showcase the benefits of your product or service.
Probing What are the key decision-making criteria for selecting a new solution? This question helps you understand the prospect's decision-making process and priorities. Use their response to tailor your sales pitch and highlight the features of your solution that align with their criteria.
Probing Can you tell me about a recent project or initiative where your current solution fell short? This question allows you to uncover specific pain points and challenges with the prospect's current solution. Use their response to demonstrate how your product or service can address these issues.
Probing What would be the ideal outcome for your team if you were to implement a new solution? This question helps you understand the prospect's desired outcomes and expectations. Use their response to position your solution as the best fit for achieving these goals.
Probing How do you envision our product or service fitting into your current workflow and processes? This question encourages the prospect to think about how your solution can integrate with their existing processes. Use their response to demonstrate the ease of implementation and the benefits of adopting your product or service.
Process question How does your team currently handle [specific task or process]? Use this question to understand the prospect's current process and identify areas where your solution can improve efficiency or effectiveness.
Process question Can you walk me through the steps involved in your [specific process]? This question helps you gain a comprehensive understanding of the prospect's workflow, allowing you to tailor your solution to their specific needs.
Process question What tools or systems do you currently use to manage [specific process]? Understanding the prospect's current tools and systems can help you identify potential integration points and demonstrate how your solution can complement or replace existing tools.
Process question How do you measure the success of your [specific process]? This question helps you understand the prospect's key performance indicators (KPIs) and goals, allowing you to demonstrate how your solution can help them achieve better results.
Process question What challenges or bottlenecks do you face in your current [specific process]? Use this question to uncover pain points and inefficiencies in the prospect's current process, which can help you position your solution as a way to address these issues.
Process question How do you ensure quality and consistency in your [specific process]? This question allows you to understand the prospect's quality control measures and identify areas where your solution can help improve quality and consistency.
Process question How do you handle changes or updates to your [specific process]? This question helps you understand how the prospect manages change and adaptability, allowing you to demonstrate how your solution can streamline updates and adjustments.
Process question How does your team collaborate and communicate during the [specific process]? Understanding the prospect's team dynamics and communication methods can help you demonstrate how your solution can facilitate better collaboration and communication.
Process question What are the most time-consuming aspects of your [specific process]? Use this question to identify areas where your solution can save the prospect time and resources, making their process more efficient.
Process question How do you train new team members on your [specific process]? This question allows you to understand the prospect's onboarding and training methods, helping you demonstrate how your solution can simplify and improve the training process.
Provoking question Have you considered the potential impact of not addressing [specific issue] on your business? Use this question to encourage the prospect to think about the consequences of not taking action, which can help them realize the urgency of finding a solution.
Provoking question What would happen if your current solution fails to meet your future needs or goals? This question pushes the prospect to consider the risks associated with sticking to their current solution, allowing you to position your product or service as a better alternative.
Provoking question How does your current process affect your team's productivity and overall performance? Encourage the prospect to think about the inefficiencies in their current process and how it impacts their team, which can help you demonstrate the value of your solution.
Provoking question Are you aware of any industry trends or changes that could impact your current solution's effectiveness? This question helps the prospect consider external factors that could affect their current solution, positioning your product or service as a more future-proof option.
Provoking question How does your current solution impact your ability to stay competitive in your market? Encourage the prospect to think about the competitive advantage they may be missing out on by not adopting a better solution, highlighting the benefits of your product or service.
Provoking question What would be the cost of inaction if you don't address [specific issue] in the near future? Use this question to help the prospect understand the potential financial implications of not taking action, emphasizing the value of your solution.
Provoking question How does your current solution align with your company's long-term goals and vision? This question pushes the prospect to consider whether their current solution is truly the best fit for their organization's future, allowing you to position your product or service as a better match.
Provoking question If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about your current solution, what would it be? Use this question to provoke the prospect to think about their ideal solution, which can help you tailor your offering to meet their specific needs.
Provoking question How do you think your customers or clients perceive your current solution? Encourage the prospect to consider the impact of their current solution on their customer relationships, highlighting the potential benefits of your product or service.
Provoking question What are the potential risks or challenges you foresee in implementing a new solution? This question helps the prospect think about potential roadblocks in adopting a new solution, allowing you to address their concerns and demonstrate how your product or service can mitigate those risks.
Validating question Based on our discussion, it seems that [specific issue] is a significant challenge for your team. Is that correct? Use this validating question to confirm your understanding of the prospect's pain points and ensure you're on the same page.
Validating question You mentioned that [specific goal] is a priority for your company. Is that accurate? Validate the prospect's goals to demonstrate active listening and tailor your solution to their objectives.
Validating question Is it correct to say that your current solution is not meeting your expectations in terms of [specific feature or benefit]? Confirm the prospect's dissatisfaction with their current solution to position your product or service as a better alternative.
Validating question Do I understand correctly that your decision-making process involves [specific steps or stakeholders]? Validate your understanding of the prospect's decision-making process to ensure you address the needs of all key decision-makers.
Validating question You mentioned that your budget for this project is in the range of [specific amount]. Is that correct? Confirm the prospect's budget constraints to tailor your solution accordingly and avoid potential misunderstandings.
Validating question Is it accurate to say that your desired timeline for implementing a new solution is [specific timeframe]? Validate the prospect's timeline expectations to ensure your solution can meet their needs within the desired timeframe.
Validating question Based on our conversation, it seems that [specific feature or benefit] is particularly important to you. Is that right? Confirm the prospect's priorities to focus on the most relevant aspects of your solution during follow-up discussions.
Validating question You mentioned that your team is currently using [specific tool or system]. Is that still the case? Validate the prospect's current tools and systems to identify potential integration points and demonstrate how your solution can complement or replace existing tools.
Validating question If I understand correctly, you're looking for a solution that can address [specific pain point or challenge]. Is that accurate? Confirm the prospect's specific needs to ensure your solution is well-aligned with their requirements.
Validating question Is it correct that your main criteria for selecting a new solution are [specific factors]? Validate the prospect's decision criteria to tailor your sales pitch and highlight the features of your solution that align with their priorities.
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Preparing for the Sales Discovery Call

Thorough preparation is crucial to running an effective discovery call with a prospect. Without doing your homework beforehand, you’ll be fumbling in the dark instead of laser-focused on asking the right questions.

Step 1. Get to know your prospects before you meet them.

If there’s one thing that spells disaster on discovery calls, it’s winging it without research. When sales reps haven’t invested time beforehand understanding prospects’ situations, their questions flop. They can’t dig into pain points or position solutions effectively. Discovery calls become aimless chitchat instead of productive conversations guiding opportunities forward.

Trust me, I’ve learned this lesson the hard way over the years. In my earlier days as an SDR, I’d sometimes be so heads-down on outreach volumes that research fell by the wayside. I figured I could get by on charm and improv skills alone. The results of this approach? Let’s just say a lot of very awkward calls ending with quick hang-ups.

These experiences taught me to never ad-lib discovery. Now my sales process involves intensive prep working to deeply understand prospects and their needs. I pore over every morsel of intel that our marketing automation and CRM systems capture. Press releases, case studies, social media posts – nothing escapes scrutiny. This allows me to map out customized discovery plans catered to where prospects are in their buyer’s journeys.

For instance, before a discovery call last week with the VP of Sales, I learned from his social media posts that his team was struggling with long sales cycles. His sales team had practically no visibility into proposals and sales colateral engagement.

Armed with these insights, I crafted discovery call questions about proposal challenges. I asked how sales cycles currently work, obstacles faced, and what a ideal scenario would be. The VP opened up about wanting to implement a more engaging format for their sales collateral. He also wanted to use their extensive library of PDF presentations and sales and marketing materials.

This allowed me to introduce how our product’s video narration, CTA buttons, and attachment features could bring proposals to life on prospects’ terms. I also demonstrated our tracking analytics for optimizing proposal content performance.

In just 30 minutes, discovery revealed a major pain point and opened the door to position DeckLinks as the solution for his sales team. That’s the game-changing power of preparation using what you’ve learned about a prospect’s unique situation.

Step 2. Craft a game plan for call flow and questions.

Once I’ve researched prospects and have a solid understanding of their situations, the next step is crafting a tailored game plan for discovery call flow and questions. Winging it without an agenda leads to scattered, ineffective calls. Discovery is too high stakes for disorganization.

Generally, I allot time to build rapport, transition into discovery questioning, and leave room for wrapping up with next steps. But each call plan is customized based on what I’ve learned about the prospect.

For example, if my research showed the prospect is very detailed-oriented, I’ll budget more time to dig deep with follow up questions. For prospects focused on big picture strategy, I’ll focus the majority on high-level discovery around initiatives and goals.

In terms of shaping the dialogue, I use open-ended questions to prompt prospects to open up about challenges. As they share details, I ask probing follow up questions to fully flesh out pain points. To boost my listening, I take strategic notes on revelations that arise.

To illustrate how this planning pays off, let me walk through a recent discovery call example. The prospect was a Director of Account-Based Marketing at a mid-sized tech company exploring ABM solutions. From my research, I knew they weren’t satisfied with their current platform’s engagement analytics.

With this in mind, I crafted questions to draw out frustrations with those reports and gauge interest in the real-time engagement analytics DeckLinks provides. I also blocked time to demo our dashboards after discovery.

The conversation flowed naturally from discovery questions into positioning our solution as the fix. We scheduled a follow-up demo showcasing reports tailored to their needs. This call never would have been this effective without an agenda guiding the dialogue.

Discovery call questions is my opportunity to demonstrate that I truly understand prospects’ situations and can translate that into solutions. A customized game plan ensures calls stay focused so I can deliver value, not just consume time. When winging it backfires, preparation is what transforms discovery calls.

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Step 3. Set expectations for a productive conversation.

My final step when prepping for discovery calls is setting clear expectations with prospects on the front end. I learned from experience that ambiguity about the call’s purpose breeds misalignment down the line. Discovery goes smoother when everyone starts off on the same page.

To set the stage, I send prospects a personalized agenda detailing the core discussion topics and overall goal. This transparency upfront paves the way for an open, productive dialogue.

For example, I’ll outline that we’ll discuss current challenges they face, dig into specific pain points, and explore how our solution can address needs. I position discovery as the opportunity to assess if we’re a potential fit.

Being candid about my sales process builds trust with prospects. I make it clear I’m not here for a hard sales push or to waste their time. My aim is having an honest conversation focused on determining if we can add value.

In my experience, a bit of extra work on the front end alleviates friction during discovery. When prospects know what’s coming, they don’t feel caught off guard or become evasive. We’re aligned on context and intended outcomes.

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Building Rapport in the Discovery Call

Once discovery calls begin, my top priority is building quick rapport with prospects. Rapport lays the foundation for an open, productive discussion. Without it, prospects stay guarded and discovery goes nowhere.

Step 1. Start with a friendly introduction.

My approach is setting a friendly, conversational tone right from the greeting. I avoid stilted, overly formal introductions. Instead, I establish a genuine, human-to-human connection.

For example, I’ll say something like “Hi [Name], great to finally speak with you! I’ve been looking forward to our call today.” This warm start gets things headed in a positive direction.

If I uncovered any common interests or connections during my research, I’ll bring those up early on. Finding common ground helps break the ice. It cements the rapport crucial for facilitating an honest back-and-forth.
I also watch my tone and pacing. Speaking too fast or formally can raise guards. I keep my voice upbeat but not aggressive. The goal is signaling we’re two professionals having a low-pressure exchange.

When I create a welcoming, trusting environment upfront, prospects open up. Conversations unfold naturally instead of feeling like interrogations. For example, in a recent call I mentioned that like the prospect, I’m also a huge deep house fan. We bonded over Electric Island excitement happening in Toronto before diving into business.

That shared personal connection allowed for a free-flowing discovery discussion. Had I gone in cold, the prospect likely would have remained guarded. Rapport makes all the difference.

Particularly in remote selling, a little extra effort on the front end goes a long way. When prospects see you as a partner, not a pushy salesperson, discovery call transforms.

Step 2. Discuss the prospect's business and role.

Once I’ve established an initial friendly rapport, my next step is steering the conversation towards gaining an understanding of the prospect’s business and role. This context lays crucial groundwork for tailored discovery.

I’ll ask open-ended questions like “Tell me about your organization and your responsibilities there.” This gets prospects talking about what they know best – their own situations.

As they share details, I actively listen and jot down notes. The goal is not just gathering intel but forging an authentic connection by demonstrating genuine interest.

For instance, in a recent call with a Director of Sales Enablement, I asked about her role overseeing sales rep training and readiness. She explained challenges with long manual onboarding using static PDFs.

This allowed me to later discuss how our DeckLinks’ interactive video narrated PDFs and tracking analytics could transform their sales reps onboarding and training. Having context on her specific situation opened the door for tailored discovery around our solution.

Beyond roles, I’ll also inquire about prospects’ career journeys and passions. Again, the focus is on relationship building, not just extracting information.

Discovering we both started in customer service roles or share a favorite podcast creates rapport on a human level. Those personal bonds pay dividends when formal discovery begins.

When prospects see you’re invested in really understanding their world versus rushing to pitch, guards come down. They feel comfortable sharing deeper insights, engaging in the kind of honest two-way exploration that moves deals forward.

Discovery is about the prospect, not me. I’ve learned taking the time to get context makes all the difference. What seems like idle small talk lays the groundwork for discovery that feels like a natural, open dialogue.

Step 3. Transition into discovery questions smoothly.

Once I’ve built initial rapport and gotten context on the prospect’s situation, it’s time to transition into purposeful discovery. This is a pivotal moment – how smoothly I bridge into asking discovery questions impacts the call’s effectiveness.

Over the years, I’ve sharpened my approach to make this pivot conversational, not abrupt. I’ll say something like “Now that I have a better understanding of your operations, let’s explore some of the key challenges you’re dealing with.”

This demonstrates I was actively listening before shifting gears. It lays the groundwork for discovery to feel like a logical progression versus coming out of left field.

I’ll also reiterate what we’re trying to achieve: identifying needs where our solution may be able to help. Framing expectations upfront is key. Going back to my previous example, my rapport-building revealed challenges with static PDF-based training. I responded with “It sounds like you’re looking for ways to make your sales training content more engaging beyond traditional PDFs. Let’s spend our remaining time exploring how video-narrated PDFs that you can track could help address those gaps.”

This transition tied directly into previous conversation points while foreshadowing discovery. The prospect knew what was coming and why. My discovery questions could then build directly on the context we’d already established.

When transitioning into the meat of discovery, sales reps must remain hyper focused on keeping the conversation natural. Discovery should always feel like a logical next step, not a disruptive twist. A seamless shift keeps prospects engaged and the call on a solution-oriented track.

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Asking Effective Discovery Questions

1. Ask open-ended questions to uncover pain points.

Once I’ve built rapport and transitioned into discovery, open-ended questions are vital for uncovering prospects’ core pain points. Unlike closed-ended questions that can be answered with a simple yes/no, open-ended questions require detailed explanations. This elicits the insights needed to identify needs.

My favorites include “What are some of the biggest challenges your team is facing right now?” and “Tell me about the issues that keep you up at night regarding your current solution.”

These prompts work because they encourage prospects to speak candidly about frustrations. I gain invaluable perspective into true pain points versus surface-level annoyances.

When prospects open up about challenges, I listen intently without interrupting. This shows my genuine interest in understanding issues from their point of view.

I’ll never forget the call where an old friend of mine, Head of HR at a B2B company in manufacturing space, opened up about challenges with their training and onboarding program. As we caught up, I asked how onboarding and continual training was going.

“Ugh, it’s a mess,” he confessed. “All we have are these long PowerPoint onboarding and training materials and printed workbooks. Our new hires just can’t stay engaged enough to retain the info.”

He described how their static materials were failing when new hires desperately needed interactive training. Instead of jumping in with a pitch, I let him vent about the problem first.

Once he finished, I was able to suggest how our secure interactive PDF platform could bring their training and onboarding materials to life through video narration and built-in analytics.

Starting with an open-ended question uncovered their core training pain points. And active listening rather than pitching right away built trust and understanding. This is how discovery dialogues reveal true needs.

2. Ask probing questions to dig deeper.

Open-ended questions lay the groundwork for discovery, but probing follow ups are crucial for digging into the specifics of prospects’ pain points. After an initial open-ended query, I’ll ask clarifying questions to fully understand challenges.

Just yesterday, I was on a discovery call with the VP of Sales. When I asked an open-ended question about their current sales collateral challenges, he mentioned a big pain point was sales collateral going stale quickly.

I probed further: “What makes keeping sales collateral updated difficult? How does this impact your team’s effectiveness?”

He explained that all their sales collateral are static PDFs. Whenever a price changes or new product spec gets released, they have to email PDFs to all sales reps. This results in tons of wasted time and sales reps using outdated sales collateral.

By asking follow up questions, I uncovered vital details about their specific struggle with keeping sales collateral current. This allowed me to introduce DeckLinks’ PDF version control and automated update capabilities as the perfect solution.

The VP was thrilled we offered an answer to this drawn-out problem stifling their sales teams. My probing questions identified a need he was eager to finally address. That’s the power of follow up discovery done right.

Probing shows prospects you’re not just checking boxes, but actively listening and committed to fully understanding their situations. This builds trust while unearthing the intelligence needed to properly position solutions tailored to their needs.

Pro tip: Take notes when Prospects describe pain points and reiterate specifics back. “So it sounds like without X capability, your team spends hours on Y redundant tasks – did I get that right?” This shows you’re listening closely.

Of course, follow up questions require treading delicately to avoid seeming pushy. I’ll say “Let’s explore this issue further” rather than just firing off pressures rapid-fire. Finesse ensures follow ups advance, not hinder, discovery.

3. Mix strategic high-level and tactical questions.

My most effective discovery calls blend strategic, high-level questions with tactical, detail-oriented probes. This combination uncovers both the big picture challenges prospects face and the granular pain points hindering success.

I’ll start discovery with open-ended strategic questions like:

“What major initiatives is your team focused on this quarter / year?”

“How do you measure overall success for your department?”

This reveals broader goals, metrics, and priorities. I gain perspective on the prospect’s global objectives and concerns.

Then I’ll ask tactical follow up questions to drill down on specifics:

“Tell me about the day-to-day processes involved in executing that initiative.”

“What KPIs do you track to benchmark that goal?”

The tactical probing uncovers on-the-ground challenges and nuances. I learn where exactly they’re stuck and why.

I avoid focusing solely on the tactical at the expense of the strategic, or vice versa. The combination of both perspectives produces complete understanding.

Discovery questions should flow naturally between big picture and nitty-gritty. This full view allows me to demonstrate how our solutions can address both strategic gaps and tactical pain points.

The right balance of perspectives produces actionable insights that drive discovery. I want prospects walking away feeling completely understood and eager about solutions.

Custom branding
Showcase your brand.
Video narrations
Easily video-narrate sales presentations or proposals when needed (otherwise video is optional). Redo slide if you made a mistake. Use built-in teleprompter to record longer videos.

Data rooms
Attach any supporting files and links. Make it easy for your prospects and clients to find the right information quickly.

