11 Sales Discovery Call Questions You Should Be Asking

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David Scott
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11 Sales Discovery Call Questions You Should Be Asking

Your initial discovery call or product demo with prospects is one of the best opportunities to convince someone you're the right partner to help them solve their problem.

It's a chance to:

  • Show off why your solution is a fit for them
  • Build a good relationship with your prospect
  • Learn what triggers will push someone to purchase
  • Find out if you can upsell them to a higher plan

Asking as many (good) questions as you can is a perfect way to quickly learn everything about someone's pain points, motivations, and purchase timeline.

Why You Should Be Asking Questions

The questions will help you, but that's not why you should be asking them.

Good questions will help guide your leads towards a decision, and help clarify if they're a good fit for your solution or not.

Considering about 50% of your prospects won't be a good fit for your solution anyway, your discovery call will act as a good filter.

It's also a great moment to position yourself and your company as a trusted authority in your industry.

19% of buyers actively want to connect with a salesperson during the initial awareness stage of the sales funnel, so they're going to have questions.

Not everyone is going to be a fit, but if you're holding discovery calls with prospects who are eager to learn about your solution, there's definitely going to be some that match your ideal customer profile.

Always remember that your sales discovery call questions are there not just to help you, but to help your prospect make a decision.

Approach your calls with that in mind, and you're going to see great results.

Next, let's take a look at some tried and tested sales discovery call questions that will help you sell more effectively.

11 Sales Discovery Call Questions to Help You Sell More Effectively

What's going on in your business right now?

This question is a great one to start your sales call with.

It’s open-ended, you’ll get your prospect talking, and can take notes on what they do and learn why they’re in the market.

It's not uncommon for someone to talk for several minutes when this question is asked, and you can learn things about their business you hadn't even thought about.

Because most people are happy to talk about themselves and their business, it’s a perfect way to get someone comfortable talking with you on your discovery call.

Why are you in the market at the moment?

Most discovery calls happen when someone is already solution-aware, and they should have a good idea of what your business is going to help them with.

That said, it never hurts to know the reasons they’re looking to buy.

You might find out that they’re actually not looking to make a final decision for six months, and you can adapt your discovery call and follow-up emails accordingly.

Did you use another vendor/solution prior to contacting us?

Some customers may be in the process of switching away from a competitor.

Their existing tools may have become too expensive, lacked features, or simply fell short of their expectations.

This discovery call question will help you approach your conversation in a way that’s understanding of their situation.

If they're looking to switch from a competitor you can tailor your value proposition to their needs and show why your solution will be an improvement.

Who else is involved in the purchase decision?

We’ve all had those discovery calls that felt like they went great, but once your prospect hangs up, you never hear from them again.

It’s not uncommon, and it’s (probably) nothing personal.

People are busy, and maybe this decision isn’t a priority for them.

But, as a sales rep, you can't afford to regularly have leads fall out of the sales funnel with no indication of whether someone will get back to you.

To help avoid that, ask who else is involved in the decision-making process. If your prospect doesn't reply to your follow-up emails, you could then reach out to the other person involved in the decision.

I'd recommend being careful with how you follow up, though. Never make your prospect feel like you're trying to go around them, or make them look bad to people inside their company.

If you regularly have multiple calls with leads before they become a customer, you could also take some time to research the other people involved on LinkedIn.

If you connect with them on social, or over email, by the time you have your next call, you'll already be a familiar face.

What happens if you don't use our solution?

Sometimes, your solution may be something ‘nice-to-have’ for your prospect.

Other times, it might be essential for their success.

Asking your prospect a question like: "What will you do if you don't use our solution" will help you figure out what that alternative situation looks like.

If it means they’ll go to a competitor instead, you could consider offering a discount if they sign up within two weeks.

If the alternative is to do nothing, you can nurture them with educational content, and keep reminding them of the benefits of your solution to them.

This question is a good way for yourself, and for your prospect to learn what the alternative looks like. In some cases, your prospect won’t have thought of this beforehand, and it’s a great way to build confidence in your solution being the best option.

What's wrong with your existing solution to this problem?

This question will help you understand exactly why you’re having this discovery call in the first place.

It’s a chance for your prospect to outline why they need help with a specific problem, and what they need from the solution.

Once you know what parts of their existing system they’re not happy with, you can highlight how your solution can fill in the gaps and help them get their job done more easily.

When do you need to make a decision by?

This is a great sales discovery question because it will give you a clear picture of their timeline.

Some prospects won’t have a set date to make a decision, but others may be looking to decide within a few weeks.

If you know there's a time-limit on their decision, you can adapt your sales approach accordingly and aim to close the deal faster.

I'll follow up with you on {{date}}, does that work?

Don’t leave future communications between you and your prospects to chance.

They should be expecting you to follow up. If you want to improve your follow-up reply rate, you should be letting them know you're going to be in touch.

When they see your name in their inbox, they’ll be happy to reply.

If you haven’t asked this question before, it might feel slightly pushy. But in reality, it’s what your prospects expect.

They want you to care about winning their business, and agreeing a date you’ll follow-up on gives them a timeframe to make their own decision internally.

If you don’t let them know what date you’ll follow up with them on, they won’t be as eager to open up your next email.

What does a successful outcome look like for you?

This question is golden. It acts as the frame for all future interactions you have with your leads and customers.

You’ll be able to work backwards from their ideal outcome to show how your product or service can help them achieve their desired results.

What alternative solutions are you exploring?

This question does two things. Firstly, you find out what other solutions your prospects are aware of and looking at. Second, you’re carrying out free competitive research.

It’ll help you learn more about the market and new competitors who pop up, and your team will be able to adapt accordingly.

You can also provide honest advice about whether competing companies may be a better fit.

For example, if someone is looking at a solution that’s far lower cost than yours, you’ll have an indication that that prospect may not be a good fit for your business.

On the other hand, if they're looking at solutions that are direct competitors with a similar offering, you know your prospect is likely to be a good fit.

Are there are reasons you might put this decision on hold for now?

This question will help you put yourself in your prospects’ shoes and understand why they might hit pause on your discussions.

You can prepare for future roadblocks to ensure they don’t become a reality.

For example, if your prospect tells you that their boss may not approve the decision, then you could make an effort to schedule a call with your prospect and their boss, to help get the key decision-maker on your side.

There will always be factors that you can’t control, but you’ll be able to control what you can.

Ask Better Questions, Close More Deals

You should never get off a call feeling like you didn’t get all of the information you needed from a prospect.

Use these open-ended questions to guide your sales discovery calls, and find information that you wouldn’t get otherwise.

There's no such thing as too many questions in a sales call, but always be aware of your prospects' time.

If your call was scheduled for a 30-minute time slot, then stick to it. Even if you don’t get to ask all of your questions, your prospect will leave feeling like you understand their problem, and are hopefully the right person to help them solve it.

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