If you’re in sales, then chances are you know all about the discovery call. You’ve been on these calls, calling the shots, asking the questions. You might even see yourself as a discovery call KING.
But here’s the honest truth. You’re probably not. No offense – I’ve just found that many salespeople completely botch this critical call in the sales process. They ask the wrong questions, in the wrong ways, with the wrong motives.
Thankfully there’s a better way to “discover” if there’s a client fit. And it’s not rocket science. In fact, today I’m sharing all about the most salient tactics and strategies to incorporate into your next discovery call.
But first, before diving in, we have a little ground to cover to gain better context. Let’s start with the purpose of this all-important call that sets the tone for all future calls with your prospect.
The Purpose of the Discovery Call
The purpose is threefold. First, the discovery call is to find out if you can actually help your prospect solve a problem. Second, the discovery call is to gather intel about your prospect’s pain points and challenges, their goals and dreams, and their desire for transformation. And finally, the discovery call is used to qualify your prospect as a buyer. Do they fulfill B.A.N.T. criteria. That is, do they have the budget for your product, the authority to make a buying decision, the need for your offer, and is the timing right?
Discovery Call Questions
To learn all of this, you have to ask poignant questions. Not too many, but not too few. Each question has to be geared toward your prospect’s business goals. And each question should help move them closer and closer to signing the partnership agreement, believe it or not.
How many questions should you ask? Depends on who you’re selling to. If you’re sitting with the Director up to the VP level, you can afford to ask 8-10 questions. But the C-Suite tends to be busier and less available. So feel it out, but somewhere in the ballpark of 5-8 questions is the sweet spot for CEOs, COOs, CMOs, and the like. (Keep an eye out for my next article where I’ll share exactly which questions to ask during your discovery calls.)
The Types of Questions to Ask During The Discovery Phase
Ask questions that get your prospects to dream BIG and imagine the possibilities. For example, “How would you use the free time/revenue/resources that will open up if we solve this problem?”
Frame your questions in a way that elicits long and thoughtful responses. For example, “Walk me through what it would mean to you to solve this problem.” And ask open-ended questions always! The more your prospect talks (and the more YOU listen), the closer you’ll be to signing the deal.
The Types of Questions NOT to Ask
I just mentioned open-ended questions are key — so obviously steer away from closed-ended questions. Strike any question that your prospect can answer with one word, or even one sentence. You have to squeeze to get the juice, if you follow.
Also, don’t ask trite questions that they expect to hear (and DO hear multiple times each week from other salespeople). These are questions like “How do you define success?” or “Tell me about your sales process” or “What are your revenue goals.” Sure, you can ask questions like these, but at the very least reword them to sound new and thoughtful.
And lastly, don’t ask any question that doesn’t tie-in to your prospect’s business goals… as they see their goals. Keep in mind that the CEO, the CTO, and the VP of HR all might work for the same company, but they all have very different business goals. And it’s not always growth- and revenue-focused. You have to be mindful of this going into the discovery call.
How to Structure Your Questions
I don’t want to give too much away today, because soon I’ll write an in-depth post about how to structure your discovery calls and sales calls. There is, after all, a winning framework that’ll help you crush your sales numbers almost immediately. But the pivotal point to understand is that you should order your questions in a similar way that people move through a B2B sale.
You’ll start with grabbing their attention, then move to pique their interest, then tease-out pain points, then build desire, and finally invite them to take action. And yes, you can do all of this during the discovery call while also building rapport and gaining the actionable intel that you (or your AE) needs to later close the deal. And believe it or not, it’s all much easier than it sounds.
Discovery Call is the Ground Floor to Building Trust
I mentioned trust earlier. And it’s no secret that trust is the foundation of B2B sales.
So the discovery call is prime opportunity to begin building trust. It’s the first contact the buyer has with your brand. With this in mind, it’s important to never outsource your discovery calls to foreign lands (sorry India and the Philippines!). You want native English speakers who have stellar communication skills. You don’t want them reading from canned scripts, as the discovery call isn’t meant to be a barrage of questions — rather it’s a discussion or dialogue meant to build a working relationship. It’s best to take a conversational tone and relaxed approach. Put your prospect at ease. Get them to laugh. The more fun they have, the more they’ll share. (You do know that you can do business and ink deals while having fun, right?)
So there you have it. Take these strategies and tactics into your discovery calls starting today. Remember the three-fold purpose of this important sales call, the types of questions you should be asking, and the types of questions to steer clear of. And finally, make an honest effort to start seeing the discovery call as the perfect opportunity to really connect with the prospect, who is likely to become a paying client or customer in the near future.
WIth that, it’s time to get out there and make your discovery calls count.
Until next time…