Company profiles
Create company profiles with custom banners and info-packages tailored to different industries.
Contact details
Show your contact info easily accessible by your prospects and clients.
Custom CTAs
Add custom CTAs to drive prospects or clients to your calendar, sign up form, etc.
Engagement analytics
See how prospects and clients interact with your PDFs.

Feedback and Reactions
Collect feedback from prospects and clients. Feedback and reactions are not publicly visible.
Share PDFs
Share any existing PDF presentations and documents.
Live links
Share with a single link. Update files even after sharing your link. Get notified when your PDF is viewed. Turn off access anytime.

DeckLinks icon

4x Sales Content Engagement

Record and share Video PDF presentations and proposals and WOW your prospects and clients with the most personal customer experience. Access engagement analytics. Learn more.

Qualifying the Opportunity

Step 1. Identify the decision-making process.

Once I’ve uncovered pain points, a crucial next step is qualifying the opportunity by mapping out the prospect’s decision-making process. This intelligence is invaluable for navigating deals efficiently to close.

I’ll ask questions like:

“Walk me through what the evaluation and decision cycle looks like on your end regarding a potential solution?”

“Who ultimately makes the final call on approving a vendor?”

“What factors are most important in driving a final ‘yes’ vs ‘no’ decision?”

Understanding the decision-making process, key players, timeline, and criteria illuminates a clear path to moving the deal forward. I gain clarity on qualifying milestones, decision committee roles, and influencer strategies.

Recently, an ABM Director mapped out a 6-month decision-making process involving their CMO, a procurement review, and a final vote by the VP of Finance.

This insight was crucial for properly pacing follow-ups and crafting messaging tailored to each stakeholder’s priorities based on their role.
Without asking discovery questions to qualify the process, I’d be working blind and likely derail the deal by not accounting for their timeline and nuances.

Besides the decision-making process, I also want to understand the prospect’s general buying style. Are they hands-on evaluators or more hands-off delegators? This helps me adapt my sales style accordingly.

Discovery questions equip me to guide prospects efficiently through their unique buying process from initial interest to closed deal. Qualifying the opportunity sets both sides up for success.

Step 2: Uncover budget and time constraints.

Beyond the decision-making process, I always want to qualify opportunities by uncovering budget and timeline constraints during discovery. This intel prevents any mismatches between prospect expectations and my solution proposals down the line.

I’ll directly ask questions like:

“What is the budget range you have in mind for this initiative?”

“What factors determine the size of that budget?”

“What is your timeframe for getting a solution in place?”

Getting prospects to provide ballpark figures gives me guardrails for tailoring solutions to their spending limitations. I can also probe on whether budgets might be flexible for the right product.

Regarding timelines, I aim to understand both the evaluation period and desired go-live date. This helps me best pace follow-ups and coordinate resources for proper delivery.

During a recent call, an Account-Based Marketing Director shared they hoped to select a vendor within 2 months and onboard by Q1 next year. I could then plan my follow-up cadence accordingly and start discussions with operations about Q1 implementation capacity.

The last thing I want is to be working off different assumptions around budget, selection timeframes, or delivery expectations. Broaching these topics directly prevents bad surprises and sets us both up for success.

Qualifying budget and timeline constraints gives me the full picture to guide prospects efficiently towards the finish line. I view this discovery process as laying rock-solid groundwork for a partnership built on transparency.

Step 3. Assess prospect-solution fit.

After uncovering pains and process, a key milestone is qualifying fit. Are prospects’ needs aligned with my solution’s strengths? Or is there a mismatch indicating more discovery is needed?

I determine fit by asking questions like:

“Based on what we’ve discussed, do you feel like my solution could address your top priorities and pain points?”

“Does our offering align with your budget, timeline, and process expectations?”

“What potential hurdles do you anticipate in getting stakeholders on board?”

This feedback reveals if I properly understood their situation and if our solution resonates. If they express hesitation, I dig deeper on concerns and re-evaluate fit.

A marketing prospect recently shared our platform aligned well with their martech stack and pain points. But they worried our reporting lacked the customization they needed.

This insight allowed me to introduce custom dashboards and schedule a follow-up demo to alleviate those concerns. Determining that key mismatch early prevented a lost deal down the line.

Beyond solution-market fit, I also assess prospect commitment and credibility. Do they seem genuinely engaged or noncommittal? Are they the real decision maker or out of the loop?

Qualifying for fit ensures I target the right prospects with the right solutions. Trying to force a square peg into a round hole benefits no one. Discovery helps me recognize when continuing conversations promises real potential versus wasting valuable time for both sides.

Asking candid fit questions prevents deals from derailing at advanced stages over surprise misalignments. Taking this pulse early provides an honest gauge of whether mutual success is possible.

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Moving the Sale Forward

Discovery calls aren’t just about extracting prospects’ pains – they’re about mapping those insights into follow-up actions that drive deals forward.

1. Leverage discoveries to guide next actions.

I’ll never forget a recent call with the Head of HR. Through my questions, I learned they relied heavily on static PDFs for training and onboarding. But she was frustrated with low engagement and inability to track content usage.

