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A Strategic Guide to Nailing your Next Discovery Call

Posted in:  Sales and Marketing Management

In sales, building relationships is one of the keys to succeeding, just ask best-selling author Jeffrey Gitomer.

“​​Great salespeople are relationship builders who provide value and help their customers win.”

A great client relationship increases retention, boosts sales, and strengthens your competitive edge. But how do you create a strong relationship with a prospect? It starts with a simple, yet complex discovery phone call.

As a sales rep, you’re probably spending less than 30% of your time selling, and when nearly half of your prospects aren’t a good fit for what you’re offering, it’s crucial that you use a discovery call to vet whether there is a relationship worth continuing.

So, what are the best ways to ensure that your discovery call makes an impact, has a lasting impression, and ultimately qualifies your lead for the next stage in the sales process? Stay with us!

In this blog, you will learn how to successfully prepare for a call, ask the right questions, leverage technology for in-depth coaching, and a lot more.

So if you’re ready to build lasting relationships and crush quota, you’re in the right place. And it all starts with a discovery call.

What is a Discovery Call?

The discovery call is an initial interaction between a sales rep and a potential client who has shown interest in the company. This conversation should uncover needs, objectives, and challenges. The goal is to establish a relationship with the prospect, qualify if they’re a good fit, and understand how the product you’re selling can help solve their specific pain points.

Pro Tip: When preparing for a discovery call, consider applying the SPIN (situation, problem, implication, need-payoff) selling methodology to help sales professionals focus on buyer challenges rather than the product they sell. This will help guide the call with situation questions before problem questions.

The Difference Between a Discovery Call and a Cold Call

While both are tools in a sales rep’s arsenal, discovery and cold calls serve different purposes. A cold call is typically the first call, without prior interaction, to introduce and gauge interest. On the other hand, a sales discovery call takes place after a prospect shows interest by interacting with content or registering for a webinar.

The discovery call tends to be more in-depth. It focuses on understanding the prospect’s pain points and specific needs. The sales rep offers a more targeted and informed approach than the broad scope of a cold call.

The Importance of Discovery Calls

Discovery calls act as one of the first interactions a buyer has with your brand. Surely a buyer has expressed interest in what you’re offering, but this will be the first time they speak to a rep, and impressions matter. These calls allow sales reps to understand prospect needs and identify real sales opportunities. By qualifying or disqualifying prospects early on, sales reps save valuable time and resources, conserving efforts for viable leads.

More than just the first impression, discovery calls move customer relationships forward, creating personalized sales interactions. This improves overall customer satisfaction and increases the likelihood of closing deals by aligning solutions directly with the customer’s articulated and observed needs.

Experienced sales reps often understand the importance of qualifying opportunities early. This helps create a realistic rather than inflated pipeline. Understanding the business problem, how it’s managed today, if there is leadership support for a solution, and getting a meaningful next step on the calendar is essential early in the sales cycle.

How to Prepare for a Successful Discovery Call

discovery call process

The discovery process requires research, planning, commitment to a conversation, and timely follow-up. These calls allow sales reps to begin a relationship based on understanding the prospect and their business initiatives.

Getting ready for a discovery call? Follow these tips to show up well-informed and ready to engage:

Do your Homework

Before you dial, spend time researching your prospect. Understand their industry, role, and recent company news to make your call relevant and personalized. Use their company website and platforms like LinkedIn to gather intel and prepare appropriate questions and connection points, improving your chances of a productive discussion and building a relationship.

Be Prepared to Handle Objections

There will always be roadblocks during the sales process. Understand common concerns that prospects in your industry may have and prepare responses addressing them while highlighting your solution’s benefits. The most common objections include:

  • Lack of budget
  • Lack of need
  • Lack of trust
  • Lack of urgency

Turn the objections into an opportunity to understand the buyer further and be their trusty source of information. If you listen close enough, a question or objection is the buyer telling you how to solve their problem.

