Discovery Call

What Is a Discovery Call? The Definition and the Process

Anirban Banerjee

Anirban Banerjee
Lead Content Specialist, Clari



Ready to take your revenue to new heights?

Headphones hanging from the side of a laptop
Headphones hanging from the side of a laptop

It’s your first day at college; you’re thrilled to meet your peers and make new friends.

You meet Mike at the cafeteria. He says hi. You say hi back. However, before you can say anything else, Mike pulls out his shiny new laptop from his backpack. He starts talking about its features, how expensive it is, and how it’s better than everyone else’s.

He follows that with a monologue about a new, shiny car that his parents have bought for him. He goes on and on.

You come up with an excuse and leave at the earliest opportunity.

Later the same day, you meet Lucy. Soon after you both start talking, Lucy asks you, “Hey, how has your day been so far?” 

That, right there, is a person that you actually want to talk to. You tell her about your day, briefly covering the Mike incident, and to not be a Mike yourself, you ask soon after, “You tell me, how do you like your first day here?” 

Mikes & Lucys of the sales world

Sales teams have their own Mikes and Lucys, and your potential customers are familiar with both - given the huge number of sales calls they receive. They wouldn’t be interested in taking the conversation forward if you keep pitching your offerings. 

However, the deal can find its place in the sun if you listen to your prospects and discuss their issues and requirements. Depending on how the first call goes, your prospects would like to have a second meeting with Lucy, whereas they might ignore another incoming call from Mike. 

Think of the discovery call as a job interview: your prospect is assessing if they like you, and if it makes sense to invest in the next step.

The success (or failure) of the discovery call determines whether or not the deal would qualify. Furthermore, it sets the tone for the upcoming episodes of your sales process.

RE: What is a discovery call and why is it important

A discovery call is the first conversation between you, a sales rep, and your prospect after they have expressed initial interest in your product/services. The aim of this call is to:

  • Uncover your prospect’s pain points
  • Understand your prospect’s needs
  • Determine if they are a good fit for you and vice versa
  • Build a healthy relationship with your prospect

The purpose of a discovery call is to unearth key buyer insights and build rapport by listening to your prospects. If you don’t take enough time to listen to your prospects and keep pitching your product, the discovery call will turn colder than an icicle in a snowstorm. However, if you do it right, you will uncover rich buyer insights to frame better discovery questions, qualify the deal, and move it further down the sales funnel.

Essential steps of a successful discovery call

Step 1: Unleash the power of pre-call research and planning

While you’re on the discovery call with your prospect, you need to be on the same page as them. If you come off as a stranger and start pitching, they will ensure that you stay a stranger. So, how do you eliminate this wall between you and your prospect? How do you gather enough data to start a conversation and keep it going?

Research, research, research!

With in-depth prospect insights in your arsenal, you can get an idea of their role, interests, and organizational aspects. Researching beforehand and extensively planning for the call can help you skip past elementary questions - the answers to which you would have easily found online. 

Your discovery call prep checklist:

  • Review account history and recent activity: Dig into your CRM to check if you have a previous history with this prospect or their organization. If yes, find the most recent activity and see how you can use it to frame your discovery call questions or sales pitch.
  • Research their company thoroughly: LinkedIn and Crunchbase are your best friends. Explore as much as you can about your prospect and their organization through their Linkedin profiles, company website, and other social media platforms. Also, search for any mutual connections that you can utilize to build rapport.
  • Identify and analyze competitors: You’ve got to stay ahead of your competitors, champ! Flesh out a rundown of your competitors’ offerings and plan strategies to handle competitor-specific objections.
  • Plan your discovery call: Do not walk in unprepared. Based on all the information you have extracted from various sources, decide on three or four most important discovery call questions that you would like to ask your prospect. 
  • Consolidate your resources: If the call goes well, your prospect might ask for a demo or a quick walkthrough of your product. So, keep all your resources organized and ready.

Next step: Take a deep breath and CALL!

Step 2: Kick off discovery with qualifying questions

Data suggests that about 50% of initial prospects turn out to be a good fit. This step aims to filter out the rest. Ask the right qualifying questions to save time that you would have otherwise spent on talking to leads that aren't good fits.