Based on these discoveries, I proposed sending over a sample interactive video-narrated PDF created with DeckLinks focused on training and onboarding. This would allow her team to experience firsthand how our features could transform their PDF content.

The prospect loved this suggestion, as it directly addressed her core pain points around low engagement and hard-to-track PDF content. She was thrilled to see our solution in action.

It’s moments like these that remind me discovery’s purpose is guiding next steps that move opportunities forward. Asking the right questions provides the intel to pair prospects with specific follow-ups that add value.

When I turn discoveries into tailored actions – like sending relevant demos or conducting targeted audits – prospects feel understood and sales momentum builds. The real magic happens connecting insights to outcomes.

2. Show how your solution can help.

The lightbulb moment of discovery is when prospects’ pain points align with your solution’s strengths. Introducing how you can help address challenges shows you were listening and connects needs to outcomes.

When prospects open up about issues, I summarize back what I heard to demonstrate empathy:

“It sounds like without strong analytics, you’re having trouble identifying PDF content bottlenecks.”

This validation builds trust and signals I’m ready to be a partner in solving problems.

Next, I bridge into relevant capabilities:

“Our platform gives real-time visibility into which PDF content see engagement versus go untouched. This insight helps hyper-target content that resonates.”

I take care to position features naturally, avoiding jargon or launching right into a sales pitch. The goal is showing I understand their needs and that my solution can address them.

Of course, prospects may still have lingering concerns about adoption, change management, etc. I address objections by asking follow-up questions to assess potential hurdles.

Ultimately, discovery done right makes your solution a trusted advisor rather than vendor. Positioning yourself as the answer prospects have been searching for accelerates sales velocity.

3. Schedule follow-up calls and meetings.

Discovery calls generate tremendous momentum. But without quick follow-through, deals risk stalling. That’s why I always conclude discussions by scheduling next steps tailored to prospects’ needs.

If discovery reveals budget needs further alignment, for example, I’ll suggest a call with our pricing team to explore models that fit their constraints. For prospects wanting stakeholder buy-in, I’ll offer to equip them with customized presentations of our solution’s value.

Ideally, I’ll schedule the next call or meeting right then and there to lock in plans while excitement is high. This could be a demo, requirements workshop, or consultation with an architect – whatever discovery revealed is needed to advance the opportunity.

Recently, a Marketing Director was interested in our reporting automation but worried her ABM marketing team may resist adopting a new platform. I proposed a call where her team could outline their requirements so we can tailor onboarding plans to ease the transition.

She happily accepted the offer, which wouldn’t have been possible without discovery first highlighting adoption concerns. Follow-ups based on needs uncovered build sales momentum.

Beyond calls, I also share relevant assets like use cases, platform guides, and sample ROI analyses. This gives prospects valuable takeaways and keeps me top of mind until we connect again.

The worst thing post-discovery is going back to status quo. Savvy salespeople capitalize on insights immediately through right-fit follow-ups demonstrating commitment to prospects’ success. Discovery is just the starting point – taking action is what accelerates opportunities.

Following Up After the Call

Discovery calls generate powerful insights, but their impact diminishes without prompt follow-up. My first step after every call is sending prospects a recap summarizing key takeaways discussed.

1. Send a thank you and recap of key points.

Discovery calls generate powerful insights, but their impact diminishes without prompt follow-up. My first step after every call is sending prospects a recap summarizing key takeaways discussed.

The recap serves multiple purposes. First, it demonstrates active listening by highlighting the prospect’s core pain points and priorities back to them. They feel heard knowing I absorbed their challenges.

Second, it preserves valuable insights that can get lost in the shuffle after hanging up. Having a written record ensures both sides retain the intelligence uncovered to drive next steps.

Finally, recap emails keep momentum going by serving as a bridge until the next scheduled touchpoint. Prospects appreciate having an asset to reference that reminds them of why we connected in the first place.

For example, after a recent discovery call with a Marketing Director, I recapped how we discussed their struggles with hard-to-update PDF collateral in their current CMS. I reiterated her desire for a solution like DeckLinks that empowers sales teams with interactive, dynamically updated PDFs.

The prospect replied thanking me for the clear and comprehensive follow-up. My demonstrated understanding gave her confidence she found a partner able to address their needs and keep initiatives moving forward.

Discovery lays the groundwork for success, but it’s just the beginning. Following up promptly with recaps turns insights into relationships and progress. The smallest actions can have the biggest impact when it comes to moving deals forward.

2. Enter discoveries into CRM and update opportunity.

The insights uncovered during discovery are too valuable to risk losing. My next urgent follow-up task is documenting key takeaways in our CRM so they become part of the prospect record.

I’ll outline discovered pain points, requirements, and next steps discussed. This ensures the entire sales team has access to the intelligence that will inform our solution positioning and messaging.