Plan Ahead with a Succinct Agenda

Organize your upcoming call by setting an agenda that outlines the discussion topics. You will set the stage, keep the conversation on track, and show respect for the prospect’s time. Share this agenda with all stakeholders before the call so everyone is prepared.

Pro Tip: Be prepared to speak about 50% of the time. Adjust your agenda accordingly and leave time at the end to button things up.

Leverage Sales Playbooks

Utilize sales playbooks that outline techniques tailored to different types of prospects, industries, and scenarios. These can provide seller guidance that enhances your ability to connect with the prospect and successfully manage the call.

Plan your Sales Pitch

While the primary goal of a discovery call is to listen, prepare to share your product’s value proposition when appropriate. Tailor your sales pitch based on your research, emphasizing aspects of your product that directly address the prospect’s industry and needs.

Download Now: Sales Pitch Checklist

Prepare Questions that Align with the Buyer’s Journey

Develop a list of open-ended questions encouraging the prospect to talk openly about their business. These questions should explore their day-to-day processes. Here’s how you can frame these questions during your discovery call.

  • Could you share a brief overview of your company and the focus of your business?
  • What are your primary responsibilities, and what does a typical day look like?
  • What specific goals are you aiming to achieve in the short term and long term?
  • Can you describe your current challenges and how they impact your business and day-to-day operations?
  • How do you envision a successful resolution to your current challenges?
  • What potential obstacles do you foresee that could prevent the implementation of a solution?
  • Have you allocated a budget for this initiative, and if so, what pricing are you considering?
  • What is your ideal timeline for implementing a solution, and when do you need to see results?
  • Have you implemented similar solutions in the past, and if so, what has been your experience?
  • What changes or improvements do you expect a year after implementing our solution?
  • What will your business have if you don’t achieve the desired outcomes?
  • What is the decision-making process and who are the decision-makers in your organization?
  • How can I assist you in making the evaluation and implementation process as smooth as possible?

These questions open a dialogue that informs you about the prospect’s needs. You’ll build a relationship based on genuine interest by listening carefully and responding in kind.

Discovery Call Script

This step-by-step discovery call script ensures sales reps have a starting point with important questions. It also helps the entire sales team maintain brand consistency and professionalism.

Sales Rep: Hi [Prospect’s Name], this is [Your Name] from [Your Company]. How are you today? I hope I’m catching you at a good time.

Prospect: [Response]

Sales Rep: Thanks for chatting! I’d love to address any questions and hear more about your goals.

If we find a good fit, we can schedule a time with one of our account executives. If it’s not the right match, no hard feelings at all. Sound good?

Prospect: [Response]

Sales Rep: Just out of curiosity, what brought you to us? Was it something like our recent whitepaper, one of our demos, or maybe a webinar you attended?

Prospect: [Response]

Sales Rep: Interesting, thanks for sharing that. Can you tell me about some of the business issues you’ve been running into lately?

Prospect: [Describes problems]

Sales Rep: I see. That sounds challenging. Will you go into a little more detail for me? How long has this been going on? What solutions have you already tried, and how did those work out? Also, how big of an issue is this for your team, and why is tackling it now so important?

Prospect: [Provides details]

Sales Rep: It sounds like you have some tools and processes in place. What’s stopping you from continuing to leverage those resources to address your issues?

Prospect: [Provides details]

Sales Rep: Thanks for opening up about that—it sounds like these are pressing issues. We are just about out of time, but I think it’s worth looking at how we can help. I would be a terrible salesperson if I didn’t lock in a time to really get into the nitty-gritty?

[If prospect is hesitant or unsure] No worries at all. I appreciate your honesty today. Who else on your team is part of this initiative? What’s happening in their world that makes this a priority? Can you think of anything that would prevent them from moving forward?

[If Prospect is interested] Fantastic! Do you have your calendar handy? Let’s schedule a detailed discussion with our account executive next week—it usually takes about an hour. What day works best for you?

I’ll send a calendar invite and a summary of our discussion today. If there’s anything not right, feel free to let me know. Does this plan work for you?

