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Sales Discovery Calls: What, Why, and How to Do It

Unlock the secrets to powerful sales conversations! Discover how to transform your sales discovery calls into bridges of trust, turning prospects into committed customers. Dive into our guide for insider tips and strategies!

Julian Lankstead

The discovery call is a pivotal moment in the high-stakes sales arena. You can turn a prospect from a casual converser to a committed customer. Have you ever wondered what separates a successful sales professional from the rest? 

It's not the ability to talk; it's the power to listen and uncover what matters to your clients. A discovery call is not just a conversation. It explores the heart of your prospect's needs, challenges, and aspirations. It's where the magic of sales begins. 

Read on if you want to conduct discovery calls that transform your sales process. Prepare to create a bridge of trust and expertise between you and your prospects.

What Is a Discovery Call In The Sales Process?

A discovery call in sales is the foundational step in the sales discovery process. It is a strategic conversation for unearthing the business challenges and goals, keeping your prospects up at night. It's a practice tailored to elicit valuable insights into the prospect's current situation. You aim to gain a nuanced understanding beyond the surface level. 

During this call, sales representatives listen, probing with crafted questions. The goal is to map out the customer's pain points and aspirations. This initial interaction is not about selling; it's about learning, diagnosing, and discovering. 

By mastering the discovery call, you are an informed partner. You equip yourself to offer tailored solutions that align with your prospect's needs.

Why are sales discovery calls essential?

Sales discovery calls are the first step in cementing a sales opportunity. They are a test for both the potential client and the sales representative to gauge if there's a beneficial match between need and solution. 

This conversation is where initial interest transforms into actionable insights. It enables you to tailor your approach to the specific contours of your prospect's needs. 

By conducting a thorough discovery call, you can determine if your product or service meets the client's needs. You can also agree on a budget and timeline before proceeding further in the sales process

Sales Discovery Call Best Practices

To navigate the complex waters of effective sales discovery calls, you must adhere to best practices. With 85% of prospects unhappy with sales calls, following best practices will steer your conversations toward successful outcomes. You need to have a strategic, well-prepared approach that is empathetic, insightful, and systematic. 

The following discovery call tips are essential strategies used by seasoned sales professionals. They guide the sales dialogue, ensuring that every question asked moves you closer to a beneficial relationship. 

Remember, any good discovery call aims to create a deep and meaningful connection. Your goal is to transform initial curiosity into a lasting commitment.

READ ALSO: How to Talk to Customers? Client Communication Best Practices

1. Research your prospect 

Before the wheels of a discovery call can turn, you need to research your prospect. 

This preparatory step is about crafting a personalized approach. Identify talking points that build rapport. You want to resonate with the other individual's preferences and professional demeanor. 

Look into your prospect's LinkedIn, do a Google search, and check out their background. You don't need to go full-on private investigator but get a sense of who they are. 

Understand their communication style and interests. Engage in a manner that aligns with their expectations, giving you a tangible edge. If they appear on podcasts, listen to how they speak and conduct themselves. Small things like this will blow your competition out of the water. 

But it's not just the person. Know their industry's intricacies, current solutions, and customers. This furnishes you with valuable insights to address your prospect's concerns precisely. 

Reports and case studies from industry leaders are great for industry knowledge. Tour their website for more details on their customers and solutions. 

A great discovery call should feel less like an interrogation and more like a conversation. Leverage your prospect research to grease the conversational wheel. 

2. Ask open-ended questions

Using open-ended questions is a non-negotiable tactic on sales discovery calls. 

What is an open-ended question? It's a question that doesn't force the respondent into a "yes" or "no" answer. Instead of asking, "Does your sales process need to be improved?" ask, "What sales process challenges are you facing?"

Open-ended questions invite a narrative. They create a dialogue that unveils deeper layers of your prospect's situation. 

These types of inquiries encourage the sharing of thoughts and feelings. This leads to a richer, more detailed understanding of the prospect's pain points. 

Open-ended questions unlock the true potential of a discovery call. They transform an introductory call into an exploratory session. This ensures you gather all the information for your pitch to the prospect’s precise circumstances.

3. Use anecdotal stories 

Anecdotal stories help prospects easily understand complex solutions and ideas. You need to position your product or service within a context that feels both familiar and attainable.

Strategically weave these stories into the conversation. Use them to illustrate key points or to highlight how you or another client overcame similar challenges. 

By sharing a brief story during your discovery call, you provide clarity and create an emotional connection. This makes the information more memorable and impactful. Exactly what you need to move the deal forward. 

Anecdotes resonate because they transform abstract concepts into tangible experiences. Prospects relate to this. This approach simplifies complex solutions and bridges the gap between hesitation and commitment.

Prepare a handful of anecdotal stories related to the benefits your product provides so you can use them when needed. 

4. Be genuinely interested in the prospect and their problems 

During sales discovery calls, embodying genuine interest in the prospect and their issues is a fundamental principle. It establishes trust and rapport. 

Take Dale Carnegie's timeless wisdom from "How to Win Friends and Influence People". Carnegie suggests that being genuinely interested in the other person is a key to winning their appreciation and trust. 

Actively listen and show that you are fully engaged. This demonstrates your respect for the prospect's goals and challenges. Such attentiveness in a discovery call ensures the prospect feels heard and valued. It fosters a sense of importance that can be pivotal for the sales relationship. 

As you listen, you gather a wealth of information. This allows you to align your solution with your prospect's specific needs. Your interest transforms a standard sales interaction into a productive and memorable exchange.

5. Reference customer successes 

Invoking customer success stories during a sales discovery call is a game-changer.  They show the contextual efficacy of your product or service. 

This approach allows you to showcase real-world examples. Show how your solutions have resolved problems faced by your prospect. 

Referencing these successes adds credibility and encourages prospects to envision positive outcomes. 

It's a strategy that shifts the narrative from a hypothetical benefit to a proven result. Providing tangible evidence that what you're offering isn't promising—it's performing. 

By sharing these success stories, you affirm the value of your offerings. Also, you connect with the prospect on an aspirational level. This shows a pathway to their success mirrored by your existing customers.

6. Reduce lead response time when scheduling sales discovery calls

Before the first "hello" of a sales discovery call, the race against time has already begun. 

A lead's interest can cool as swiftly as it peaks, making immediate scheduling crucial. 

Leveraging intelligent tools like CallPage, which displays a call prompt based on user-defined scoring rules, ensures you capitalize on the moment of peak interest without delay. 

This automation of inbound calls streamlines your processes. It is vital for reducing lead response time. Long lead response times make or break the transition from interest to engagement. 

By minimizing this window, CallPage helps ensure you greet fresh leads with the prompt attention they demand. This sets the stage for productive discovery calls.

7. Don’t oversell 

In the delicate dance of a sales discovery call, the art of subtlety will set you apart. The goal is to engage and intrigue, not to overwhelm with aggressive sales tactics. 

It's crucial to manage expectations carefully. The purpose of this call is to explore and understand. And push a potential solution promptly. 

Overselling alienates your prospects and clouds your ability to gauge their needs accurately. Focus on the prospect's challenges and how your product or service can meet them. Do not launch into an unsolicited pitch. You need to maintain the integrity of the discovery process. 

This restrained approach ensures that when the time is right, your solution is met with open arms.

8. Make the prospect try and qualify themself 

Reverse the typical sales discovery call dynamic. Subtly getting prospects to qualify themselves is a killer strategy. 

This technique elevates the perceived value of your offerings. It does so because the prospect implicitly acknowledges the worth and exclusivity of your solution. It enhances their desire and involves them in the decision-making process. 

This approach can lead to a more substantial commitment to a future partnership. This is because the prospect has personally invested in qualifying themselves. 

Additionally, it allows you to assess the prospect's level of engagement and seriousness. This ensures that your efforts focus on leads that are more likely to convert. Your sales pipeline is decluttered and streamlined as a result. 

Applying this technique positions your business as a sought-after solution. You create a dynamic where being your customer is both a privilege and a mutual choice.

Examples of Discovery Call Questions In Sales

The questions you ask are the driving force behind finding client pain points and priorities. They guide the later sales strategy. 

The artful crafting of these questions is essential. They must be intelligent enough to reveal the core challenges the prospect is facing. But also open enough to encourage a candid dialogue. 

Here, we will review a list of examples that show what is necessary for effective discovery. 

1. What are your current pain points?

Inquire directly about the challenges your prospect is facing. This sets the stage for a dialogue that is immediately relevant and focused. 

Knowing your prospect’s pain points directs how your service or product can offer relief. It also demonstrates empathy and a genuine desire to solve real issues. 

It’s this initial understanding that forms the cornerstone of trust and lays the groundwork for all future interactions. 

When a prospect articulates their pain points, they give you the keys to their needs. This allows you to tailor your pitch and close more deals. 

This question cuts to the heart of the matter. It aligns your solutions with their most pressing concerns.  This is fundamental for transforming prospects into partners.

2. What are your expectations with this product/service?

In a successful sales discovery call, asking, "What are your expectations with this product/service?" is pivotal for aligning with your prospect's vision of success. 

This question taps into your prospect's mind. It reveals not just what they want to achieve but also their anticipated outcomes from your offering. 

It helps sales reps understand the prospect's benchmarks for satisfaction and their criteria for a worthwhile investment. 

You uncover what the prospect values most. Knowing this allows for a tailored conversation that addresses their expectations head-on. 

The inquiry also sets transparent and expectations-aligned relationships. It's about ensuring both parties progress with a shared goal, increasing the likelihood of a satisfied customer and a closed deal.