Entering details like budget parameters, competitor usage, or feature wish lists transforms CRM from generic records into strategic guides mapping the path to closing.

Equally important is updating opportunity planning based on discoveries. For example, if I learned procurement needs to review vendors first, I’ll build that into the evaluation timeline. Or if certain features emerged as must-haves, I’ll flag engineering collaboration required.

This ensures the next sales rep picking up the opportunity has the context needed to move the ball forward, not backwards. And planning reflects the reality of the prospect’s situation versus generic assumptions.

The time invested in recording discoveries pays dividends across the entire revenue cycle. Sales, account management, and customer success can all leverage insights learned rather than starting from scratch.

And nothing is more frustrating for prospects than repeating pain points they assumed were documented. Capturing intelligence demonstrates commitment beyond just extracting information.

3. Plan tailored follow-up communications.

The insights uncovered during discovery allow me to craft tailored follow-up messages that continue sales momentum. Instead of generic templates, I personalize emails, social outreach, and content to tackle prospects’ specific pain points.

For example, if budget constraints emerged as a key concern, I’ll share custom ROI analysis highlighting potential savings compared to their current solution. For prospects worried about user adoption, I’ll send case studies detailing our onboarding best practices.

I’ll also reference previous conversations to remind prospects of why we connected in the first place: “Per our discussion about the difficulties of updating static PDF collateral, I wanted to share…”

This level of personalization reinforces that I was listening and my focus is on addressing their challenges, not making a quick sale.

Whatever form follow-ups take, personalization is key. I leverage insights learned to provide assets that move opportunities forward, not just more noise. Targeted outreach shows I understand prospects’ situations and keeps me top of mind.

Discovery calls build the relationship. Follow-up communications advance them by demonstrating I can make prospects’ lives easier. Keeping messaging aligned with needs uncovered rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach makes all the difference in moving deals towards closed-won.

Custom branding
Showcase your brand.
Video narrations
Easily video-narrate sales presentations or proposals when needed (otherwise video is optional). Redo slide if you made a mistake. Use built-in teleprompter to record longer videos.

Data rooms
Attach any supporting files and links. Make it easy for your prospects and clients to find the right information quickly.

Company profiles
Create company profiles with custom banners and info-packages tailored to different industries.
Contact details
Show your contact info easily accessible by your prospects and clients.
Custom CTAs
Add custom CTAs to drive prospects or clients to your calendar, sign up form, etc.
Engagement analytics
See how prospects and clients interact with your PDFs.

Feedback and Reactions
Collect feedback from prospects and clients. Feedback and reactions are not publicly visible.
Share PDFs
Share any existing PDF presentations and documents.
Live links
Share with a single link. Update files even after sharing your link. Get notified when your PDF is viewed. Turn off access anytime.

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Continually Improving Discovery Skills

Even the most seasoned sales rep has room for improving their discovery skills. That’s why I make a practice of recording discovery calls to review what went well and where there’s opportunity to grow.

1. Record calls and review for improvement.

Listening back to calls allows me to critically evaluate aspects like:

  • My questioning technique – Do I ask open-ended questions? How well do I probe for details?
  • Conversation flow – How smoothly do I transition between topics?
  • Active listening – How well do I refrain from interrupting prospects?
  • Needs identification – How effectively do I draw out core challenges?

Evaluating these dynamics helps me recognize both strengths and areas needing fine-tuning. For example, reviewing a call recently, I noticed I jumped in too quickly to position DeckLinks instead of letting the prospect expand on their PDF engagement struggles first.

To complement listening, I’ll also transcribe key parts of the call to analyze question wording, conversational tone, and insights uncovered. Seeing an exchange on paper illuminates nuances I can enhance.

Beyond technique, I also assess discovery outcomes. Did the call reveal valuable intelligence to inform next steps? Did I secure a follow-up meeting? Reviews help me determine what discovery approaches drive results.

Like performance analysis for star athletes, call reviews make me better even when I think I’m already operating at my peak. There are always new insights to apply and refinements to be made.

Discovery is the foundation of my sales process. Taking time to openly analyze recordings rather than just completing calls for the sake of activity metrics ensures I never stop sharpening my skills.

2. Update discovery call questions list based on discoveries.

Discovery calls reveal powerful insights – not just into prospects’ situations, but into the effectiveness of my questions. I always review exchanges to uncover opportunities to refine my discovery call questions list.

For example, if a certain open-ended question yields vague responses from prospects repeatedly, that’s a red flag it needs reworking. I’ll brainstorm ways to reframe it to draw out more details.

Recently, I noticed prospects struggled to provide clear answers when asked “What does your ideal vendor partnership look like?” After feedback from colleagues, I honed this to “What three attributes do you prioritize most in working with vendors?”

The improved wording made prospects’ needs easier to articulate. I could then tailor my messaging to emphasize those desired partnership qualities.

Beyond revising ineffective questions, I’ll also add new ones based on discoveries. If pricing objections arise frequently, I’ll incorporate targeted questions to uncover budget drivers early on. My discovery call questions list evolves continuously.