Learn the current situation of your prospect and examine the likelihood of conversion with qualifying questions like these:

  • What process do you currently use to automate your marketing automation?
  • Why are you currently automating your marketing operations in this particular way?
  • Is there a budget that you have decided for doing it this way?
  • How does this particular method impact your business?

Step 3: Bring their pain to the surface

Based on the information you have gathered about your prospect’s business, ask questions that bring out their business challenges. It might be possible that your prospect is unaware of their current challenges, in which case, they will not be able to realize the value of your solution even if you deliver an irresistible sales pitch.

You need to ask open-ended questions that highlight their top priorities and goals and how they are not being achieved in an efficient way. You can later use this information to establish how your product can easily tackle these roadblocks. Ask questions like:

  • How satisfied are you with your current marketing automation processes?
  • What is the biggest challenge that you are facing with the current process?
  • Is this method preventing you from achieving your business goals?
  • Are you able to prioritize your [top priorities] by using this process?
  • If there’s a bottleneck in the automation workflow, will you be able to resolve it easily? 

Step 4: Ignite the need for immediate action

Now that you know your prospect’s pain points, you need to make them aware of the consequences that might surface if they don’t address their problems soon. This is best done by asking implication questions that tend to bring out those consequences. This also ignites a sense of urgency for your prospect to quickly resolve their issues, which is where you come in as a ‘friend indeed’ to help them with your solution. 

Here are a few examples of implication questions that you can use to intensify your prospect’s pain points:

  • How much money is your current automation process costing your organization?
  • How many sales opportunities have you missed by not implementing [better alternative]? What are they?
  • How is the current process impacting your team in achieving their goals?
  • What happens if you don’t improve this situation by the end of the quarter?

By this point, if you have gained your prospect’s trust, they will reveal some serious consequences and will be in a vulnerable position - where they would be looking for a way to resolve it. This will be your chance to strike the iron while it’s hot. More on that in the next step.

Step 5: Finally, pitch your product as the savior

As the last step of your discovery call, calm your prospect’s rising vulnerability by pitching your product as a viable solution. Leverage need-payoff questions (as used in the SPIN selling methodology) to get your prospect to admit how your product benefits them.

Need-payoff questions help your prospect understand what they stand to gain by adopting your product/services. What’s the best thing about these questions? When framed the right way and asked at the right time, they make your prospect realize your product’s value for them - by themselves. Here are a few examples that you can refer to for framing need-payoff questions:

  • How much money and man-hours would [your solution] save your company?
  • Do you think your team could benefit from [your solution]?
  • What benefits would you gain from achieving this goal with [your solution]?

Make your way towards the next stage of sales process

Once you have made it clear that your product is highly beneficial to your prospect, and they have agreed to it - it’s time to make the next move. Ask your prospect to schedule a second call - it could be a product demo or a call with the decision-maker of the company - whatever facilitates the sales cycle. 

What not to do on a discovery call

  • Do not overwhelm your prospects with a series of never-ending questions. Limit the number of questions you ask to three-four. 
  • Do not keep talking for long periods of time, even if you’re addressing your prospect’s concerns. Keep your replies short and highly valuable, and pause to let your prospect speak. 
  • Do not ask all the questions at once and expect your prospect to respond to them one by one. Disperse the questions you ask across the call while building rapport and engaging with your prospect throughout the discovery process.
  • Do not turn the discovery call into an interrogation session. Position yourself as your prospect’s friend who wants to understand their problems and help them make the right choice. 

Seems like you could use a discovery call buddy:

When you’re explaining your product’s benefits to your prospect or responding to an objection - you can often lose track of time. You might forget to pause and return to the two-way discussion between you and your prospect.

Clari Copilot, our sales intelligence software, has your back!

  • Clari Copilot raises live alerts whenever you are talking more than you should; it constantly times your monologue and raises live alerts when you need to pause and listen to your prospect.
  • Not only this, Clari Copilot provides live assistance for discovery calls, arming you with the ammo to tackle all the sales objections and tricky situations that come your way. 
  • Our conversation intelligence software allows you to revisit the transcript of your discovery call in an AI-driven manner. It consolidates all your sales data from your data sources such as CRM and dialer and gleans actionable insights in just a few clicks. 

With these data-driven insights and metrics in your arsenal, you can add value to your sales processes and boost your win rate. To empower your discovery calls and sales pipeline with actionable sales intelligence, book a demo with us now.