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Are you still using old discovery call questions?

4 min readMay 23, 2019

Every sales department has a standard list of discovery call questions they use to weed out disqualified leads and reveal their true buyers. Most commonly, the questions fall in line with their particular lead qualification framework, and cover factors like challenges, purchasing authority, budget, and decision-making process.

The problem is that nearly every SDR uses the same questions. If your buyers are speaking with multiple companies or competitors during their purchase process, they’ve heard your qualification questions so many times they could answer them in their sleep. But, you can’t let your prospects sleepwalk their way through your qualification questions.

For too long, discovery call questions have been regarded as just a small, standard gesture that is the start of a sales process. Standard questions receive standard, boilerplate answers. But, you can leverage non-traditional, outside the box questions to get real answers, increase engagement, and get your prospects excited about working with you.

Step 1: Do research

Every successful sales rep knows that they should do research prior to each call. Discovery calls are no exception. Your research should be a thorough attempt to answer your more basic discovery call questions on your own. The knowledge you’ve gained will allow you to ask deeper, more pertinent questions once on the call. Plus, it will be obvious that you’ve prepared by asking only the most necessary questions and will provide time to dig deeper without lengthening the call.

Step 2: Start where the prospect is

With all the intelligence gathered in your CRM, you should be able to see what information and products your prospect is interested in. You may even be able to see where they are within their buyer’s journey. Focus your efforts around the particular information your prospect as shown interest in, in order to keep it as relevant as possible.

Step 3: Ask the right questions

A reference list of questions is a good idea to keep you on track. But, don’t treat it like a checklist and race through them. You don’t want prospects to simply recite the same answers they’ve shared with other reps before you. Instead, use your prepared questions as a guide and ask them in a way that causes your prospect to think, dig deeper and provide more details. This will engage them and allow you to actually have a conversation with them instead of an interrogation that resembles the other discovery calls they have experienced. You will stand out from the crowd when you do, building trust and credibility.

What to ask

You want this call to feel like a natural conversation so you shouldn’t ask “yes” or “no” question that make the prospect feel like you’re working through a checklist. Open-ended questions get the potential customer talking, reveal more about their issues and make it easier to get to the core of their challenges. This type of exchange becomes a discussion – a real exchange. You’ll gain the insights you need while demonstrating your professionalism and preparedness while developing a relationship with your prospect. You can use questions like:

To identify challenges

  • How have you tried solving the problem so far?

To define budget, authority, and timeline

  • Who else is facing these problems
  • Do you already have budget allocated? How much would you like to invest
  • How do you feel about the way we compare with other competitors
  • When do you imagine yourself implementing this solution?

Step 4: Listen – Don’t think ahead

As with any engaging conversation, you should listen intently to your prospect’s responses. Once they’re done, don’t launch into your next question. Your best course of action is to request more details around the information they shared with you. For example, if they just told you that their challenge relates to achieving a particular metric in the sales process, you should dig deeper by following up with a related question. This demonstrates that you are listening, interested, and that you actually want to understand what their challenges are. Plus, it will help you get to where they feel pain. This information is gold when it comes to advancing and closing sales. It also aids in determining if your solution will actually solve their problem.

Step 5: Confirm understanding

As you uncover key information throughout the call, be sure to confirm what you’re learning to avoid missteps down the line. And, when the prospect demonstrates emotions, show empathy by saying something like, “It sounds like you’re frustrated by X” and make sure you aren’t misreading what they’re communicating.

Leverage these tips to customize your discovery calls for each prospect. Doing so will help you build trust, more effectively qualify prospects and gain deeper insights while differentiating yourself from the competition.