And categorizing questions based on buyer personas takes my readiness to the next level. I group queries by role so discovery is tailored from the start of each call.

While recordings help me strengthen technique, insights gained fuel ongoing discovery call questions list improvements. Constant refinement ensures I capture actionable intelligence to advance opportunities.

Discovery is like mining – the more sophisticated your tools, the better the yield. The work doesn’t stop once calls end. Fresh questions are the new veins of intelligence to keep pipelines flowing.

By continually updating my discovery call question arsenal based on prospects’ responses, I’m able to have smarter, more productive discovery conversations over time.

3. Practice active listening and conversation skills.

Beyond question wording, the soft skills of active listening and conversational dexterity make or break discovery. I dedicate real time to sharpening these techniques through practice.

For active listening training, I’ll have colleagues speak uninterrupted for 2-3 minutes on any topic, taking notes on revelations, then summarize back what I heard. This strengthens focus and retention.

I also analyze recordings for instances where I interrupted prospects or injected my own perspectives, rather than drawing out theirs. Catching these tendencies helps eliminate them.

In terms of conversational fluidity, I regularly rehearse transitioning smoothly between discovery topics without abrupt shifts. Good flow maintains engagement.

Additionally, I work on using language intentionally, avoiding filler words and varying tone for emphasis. This polished delivery makes conversations feel natural.

For example, I may rehearse a mock discovery call, consciously applying active listening techniques like affirming prospects’ perspectives and using their terminology in follow up questions to demonstrate retention.

The goal is having discovery feel less like an interview and more like a insightful dialogue between partners. Discussion, not interrogation, yields the deepest insights.

Like an athlete relentlessly perfecting mechanics, I see mastering these fluid conversation skills as fundamental to unlocking discovery’s full potential. The human touch remains the X-factor.

With practice and reflection, I continually refine subtle dynamics that build trust, rapport, and mutual understanding with prospects. Great discovery is a work in progress, never static.

Conclusion

On the surface, it may seem simple – ask discovery call questions, get answers. But employed strategically, discovery is sales’ secret weapon, capable of busting through any barrier standing between you and revenue goals.

Wielded properly, the right discovery call questions dismantle roadblocks like distrust, misalignment, and ill-fitting solutions. They pick the lock to customers’ true needs, opening the door to lasting partnerships.

Discovery calls done right is a superpower. It peers through walls obscuring the heart of prospects’ businesses, giving you X-ray vision to detect the deepest pains. It tunes your hearing to detect the subtle clues in prospects’ words that pinpoint exactly where they struggle most.

Discovery call questions extract the insights other sales tactics simply cannot access. While brochures sit in drawers and emails go unopened, discovery call questions produce intelligence that directs your every move.

FAQs

How can discovery calls accelerate the sales cycle?

Discovery calls accelerate the sales cycle by uncovering prospects’ pain points, needs, and budgets. Through open-ended questions, sales professionals build rapport, gain valuable insights, and move deals forward, making the sales process more efficient and increasing the chances of a successful outcome.

A great discovery call begins with genuine interest and active listening to uncover prospect’s pain points and needs. Asking open-ended questions, probing for specifics, and building rapport are crucial. Understanding the prospect’s decision-making process, budget, and current solution is essential.

During a discovery call, ask open-ended questions to uncover prospect pain points, needs, and objectives. Probing questions about their current solution, decision-making process, and budget are crucial. Inquire about their goals, challenges, and desired outcomes. Tailor questions to the prospect’s specific situation.

Active listening enhances the discovery call process by helping sales professionals fully understand prospect pain points, needs, and objectives. It enables them to ask the right questions, build trust, and tailor solutions effectively, ultimately leading to a more successful outcome and closing more deals.

Sales reps can ask the right discovery call questions by thoroughly researching the prospect, understanding their pain points and goals. Use open-ended questions, actively listen, and adapt questions based on responses. Prioritize qualification, build trust and follow up with relevant queries to gain valuable insights.

The number of questions in a discovery call varies, but quality matters more than quantity. Focus on asking the right questions to fully understand the prospect’s needs and pain points. Avoid overwhelming them; aim for a meaningful conversation to build trust and move the sales process forward effectively.

About the Author

Lidia Vijga is a seasoned professional with nearly 10 years of first-hand experience in B2B sales and B2B marketing. She has a proven track record of driving growth for companies across various industries. Throughout her career, Lidia has led numerous successful sales campaigns and implemented innovative marketing strategies that have significantly increased revenue and reduced customer acquisition cost for her clients. Lidia regularly shares her insights and experiences on LinkedIn, webinars, and public speaking engagements. Lidia believes in the power of personal qualities such as kindness, empathy, and the willingness to understand others. She is committed to empowering client-facing teams with tools that enhance their talent instead of automating it, and she firmly believes that teams that show their human side grow companies much faster.

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