Discovery questions aren't just the first part of the sales process. It’s often the most critical part of the sales cycle. Here, sales reps uncover information they can use to improve and personalize the buyer journey. It’s also the time when they can qualify leads, separate the wheat from the chaff, and ensure they focus their time and energy on the prospects most likely to convert.
But they can only do an excellent job if they ask the right questions.
Sales discovery questions help reps find out more about the prospect, their pain points, and their willingness to find a potential solution. The better their questions, the more easily they’ll be able to qualify and prioritize prospects.
There are a variety of different sales models to choose from, but not all of them are created equal. Depending on your business model, your industry, and your strengths, one may work better than another. It’s crucial for you to pick the model that’ll make the biggest impact on your sales performance.
If you’ve identified issues with your discovery process or want to improve your team's performance, this article will help. We list 15 sales discovery questions your team probably isn't using and explain a tried and tested framework so they can create their own, and master the art of closing deals.
Sales discovery questions are simply the questions that sales reps use during their first few conversations with prospects. This stage of the sales process is called the discovery phase — hence “sales discovery” questions.
The goal of sales discovery questions is to find out more about each prospect. Reps either want to qualify their leads or disqualify them so as not to waste more time. You can store your sales questions in your playbook.
Reps don’t have to ask all of their questions in one go. That could be rather full on, even for the most engaging and in-depth of sales calls.
Realistically, a sales discovery call shouldn’t last more than 30 minutes. But that doesn’t stop sales reps from having more discovery calls if they think the prospect is worth their time.
If you carefully analyze the questions below, you’ll notice that most of them include the same elements. That’s by design. While you want each question to uncover new information, they should all be phrased in a way that encourages the prospect to provide a detailed answer while strengthening the bond between the prospect and the sales rep.
In particular, almost every sales discovery question will have the following elements:
Want to take your reps’ performance to the next level? Have them ask these questions during discovery:
These two questions, which you can ask as a single question if you like, are a great way to get the prospect talking about themselves while finding out about them and their company in their own words.
It’s also a chance for your reps to work out what level the prospect is within the company, what their current process looks like, whether they are likely to be a decision-maker, or whether they’ll need to get a sign-off from someone else.
This is arguably the most important question your reps will ask. Because the prospect is taking the time to speak with you, you know there’s a good chance they have a problem they’re trying to solve. Your rep’s job is to find out exactly what their biggest challenge is.
Your reps need to understand the prospect’s pain points and their sales objections to see if your product or service can realistically solve them. They can disqualify the rep almost immediately if they know it won't.
If the prospect has tried a competitor previously or even has a current solution that isn’t working, it will be important for your reps to understand it. This will help them frame your product in a more positive light and show how you can succeed where others have failed.
The purpose of this question is to get potential customers to think carefully about exactly how they are suffering as a result of their problem. This can be personal, like the day-to-day stress they suffer with this hanging over them or how the business is struggling.
This is the prospect’s worst-case scenario, and asking this question forces them to face it head-on. It makes the prospect articulate exactly what will happen while also encouraging them to take action.
It is important to give prospects hope. By asking this question, sales reps can encourage their prospect to imagine how things will get better once they’ve solved this problem and how it will improve their standing within the company.
It’s unlikely the prospect is alone in suffering from their problem. Asking who else in their company cares will help your reps understand the company’s structure and other potential decision-makers.
Your reps will want to make a note of all these people in your CRM.
Budget is the first (and arguably most important) part of the BANT framework for qualifying prospects. If prospects don’t have a budget for your solution, they probably aren’t going to make a purchase.
Ideally, the prospect will have a definitive budget set aside. In a perfect world, they’ll have to sign off on spending that budget, too.
Purchases can be incredibly complex, with processes that can be difficult for outsiders to understand. This question helps your sales reps understand the company’s buying process by using a concrete example. They’ll quickly work out who they need to talk to and what they need to do to get a deal across the line.
It’s important for both your reps and your prospects to know what success looks like. This question can help define it for the prospect if they haven’t done so already. But it can also help the prospect visualize how good it will be to solve their problem. The second half of it will also help reps get an idea of timeframes.
Reps need to gauge whether their prospect’s problem is a priority, and this question is perfect for doing so. If the prospect lists a series of other problems, your reps can assume they have a keen interest in finding a solution fast.
In order to position your product as an effective solution, it’s important for reps to understand the decision-making process. Reps can go as far as asking if the company has written criteria for choosing vendors and whether there are certain conditions they’ll have to meet.
There’s probably a good reason the prospect hasn’t solved their problem yet. This is your reps’ chance to find out why. It’s also an opportunity to understand the kind of objections they are likely to face from the prospect and other decision-makers in the company.
Sometimes, obstacles will seem insurmountable, and reps may want to put the prospect on the back burner.
Your reps need to make sure they’ve got the right takeaways from the conversation. This question achieves just that. You’ll note this is one of the only discovery call questions that aren’t open-ended, and that’s because the rep will be doing most of the talking here. They’ll give a summary of the prospect’s pain points and ask them to confirm whether they are correct.
Before your reps go to the trouble of nurturing a prospect and putting together a detailed proposal, they should understand what hurdles they will need to overcome. Does the client have a budget? Do they need senior sign-off? This question acts as a catch-all and should get to the bottom of any potential objections.
A great sales discovery call isn’t just about asking the right questions. Here are some other ways your sales reps can improve:
Having a proper conversation with a prospect is great. Being able to tell a story is even better. The best sellers are able to weave a narrative through their discovery call, providing examples to prospects that show how they’ve solved similar problems for previous clients.
Reps have a lot of things to do and a lot of information to take in during the discovery call. It is easy to forget something. That’s why having a sales playbook on hand can be so useful.
A sales playbook highlights the actions reps need to take and the discovery call questions they need to ask on a discovery call, ensuring that they cover everything. Bonus points if you can incorporate playbook functionality into your CRM so reps have everything they need right in front of them, like we do at TigerLRM.
One of the easiest ways reps can make sure their discovery call goes well is by contacting prospects at the right time. Very early in the morning or late in the afternoon are two of the best times to call prospects.
Reps should be mindful of their prospect’s time, too. Calls should be kept to a reasonably short (and pre-agreed) timeframe. Remember, they can always have another call in a week if they think the prospect is a good fit.
If your reps are going to the trouble of asking all these questions, then they better make sure they are listening to the responses. In fact, reps should be listening more than they are speaking.
This will ensure reps aren’t telling the prospect about their product, but rather listening to the problems the prospect is having. The more reps listen, the more they will learn and the better they will be able to personalize a solution. Remember, the discovery call is not a sales pitch.
If you’re looking for even more inspiration for sales questions, check out our other in-depth article.
Asking the right questions is just one part of the sales discovery process. You also need to have a CRM to manage the data your reps generate from each call and a sales enablement service that helps reps understand where they are going wrong and how to improve.
TigerLRM helps with everything. Our free CRM is the perfect, no-nonsense way to record and track prospects throughout the funnel. And our sales enablement service helps busy sales managers unlock more value from their sales teams.
To assign a sales enablement user, simply go to Administrator > User Management > Edit User.
Once you are on the user's information, you can select if you want them to be "Non-Admin," "Admin," or part of the "Enablement Team." Save this information, and your desired user will have the right access.You can access your Dashboard here.