13 Sales Discovery Questions to Help You Add More Value to Prospects

The discovery call is a critical part of the sales process. It’s how you determine whether the prospect is a good fit for your solution. It is also an opportunity for you to demonstrate your value to prospects. Your sales discovery questions must demonstrate that you can provide real value.

There are three parts to the discovery call: rapport building, discovery, and going over the next steps in the process. The discovery portion of the call—the part where you learn more about the prospect and their needs—should take up the bulk of your time. Here are 13 sales discovery questions to ask:

Opening the conversation

To begin the conversation, you want to learn more about the prospect’s current situation. This will help you figure out how best to position yourself.

1)  What is the biggest problem you are trying to solve?

Encourage the prospect to describe the problem they are facing in terms that are as specific as possible. If the prospect’s initial answer is vague, help them drill down to identify a more defined problem. For example, if the prospect identifies flat revenues as a problem, ask if pipeline management is a problem. This information will help you to position your solution.

2) How is this problem impacting your ability to meet your company’s goals?

You want to be able to contextualize the prospect’s struggles. To do this effectively, you need to understand the company’s larger mission, goals, and strategy. By asking this question, you can prompt the prospect to start thinking about the bigger picture. Ideally, your solution should not just be a fix for one problem. You want to position the product as a solution that can help your prospect meet major goals.

3) What is the ideal timeframe for addressing this problem?

If the prospect truly sees the problem as urgent, they will have a specific time frame in mind for addressing it. Although this timeframe may not be realistic, the absence of a timeframe indicates a lack of urgency.

The current situation

Next, you want to learn more about the prospect’s current situation. This will help you to identify the root causes of the problem—and how your solution can help.

4) What is working well for your current process and what features are not working so well?

This question will help you to get a sense of the prospect’s current situation. Once you know what’s working well and what isn’t, you will be in a better position to sell your solution.

Some prospects may offer only vague responses. In those cases, it’s helpful to ask them to walk you through their process step-by-step. During the rundown, ask questions like, “How satisfied are you with this part of the process?”

5) What kind of opportunities do you see for improvement in this area?

You want to encourage the prospect to think about what is possible (and how your product can help realize those possibilities). By asking this question, you can learn more about their aspirations so that you can position your product as a solution that can help them to realize those aspirations.

6) Name two or three things you want to improve in this area.

Over the course of your conversation, it’s likely that the prospect has identified several problems that need to be addressed. This question forces them to prioritize. Now, you know what problems are most pressing.

The decision-making process

To sell your solution, you need to understand the prospect’s decision-making process so that you can begin to formulate a strategy.

7) Who is involved in the decision-making process?

You need to know who will ultimately be deciding whether to purchase your solution. This information will help you understand how the person you’re talking to fits into the larger decision-making process.

8) What are the criteria for choosing a solution?

If the prospect uses clearly defined criteria during the selection process, you need to demonstrate how your solution meets the criteria.

9) What top three factors should be prioritized in the decision?

The discovery call can and should cover many different topics, but ultimately you need to be able to pin down what is really most important to the prospect. Asking them to identify their top priorities will give you a sense of what you need to do to make the sale happen.

Implementation

The discovery call is not too early to consider issues of implementation. You need to know how to make the implementation process go smoothly so that you can sell the prospect on your solution.

11) How can we make the transition easier for your team?

By framing the question in this way, you show the prospect that you care about making the transition process go smoothly. Their answer will also provide valuable information about their internal processes and biggest concerns about implementing a new solution.

12) If I propose a solution, what are potential roadblocks to implementation?

Many prospects worry about splurging on an expensive solution only for it to go unused. This question demonstrates that you are thinking about how to help them maximize the value of your solution. In future conversations, you will need to assure the prospect that you can help them through these potential roadblocks.

13) How would you measure the success of this new solution?

Your prospect likely has specific metrics in mind for determining the success of the solution. This question shows that you are results-driven and care about helping them to meet their goals. In your sales strategy, focus on proving that you can help them meet their measuring stick for success.

When you’re on a discovery call, the way you frame questions is critical. The sales discovery questions you ask should prompt prospects to articulate their pain points—and how your solution can address those points. If you can frame the conversation in terms of value, you stand a good chance of moving forward with the sale.

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James Meincke

Director of Marketing @ CloserIQ. Previously Recruiter @ ManpowerGroup & Freelance Social Media Strategist. University of Wisconsin Journalism & Strategic Communication Grad.