The Definitive Guide to a Successful Discovery Call

Veronika Traublinger
December 8, 2021

7 easy steps helping you conduct better discovery calls leading to a high-quality sales pipeline and shorter sales cycles.

It’s no secret that the discovery call is one of the most crucial parts of the sales process. A good discovery process is the basis for an effective sales cycle.

In this article, we will share 7 easy steps that will help you conduct better discovery calls leading to a high-quality sales pipeline.

What is a Discovery Call?

The discovery call is a part of the sales qualification process. It is the first proper conversation with a prospect after they show initial interest in your product or service.

In the discovery call, you have the opportunity to get more in-depth insights about the challenges and goals of your prospect and determine if they are actually a fit for your solution.

And this effort is well worth it. Sales Insights Lab found that up to 50% of a salesperson's initial prospect turns out to be a bad fit. And you for sure don’t want to spend too much time running after leads that will probably never buy your product.

The discovery call also sets the stage for the rest of the sales process. You can use the information gained in this conversation to provide a more personalized buying experience and demonstrate how your business can solve their specific pain points.

7-Steps to a Winning Discovery Call

A good discovery call should result in a rep gaining an in-depth understanding of the prospect’s situation and a prospect gaining a clear understanding of your company and what it provides. It should build the base of a positive and trusting relationship between the rep and prospect that will be key to moving the deal forward. 

Here are 7 steps to do that:

1. Prepare for the discovery meeting

Preparation is key. 

It is your job to ensure that the meeting is worth everyone's time. The best way to ensure that happens is by conducting thorough research on the prospect you’ll be talking to. This allows you to personalize the pitch and plan out some questions to help you get the missing information.

When doing your research, you should answer some key questions:

  • Who will you talk to?
  • What authority do they hold in their company?
  • Why did they get in contact with you/your business? Did they already share a challenge they want to solve/a goal they want to achieve?
  • Do you have existing clients from their industry you can showcase?
  • Who will benefit from this solution—their team, managers, or customers?

See what Ciara’s Sales Manager Richard says about proper preparation before a sales meeting:

2. Set a clear agenda

In the first minutes of your discovery meeting, you should set the tone and break the ice. Introduce yourself, your company, and your role in the company and share the goals of the meeting.

Make sure everyone is on the same page and knows what to expect from the call.

3. Turn on your camera

You may wonder how turning on your camera will help you in your discovery call. Well, it’s simple. Seeing each other's faces makes the conversation more human and helps build a better relationship. 

On top, this way, you can read your prospect's emotions, giving you a better understanding of how engaged they are.

And believe it or not, data shows that closed-won deals have a 41% higher webcam usage than close-lost deals.

Since you’re meeting virtually already, take advantage of the benefits meeting technology has over in-person conversations. 

For example, you can record your meetings. This is not only great for documentation and coaching, but you can also share the recording with your clients so they can get other internal stakeholders involved quickly.

4. Ask the right questions

The goal of discovery is to learn as much as possible about your prospect, so you know if your business is a good fit for them.

To achieve your goal, it is important to ask the right questions. The conversation should be centered around your prospect's pain points and goals. But also keep in mind that a missing budget or not involving all stakeholders are two of the main reasons sales deals get lost. So you should address those topics rather early in the process.

Here you find a list of the best 15 qualification questions to identify good-fit leads.

5. Ensure a two-way conversation

The discovery call shouldn’t feel like an interrogation but more like a dialogue. Rapid-fire questions don’t allow to build a connection, so keep the number of questions small. Data shows that discovery calls with 11 to 14 questions are the most successful.

On top of limiting the number of questions, those three tips can help you have a meaningful dialogue with your prospect:

  • Track your talk-to-listen ratio to ensure you’re letting your prospect talk. 
  • Ask open-ended questions.
  • Get a meeting tool that provides you with monologue alerts if you get carried away during your pitch (e.g., Ciara).

6. Take notes

Yes, we know, note-taking isn’t one of the most glamorous tasks in sales.

But the insights about your prospect you gain during the discovery process are essential for providing a stellar buying experience leading to a won deal. So you for sure don’t want to forget any of them.

You can use the information going forward to personalize your pitch and sales demo to their specific needs, make a relevant follow-up, or make a smooth handoff to your Account Executive or Customer Success colleague.

Here you find some tips for better sales notes.

Take the Pain of Note-Taking out of your Virtual Sales Meetings with Ciara

7. Always set the next step

To keep your prospect moving through the sales funnel, you have to close them down on a next step. 

If you feel like the prospect is a good fit, summarize their pain points and how your solution can solve them. Also, use this opportunity to involve other important stakeholders in the process. You can simply do this by asking, “Who else is this important to?”

If the prospect isn’t a good fit for your business or seems not ready yet to buy a solution like yours, don’t be afraid to say so. This will build trust between you and the prospect, and when they should ever feel the need for your product or service, they will be happy to reach out to you.