Prospect: [Response]

Sales Rep: Great, [Prospect’s Name]. Thanks again for your time today and for sharing your story. I am looking forward to our next steps. Enjoy the rest of your day!

How to Run an Effective Discovery Call

You’ve prepared and you have your script ready. Now, it’s time to host the discovery call. This step can set the tone for the entire sales relationship. Here’s how to conduct this call like an expert.

Set a Clear Agenda with Goals and Stick to the Schedule

The key to a great discovery call is to start by setting the stage with a clear agenda. A study by Harvard Business Review shows that reps should set goals and agendas before the meeting even begins and ask for feedback. Be sure to communicate the purpose of the call and what you hope to achieve. This way, both parties know what to expect. This shows respect for the prospect’s time, establishing professionalism from the start.

Record your Call

Consider using platforms that offer conversational intelligence, call recording, transcription, and pattern detection capabilities. These tools help you review calls, pinpoint areas for improvement, and detect conversation patterns. Recording calls ensures you don’t miss details and provides coaching opportunities, as well as a reference to better tailor your follow-up.

Have a Two-Way Conversation

Discovery calls should be dialogues, not monologues. Encourage the prospect to share their thoughts. This helps build rapport and provides valuable details about their pain points and goals. Active listening leads to more meaningful conversations that can guide the sales cycle.

  • Avoid asking yes/no questions
  • Make the call conversational and not robotic
  • Validate the prospect’s pain points

Listen Actively

Active listening is a crucial sales skill that dramatically impacts organizational outcomes like job performance, trust, and relationship quality. According to Kluger and Itzchakov (2022), it creates a “state of togetherness,” enhancing clarity, creativity, and mutual trust in conversations. This deepens connections and improves problem-solving, making discovery calls more valuable and developing genuine relationships with prospects.

Related: 17 Essential Sales Skills Every Rep Needs to Succeed

Focus on Qualification over Process-Based Questions

Prioritize questions that help you qualify the prospect’s readiness and ability to proceed with your solution. This saves time and resources by focusing on prospects who are more likely to convert.

Ask Discovery Questions Until you Fully Understand the Prospect

Ask open-ended questions, rather than yes/no questions, to get the prospect talking about their real needs and challenges. Ask about their current processes, obstacles, and what good looks like. Tailor your questions based on your research.

Connect your Solution to the Prospect’s Goals

Now that you understand their objectives, talk about how your solution aligns with them. This connection personalizes the conversation and enhances the perceived value of your offering, making it more relevant to the prospect’s unique circumstances.

Pro Tip: Consider using a product demo late in the discovery call. Nearly 50% of prospects want to see how your product works on the first call. But don’t be overeager to showcase the product. Use your agenda and goal-setting time to see if this aligns with their goals.

Build Trust with Social Proof

Use testimonials, case studies, reviews, and data from customers to build credibility and trust. These success stories reassure prospects about your solution’s reliability. According to Gartner, 85% of businesses find verified reviews crucial in their purchase decisions, highlighting the power of social proof.

Inform Potential Customers of the Next Steps

After discussing their needs and how your product can help, outline the next steps. These should be meaningful next steps, not just checking a box. Whether scheduling another call, sending additional information, or arranging a demo, ensure that the prospect knows what to expect. This recap at the end of the call keeps the sales process moving.

Prepare a Digital Sales Room

Once you’ve had your discovery call, be sure to centralize all information and outreach into a digital sales room where your buyer can access important documents and content that will move them down the sales cycle and set the stage for the next call you might have.

How to Follow-Up After a Discovery Call

Follow-up will help maintain momentum after the discovery call is over. It keeps the prospect moving through the sales funnel. Here’s how you can optimize the discovery follow-up process:

Send a Follow-Up Email Immediately

Prompt follow-ups keep your product top of mind. Forrester stresses the importance of responsiveness, noting that buyers expect quick answers. Consider conversational intelligence tools to streamline this process. These tools summarize call details and automate email drafts with next steps, enabling swift responses that cover all critical points without added human effort.

Build a Product Demo

Work with sales engineering to configure a product demo based on the specific issues discussed during the discovery call. This demonstration should focus on how your solution addresses the prospect’s unique challenges, showcasing your understanding of their needs.

Analyze Each Call to Improve

Analyzing your calls helps identify what works and what doesn’t. Some sales training platforms come with artificial intelligence-driven tools that suggest coaching opportunities and ways to streamline workflows.

Mistakes to Avoid on a Discovery Call

The difference between a good discovery call and a great one are minor, but by avoiding these common pitfalls, you can create more value, keeping you confident about the potential to close deals. Here are mistakes to steer clear of:

Compromising the Call by Talking for Longer Periods

Dominating the conversation can turn prospects off. Balancing speaking and listening will keep the prospect sharing. Allocate most of the discovery call time to the prospect’s needs and concerns.

Overwhelming Your Prospects with Questions

While asking questions that guide the conversation and unearth valuable information is essential, bombarding prospects with too many questions can make the call feel like an interrogation. Space out your questions to make the conversation feel natural and respectful of the prospect’s time. According to Gong, you should ask between 11-14 questions and explore no more than 3-4 customer problems.

Getting Carried Away Talking About Your Solution

It’s natural to be enthusiastic about your product, but avoid overwhelming the prospect with excessive details about features. The primary goal of the discovery call is to understand the prospect. Focus the conversation on them and only interject to guide the discussion.

How to Coach your Sales Reps to Conduct Successful Discovery Calls

Sales coaching will prepare your sales reps for discovery calls or improve their performance as they progress with future calls. Consider blending in-person, human-led coaching with AI to help the sales team guide their conversations.

Human-Led Coaching

Human insight remains irreplaceable in sales coaching. Here’s how managers can directly impact rep development:

  • Set clear criteria for discovery: Establish specific objectives and benchmarks that provide seller guidance during discovery calls, focusing on uncovering customer pain points and aligning discussions with sales goals.
  • Review recordings with your sales reps: Review call recordings regularly to provide personalized feedback during 1:1 coaching sessions. Discuss what went well and what could be improved, emphasizing how to address customer needs.
  • Create a discovery call template: Develop and refine a script, like the earlier sample, that reps can adapt based on each call’s direction. This script should guide them through the necessary steps to uncover information.

AI and Conversation Intelligence Technology in Coaching

The latest AI and Conversation Intelligence sales technology supports coaching with the ability to analyze quickly and streamline workflows:

  • Analyze calls: Use AI and natural language processing (NLP) tools to decode speech patterns, topics, sentiment, and engagement during calls. This technology can offer real-time feedback to reps, suggesting improvements and adjustments during or after the call happens.
  • Automate routine tasks: Use AI-powered tools to handle tasks such as note-taking, call transcription, follow-ups, links to CRM records, and tracking actions. This frees up reps to focus more on the conversation and less on note-taking.
  • Support recommendations with data: Leverage conversation intelligence’s analytics to view detailed reports on sales rep performance, highlighting areas for improvement and tracking progress over time. This allows targeted coaching and course correction that addresses specific weaknesses or builds on strengths.
  • Predict behaviors: Predict customer behaviors and preferences, providing reps with suggestions tailored to each prospect. This can help refine sales pitches and improve outcomes by aligning with customer expectations.

Let Highspot Help you Ace Discovery Calls

Now that we’ve explored how to coach your sales reps through human-led insights and advanced technology, let’s bridge the gap to the tools that can bring it all together.

With Highspot’s sales enablement platform, you can make every first conversation count, leaving a powerful first impression that paves the way to close more deals. Leveraging advanced tools like sales playbooks, digital sales rooms , conversation intelligence, and AI, Highspot simplifies the complexities of discovery calls, ensuring you have all the necessary insights, content, and metrics to ask the right questions and engage with prospects.

Request a demo of Highspot today and discover how our solutions can transform your discovery calls into a sales strategy that helps you close more deals.