We give a lot of attention to cold calling best practices and quick tips, and in an ideal world you would just close the deal and call it a day on that first call (ha, if only), but in our world of B2B sales it's just the beginning. All of our efforts to help you crush your cold calls are for the sole purpose of booking the next step in the sales process: the discovery call.
If you lead the discovery correctly, you and your prospect will determine if the fit and the timing are right, or not. Either way, the pipeline flows, so knowing when to table a potential deal is just as important as knowing when to move one forward.
Like a good first date, an effective discovery call begins with asking the right open-ended questions. Keep reading for 9 sets of essential questions to ask on your sales discovery calls that will help you qualify your prospects.
"How do you have a great conversation with scripting? Questions tight. Conversation loose."
MARK KOSOGLOW, VP OF SALES AT OUTREACH
These questions are entry points for building trust and demonstrating your general knowledge of the field. During your discovery call, remember to frame these questions in a way that reflects your interest and concern about the prospect, with the aim of building a genuine relationship. Initiate and/or be on the lookout for other opportunities to make personal connections such as events attended, books read, admired thought leaders, hobbies, pets, advocacies, favorite sport teams, etc.
Example rapport questions:
When opportunities arise, ask about the prospect’s location (tourist spots, sports team, positive news, etc.) or company (trending industry news, etc.)
Time to show your savvy side by focusing on business. As a diligent sales professional, you have (hopefully) done prior research in this area and created not only an engagement strategy but a discovery call checklist as well.
Example exploration questions:
Make these sales discovery questions count by practicing empathy and active listening. Based on the challenges shared by the prospect, you can get a general picture of whether their organization can benefit from your product. Never assume you know their problems thoroughly. Prospects will have unique needs that only they can properly articulate - it’s your job to keep them talking.
Example probing questions:
This is where you can read the terrain and discover good spots for making a strong entry. There’s a good chance your prospects are already addressing their challenges using a product or service similar to your own. But there’s also the possibility that they’re not using any solution from your sector at the moment. It’s imperative that you gather intel, either way.
Example assessment questions:
Solving a problem is one thing. Living your best life is another. Steer the sales discovery call towards a state where the prospect will eagerly transition from just voicing out grievances to opening up about their actual needs, core motivations, and long-term goals.
Example goal-identifying questions:
In the B2B space, a single contact rarely has full authority in making major purchase decisions, unless you are talking to the CEO of a four-person startup. As a sales operator, it’s your responsibility to accurately chart an organization’s decision-making process in terms of milestones and the specific triggers that will move every stakeholder in the process to give their nod on a major acquisition/purchase.
Example decision making clarification questions:
Pricing counts among the key factors that greatly impact purchase decisions. However, do not feel disheartened when prospects initially signal that your solution does not match their budget. Unless you have exerted all efforts at communicating value, continue highlighting the state of success, happiness, or awesomeness that your solution can help them achieve. Reinforce your sales discovery call templates with ROI figures, especially those your other customers have already achieved.
Example budget questions:
Even for the most seemingly-perfect accounts, the solution you offer and the prospect’s situation might still be mismatched. Perhaps your solution works best with a minimum number of users and their startup simply doesn’t have the numbers yet. Perhaps your product integrates better with specific platforms that they don't use. To ensure customer happiness, make sure not only that your solution delivers on its promises but that the expected results make your prospect feel justified for investing in you.
Example fit questions:
Now for the fun part! The faster you move prospects through the pipeline, the more you accelerate sales velocity and help drive revenue. Use these questions to guide the right prospects forward in the buyer journey.
Example next-steps questions:
Pick and choose from these lists to tailor your discovery calls to each prospect and your own sales strategy. Remember: no need to force all the questions or the conversation won't flow. Keep discovery calls to about 30 minutes.
Remember, it takes more than a great discovery call to improve your close rates. While discovery is a crucial milestone on the path to closing, sellers often find themselves in a constant struggle to balance priorities. Discover how Outreach guides sellers to take actions that lead to winning outcomes — across every stage of their sales cycle.
Want more discovery call tips from seasoned sales pros? Follow Outreach VP of Sales Mark Kosoglow's #DiscoDeepDive on Linkedin, or check out a few of our top posts for AEs: