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20 questions to ask on your next sales discovery call

Last updated

20 March 2024


Dovetail Editorial Team

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The sales process has many individual elements ranging from prospecting and customer research to nurturing the relationship after the deal is closed. However, one of the most important parts is what takes place early in the process: a sales discovery call.

A sales discovery call is your chance to learn everything you can about your potential client’s needs and goals and to build a strong rapport.

Depending on the success of your sales discovery call, you may be able to move forward with your prospect. If your call is successful, you’ll eventually land a sale and establish a mutually beneficial business relationship. If the call is unsuccessful, your prospect may decide to look elsewhere.

During your sales discovery call, you’ll ask a number of questions, all designed to help you better understand your prospect’s needs. By preparing your sales discovery questions in advance, you’ll be well-prepared to make a positive impression and eventually grow more revenue for your organization.

The sales discovery questions in this article will help you get ahead of the competition and learn about your client so that you can focus on your budding business relationship.

What is a sales discovery call?

A sales discovery call is an initial phone or video call with a potential customer after they have expressed interest in your services. The call aims to establish your potential customer’s goals and build a connection with them. The questions will help you understand your prospect better and reveal whether or not your company is a good fit for their needs.

Why are discovery calls important?

Discovery calls set the tone for the entire sales relationship that follows. Often, a prospect will decide whether to continue the relationship after the first few minutes of the call.

Making a positive impression is vital. You’ll want to strike an authoritative tone but still excel at active listening, responding appropriately to every one of your prospect’s pain points and unique goals.

The sales discovery call should also show your prospect that you are invested in their success. You should be able to provide insight into exactly how your products and services can benefit them. Ideally, you’ll be able to capture their interest and shine a light on the unique nature of your company’s offerings.

Sales discovery calls shouldn’t be interrogations. Aim to provide a participatory experience that allows all parties involved to build a connection and, hopefully, a bridge to a lucrative business relationship.

20 sales discovery question examples to inspire your next call

There are few hard and fast rules for sales discovery calls, but you should tweak them before every call to reflect what you know about your client’s wants and needs.

Still, they should always be open-ended and client-focused. You should be able to tie the responses to the questions back into your products and services without making the call feel like a high-pressure sales pitch.

Sales discovery calls have four parts:

  1. Setting the stage

  2. Qualifying the prospect

  3. Disqualifying the prospect

  4. Outlining the next steps

Every step is important and plays a role in helping you better understand the client.

The following discovery questions for sales will help you get the wheels turning as you develop a template for your own organization.

Questions that set the stage

These questions serve as a primer for the rest of the call. They should reference what you already know about the prospect’s needs based on any recruiting material or research that you have already done.

These questions also give you an opportunity to learn more about what the potential client does for their company.

  1. Tell me about your company.

  2. Can you tell me about your role within the company?

  3. How does your company measure performance?

  4. What does success look like to you?

  5. What metrics are you responsible for?

Allow this stage of the discovery call to flow organically. If something doesn’t feel natural or comfortable for the client, move on to the next question.

Questions that qualify

The goal of the qualifying stage of the sales discovery call is to learn more about the business challenges your prospect faces and their goals for the organization.

These questions will encourage deeper conversation and help you better understand the jobs to be done.

  1.  Tell me about your company’s main strengths and weaknesses.

  2. What are your business’s top priorities?

  3. How have you already tried to solve this issue?

  4. What’s your ideal outcome for this situation?

  5. What’s your timeline for making a decision?

Understand that not every prospect will feel comfortable sharing in-depth information about their company’s strengths and weaknesses, even if they previously reached out to you directly seeking information. Be sensitive in your questioning and listen without judgment.

Questions that disqualify

Not every prospect is a good fit for your organization. The disqualification process is part of overall customer discovery. It’s your opportunity to dig deeper and learn more about what the prospect envisions for the project, including budgeting and implementation.

You’ll want to be sure that the venture won’t waste anyone’s time and resources. These questions might disqualify your prospect but they can also offer unique insight into the decision process.

  1. What roadblocks do you envision with this plan?

  2. What is the timeline for implementation?

  3. What is the budget for solving this problem?

  4. Whose budget does the funding come from?

  5. What does the rest of your team think about this plan?

While this stage can disqualify the prospect if they’re not a good fit, it can also unveil some potentially troubling outcomes for the prospect, forcing them to think about what might happen if they don’t find a solution to their issue. It can create a sense of urgency and motivate them to take action.

