28 Questions to Ask on a Call During the Sales Discovery Process

Closing calls are sexy. They’re the calls where a deal gets moved across the line, contracts get signed, and you earn your commission checks.

But closing calls are a bit of a fait accompli. Depending on who you sell to and what you sell, you could have already spent 10 to 20 hours with your prospect. You should have a good idea of whether the deal will close and for how much.

What is a discovery call?

I’ve had deals that I thought would be relatively standard, but because I didn’t dive deep in discovery, they ended up being unduly complex.

Most prospects are okay with participating in a discovery call, as long as it’s not an interrogation. Discovery calls are crucial for sales professionals to understand the details of a prospect’s situation.

On the other side, prospects want to leave a discovery call knowing who you are and what your company is all about. They might have specific questions about a product feature or a term.

Most importantly, they need to be assured that you understand their problem and that you will make a professional assessment to determine if you can help them or not.

For your part, you should confirm lead intelligence associated with the prospect that is picked up by any inbound technology your organization might use.

You also need to qualify your prospect and determine their business pain, influence within the organization, their willingness to advocate for your product, and their preliminary attitude toward purchasing your product versus a competitor’s.

Below I’ve listed my go-to discovery questions. You won’t be able to cover every question on every call — and it might not make sense to. Qualify your prospect using the following questions in order and disqualify at any point if it becomes clear they’re a bad fit.

The questions above can be separated into four subsections within the sales discovery process: setting the stage, qualify, disqualify, and next steps. Let’s take a closer look.

Let’s assign each of the questions above to the appropriate part of the sales discovery process.

Setting the stage questions

This is where you validate your research and learn about the customer’s situation. This gives you the proper insight you need to move forward.

  1. Tell me about your company.
  2. Tell me about your role. What do you do day-to-day?
  3. What metrics are you responsible for?

Questions that qualify

After you’ve learned about your prospect, it’s time to identify their goals and clarify their pain points. Learn about their problems so you can solve for the customer.

  1. Tell me about your goals (financial, customer-related, operational).
  2. When do you need to achieve these goals by?
  3. What problem are you trying to solve?
  4. Are you having problems in [area as relates to the product]?
  5. What’s the source of that problem?
  6. Why is it a priority today?
  7. Why hasn’t it been addressed before?
  8. What do you think could be a potential solution? Why?
  9. What would a successful outcome look like?
  10. If you didn’t choose a product, do you have a plan in place to address this problem?

Questions that disqualify

Next, ask questions that might disqualify the prospect. Find out what you can about the decision process, from budget to scheduling.

  1. What are your primary roadblocks to implementing this plan?
  2. What’s your timeline for implementation?
  3. Is this problem funded?
  4. Whose budget does the funding come from?
  5. Is the budget owner an “executive sponsor”?

Next Step Questions

Lastly, ask questions that move the prospect along the pipeline. Provide a solution and offer next steps.

  1. Who else will be involved in choosing a vendor?
  2. Do you have written decision criteria for choosing a vendor? Who compiled these criteria?
  3. Have you purchased a similar product before?
  4. Is this a competitive situation?
  5. What’s the process for actually purchasing the product once you decide on it? Are there legal or procurement reviews?
  6. What are potential curve balls?
  7. How can I help make this easy?
  8. How will this solution make your life better?
  9. What are your organization’s goals for the year?
  10. If you implement this solution, how do you hope things are different in one year?

You’ll know that you’ve run a good discovery call if you and your prospect are able to formulate a written sales plan and delineate the next steps. If there’s still uncertainty when you hang up the phone, schedule another call to iron out remaining details.

Prioritize qualification over process-based questions. A legal or procurement process isn’t a roadblock to a sale, but a lack of business plan is. Once you’ve gotten the big-ticket items out of the way — for example, establishing a goal and talking through potential plans to achieve it — you can move on to the nitty-gritty of the deal.

Ideally, a discovery call will either clearly surface a sales opportunity or definitively disqualify a prospect. You should come out of your calls with an understanding of your prospect’s needs and how you can help solve them.

One final note: Always add value to the discovery call by providing some recommendations or simple ways to help. If you leave the prospect with a positive impression, they are more likely to reach out when they become sales-ready (if they aren’t currently).

More of a visual person? Check out the handy SlideShare below for deeper dives into the first 25 questions. Also, learn more about asking open-ended questions here.

Written by Dan Tyre

Sourced from: The HubSpot

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