3. How do you currently address this problem?

Asking "How do you currently address this problem?" during a successful discovery call is a tactical move that serves multiple purposes. 

This question is integral to the discovery phase because it provides sales reps with a clear understanding of the prospect's current strategies and the gaps within them. 

It offers insight into what has been tried, what's working, and, crucially, what's not. 

This understanding is critical in positioning your product or service as a superior alternative. 

Moreover, it sets the stage for a consultative sales approach. By recognizing the efforts already made, sales calls can transition from a transactional nature to one of guidance and support. 

The response to this question acts as a springboard for deeper discussions. It enables sales professionals to build a case for change grounded in the prospect's experiences. As a result, you create a more informed and strategic sales dialogue.

4. What are the long-term consequences of not addressing the problem?

The question "What are the long-term consequences of not addressing the problem?" is a thought-provoking inclusion in the arsenal of a winning sales discovery call. 

It compels the prospect to consider the immediate challenges and the broader, more impactful repercussions of inaction. This perspective is essential within the sales discovery process as it helps to elevate the conversation from a simple transaction to a strategic decision with far-reaching implications. 

The response garnered here can illuminate the severity of the pain points and the urgency with which they must be resolved. It allows the sales rep to position their product or service as a must-have. 

It prompts the prospect to envision a future without a solution, often highlighting the actual value of what is being offered. This foresight is invaluable because it underscores the potential risks and reinforces the significance of the partnership. 

5. What are the concerns you have with our solution/product?

The question "What are your concerns with our solution/product?" lets you confront and dismantle potential objections head-on. 

In discovery calls, it's not just about extolling the virtues of your product. You need to understand and address any hesitations the prospect has. 

This question signals the prospect that their apprehensions are valid. You need to be confident enough to discuss them openly. 

The insights gained from the responses can guide your sales team in customizing their communication and follow-up strategy. This ensures that you answer current concerns but also preemptively counter future ones. 

It demonstrates a commitment to transparency and a genuine interest in ensuring the prospect feels secure and informed in their decision-making process. 

By inviting this level of candor, the sales team can refine their pitch, build trust, and move the sales conversation forward with a clear understanding of the prospect's perspective.

6. What would a successful outcome look like? 

The question "What would a successful outcome look like?" aims directly at the heart of the prospect’s biggest challenge. 

This inquiry aids in understanding your prospect's pain points and defines success from their perspective. It’s a forward-looking question encouraging prospects to articulate their goals and desired future state. They provide a target for what you must do to win their business. 

This dialogue establishes a shared vision of success. It transforms the sales interaction from a mere pitch into a collaborative effort to achieve a common goal.

7. Do you have any more questions or concerns about our solution/product?

Asking, "Do you have any more questions or concerns about our solution/product?" addresses the prospect's pain point and top priorities. 

This question serves as an open invitation for the prospect to voice any remaining uncertainties. This allows for your sales reps to provide clarifications and reassurances. 

It's an iterative part of the dialogue that can be repeated to ensure the prospect has exhausted all their queries. 

The value of this is twofold. It ensures that the prospect feels heard and understood. Also, it signifies that their concerns are paramount to the sales team. 

This thorough vetting process demonstrates a commitment to the prospect's needs.

By addressing each question, the sales rep removes the prospect’s doubts, allowing you to advance to the next stage of the sales cycle. 

READ ALSO: How to Track Sales Calls Effectively & Why You Need Sales Call Tracking Software

Final Thoughts 

Timing is everything for sales discovery calls. From the timing of your questions to how quickly you can get a lead onto a call. 

With CallPage’s innovative click-to-call and meeting scheduling widget, your sales team can instantly connect for a discovery call when their engagement peaks. 

Ready to revolutionize your response rate and elevate your customer experience? Activate CallPage on your website today and transform your lead engagement strategy.


How do you prepare for a sales discovery call?

To prepare for a sales discovery call, research your prospect. Look at their business, industry, and role. Tailor your approach, and prepare a list of open-ended questions to uncover their pain points and goals. Review any previous interactions with your prospect. Doing this ensures a seamless and informed conversation that builds rapport.

What goes into a discovery call?

A discovery call is a strategic conversation. It involves sales reps asking targeted, open-ended questions. to uncover the prospect's needs, challenges, and goals. It often involves discussing how the product or service can address specific pain points. It's a listening exercise for the sales rep. It's an opportunity for the prospect to explore potential solutions and benefits.

What makes a good discovery session?

A good discovery session is characterized by the ability to ask insightful questions. This leads to a deep understanding of the prospect's challenges and goals. Pair that with active listening to ensure the prospect feels heard and valued. It’s successful when it ends with a clear direction for a solution that aligns with all parties involved. 



Author Bio 

Julian Lankstead is the founder of JulianLankstead.com. He helps businesses increase revenue by providing strategies to improve business process efficiency. 

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