Questions that establish next steps

Getting your prospect to the finish line should be the end goal of every sales discovery call. These questions allow you to offer the solution to your prospect’s problem and outline the next steps so they know what to expect in the days ahead.

  1. Is there anyone else involved in the decision-making process?

  2. Have you ever purchased a similar product or solution?

  3. How can I help make this process easier for you?

  4. If you implement our solution, how do you hope things will be easier in the future?

  5. When can I follow up with you?

End your discovery call by providing your prospect with a clear outline of what the next steps look like. If that includes a written proposal or recap, give them an idea of when you will send that to them.

Before you hang up, do your best to schedule a follow-up call to keep things moving in the pipeline.

What to know about the sales discovery process

As important as the sales discovery call is, your preparation is equally vital.

You’ll need to do a deep dive into the prospect and their company before you hop on a call, enabling you to ask effective questions and get an accurate idea of the prospect’s concerns and needs.

Spend as much time as you can researching the business itself, including how it started and any history of engagement with your company. This information can inform your sales discovery questions and give you much-needed overall insight.

You should also keep a picture of your ideal customer in mind as you prepare for the call. This can help clarify whether your products or services are actually a good fit for the prospect and give you a better idea of their pain points and desires.

Finally, always be prepared to connect your solutions to the prospect’s needs. While the discovery call shouldn’t serve as an overt sales pitch, the goal is always to establish a business relationship and sell your product.

How to manage a sales discovery call

Preparing and planning for your sales discovery call

A sales discovery call should feel open and engaging, but behind the scenes, it needs to be well-planned and executed.

Beyond researching your prospect, create an outline for the call and send the agenda to them beforehand. This gives them the chance to add additional talking points if they want to.

Opening the sales discovery call

Adopt a conversational tone when you open the call. Ask how their week is going or any other relevant questions that might help the prospect feel relaxed and comfortable.

During the call opening, you’ll set the stage by briefly recapping the agenda and asking if the prospect has any questions before diving in.

Navigate the sales call by starting with discovery questions to understand the prospect’s needs, actively listening, and offering tailored solutions. Address their concerns transparently, showcasing value propositions.

Build rapport, maintain clarity, and guide the conversation toward a mutually beneficial outcome with confidence and empathy.

Summarizing and concluding the call

After working through the sales discovery questions and resolving any initial queries the prospect may have, summarize the conversation and confirm any next steps. These might include writing out a proposal or scheduling a follow-up call.

Handling objections and taking notes

Anticipate any objections or concerns along the way, and keep the conversation flowing as best you can. It’s also a good idea to take notes during your call, as you’ll be able to refer back to them later.

Recording the sales discovery call

If you are new to discovery calls or if you want to get better at keeping the conversation going, consider recording the call. Always ask your prospect if they are happy for the call to be recorded.

Tips for discovery calls

From asking the right sales discovery questions to doing enough research before a call, there are many ways to streamline your discovery calls and make them effective at landing clients and building strong relationships.

By investing thoughtfully in discovery call planning, preparation, and execution, you’ll grow more revenue for your company and become a strong leader in company initiatives. Follow the tips below for improvement:

  • Confirm that your prospect understands a point before moving on. Clear communication can be challenging, especially if you encounter any technical difficulties (such as a glitchy video feed or internet concerns), so always take time to clarify anything that the prospect seems uncertain about before moving on to a new question or topic.

  • Practice active listening. Although a discovery call’s main goal is to make a sale by highlighting your products and services, you should listen more than you speak. Listen with real interest and never interrupt while your prospect is speaking.

  • Connect with your prospect throughout the call. Making a human connection with a prospect can endear them to you and help establish a strong relationship. Throughout your sales discovery call, when appropriate, look for moments to relate to your prospect. For example, you might discuss shared interests, family information, or commiseration over weather woes.

  • Add value when you can. While you obviously want to land a sale, by establishing yourself as a helpful source of information and solutions, you’ll help the prospect see you as a true expert in your industry. Offering small suggestions and solutions throughout the call can help you achieve this, leaving the prospect with a positive overall impression.


What’s the best way to prepare for a sales discovery call?

The single best way to prepare for a sales discovery call is to try to understand your prospect’s needs by researching their company. This, alongside well-prepared sales discovery questions, will equip you to answer any questions your prospect may have.

What is a discovery checklist?

A discovery checklist is a list of questions you can include in your sales discovery call. The questions are designed to help you identify what your prospect needs to improve and where there are areas of opportunity. It can also ensure that your call is going in the right direction and help boost a prospect to the next stage in the sales pipeline.

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