• Revenue Operations Sales Execution

5 Questions to Crush Your Discovery Calls

Holly Procter
VP of Sales, Clari

Photograph of a sales rep on a discovery call wearing headphones smiling at a laptop

Prospects expect salespeople to do their homework. 

As a potential customer, there’s nothing worse than answering 20 questions on a discovery call, wondering if you’ll ever see the demo you requested. Sellers asking a laundry list of discovery questions risk looking like they don’t understand the prospect or their business. Poof—credibility vanishes. The SaaS buying process drags on forever. 

Thanks to the power of online search, especially LinkedIn, it’s easier than ever to understand prospects’ goals and pain points as you navigate the sales process. But not everything can be found on the internet. Asking the right questions is key to truly understanding if and how your revenue operations solution can help the prospect. 

Here are some of my favorite targeted discovery call questions.

Why is now the right time to do something different?

Buyers approach sellers when there’s a need for change. Often, when companies scale, they have to change the way they do things. For example, Clari sells to many hypergrowth firms. 

We know that as companies grow, and reps have a larger pipeline, they have less time for manual tasks like updating meeting notes for all their deals in CRM. This time crunch may be one of the biggest challenges they face. Their current solution may not be up to the task. 

Meanwhile, the forecast is managed in a pile of spreadsheets and business intelligence tools with data that turns stale as soon as it lands on the CRO’s desk. Understanding why a prospect wants to change their process illuminates the prospect’s current difficulties and what they are hoping to accomplish in the future—which allows you to assess if your needs align, and better demonstrate how you can support those goals. 

If we get this right, how will this impact your business?

The answer to this question sets expectations for the partnership between buyer and the seller. The sales rep asking this question will learn exactly what the prospect needs from a new solution, and can better determine if and how it best aligns with the prospect’s business needs. Understanding how your solution aligns with a buyer’s key performance indicators can go far in setting up a successful sales cycle. Many of the sales team leaders we work with at Clari need confidence in their forecast. In our case, a prospect might say that they want to plan their budget better, and properly invest in things like hiring and research and development. 

How do you typically evaluate software, and what does your process look like?

Understanding how the buyer evaluates software helps the seller uncover key intel that will inform next steps. Without buy-in from all the stakeholders, and especially the person who ultimately signs the check, the deal is at risk of stalling or being lost altogether.

Reps might follow up with: 

  • Who does the prospect need to get approval from? 
  • Is there a parent company involved? 
  • Does IT need to sign off? 

The answers to these questions will determine how your product fits in with an existing tech stack and who has a say in purchasing and implementing new tools.

What’s the best way to demonstrate value to you and your teams?

This is where the rubber meets the road. No prospect wants to waste time on an irrelevant demo. Rather than wandering through a product tour and hoping something sticks, ask the prospect for guidance. If one of our prospects says they would get the most value out of seeing how managers can gain greater visibility into all the opportunities in their reps’ pipelines, that can open the door to ask more clarifying questions and learn about how they currently inspect their deals.

  • How do you conduct one-on-ones with your reps to understand how deals are progressing?
  • What do you wish was different about the way you inspect the pipeline?
  • How do you ensure your reps are updating their opportunities?

Now you can be more targeted and share what the prospect will care about the most.

What levers are you pulling for growth? 

High growth means higher stakes and greater expectations. Maybe they want to drive smarter deal making, with more data on how sellers can execute on their most important opportunities. Or perhaps they have a goal of growing net-dollar retention. Based on that answer, you can share relevant customer stories and show how similar companies achieved this goal with your service. 

These are just a handful of the questions that we ask, and they can be massaged to fit your product offering and ideal customer profile. With this framework in mind, you can truly understand the next phase of a company’s growth—information that isn’t always readily available online.

Read more: