See Clari in action
Discovery Call

5 Most Critical Questions To Ask on a Sales Discovery Call

Anirban Banerjee

Anirban Banerjee
Lead Content Specialist, Clari



Ready to take your revenue to new heights?

Notepad, pen, and four thought bubbles with question marks inside
Notepad, pen, and four thought bubbles with question marks inside

Have you ever been on a date where they kept talking about themselves, showing no interest in knowing you? 

Jumping directly into your sales pitch without taking the time to understand your prospect and their needs is just like a date gone wrong. You can be sure that there’s no second date happening. 

For any relationship to develop, you need to take the time and put in the effort to understand the other person by asking the right questions. 

It’s common for sales reps and sales leaders to spend hours fine-tuning the sales pitch, practicing the delivery, hoping to impress and win a client. They spend more time talking about their product or services without understanding the prospect’s needs and pain points.

In their eagerness to close, most sales reps fail to focus on a crucial part of the sales process - the unassuming discovery call. They assume that they can wing it. After all, how hard can it be to ask a couple of questions to the client, right? 

Well, my friend, that’s a classic rookie mistake and can cost you big time. 

The expert salesperson knows that closing calls do not happen without asking the right discovery questions early on in the sales process. 

You need to ask the best questions to uncover sales obstacles, reveal pain points and true motivations of clients, determine product fit, and build anticipation and excitement for your product. 

Without the right questions, you are likely to be stuck guessing important information. You’ll probably waste plenty of time suggesting the wrong products to a prospect or following an unsuitable sales strategy. 

This is why it’s important to ask the right discovery questions to your prospects before you begin pitching. 

In this post, we share the critical questions that you must ask on a sales discovery call to uncover the client's pain points and guide them on the right buying journey. But first, 

What makes a great sales discovery question? 

The questions you ask (and how you ask them) determine the quality of information you extract from a prospect. The right questions help you dive deep into the prospect’s needs, objectives, and challenges. 

The wrong ones? You might annoy the buyer, losing their trust and sinking the deal entirely. 

Here are the rules or templates to help you frame the best sales discovery calls. 

We call them “The 4 Golden Principles of Sales Discovery Questions”:

  • It is open-ended - Avoiding “Yes” or “No” questions gets your prospects talking and willing to share more information. Open-ended questions keep the conversation flowing, helping you gather the right insights.
  • It is researched and informed - Asking informed and well-researched questions demonstrate that you’ve done your homework and showcase your professionalism, building trust. 
  • It helps move the prospect up the sales funnel - Each question that you ask should take the buyer one step closer to the deal. Avoid wasting your time (and the prospect’s time) on small-talk. Try to ask the right questions that drive the sales process forward. 
  • It drives the conversation and builds rapport - Discovery calls are not about interrogating your prospect with one question after another. Instead, it should provide value to your potential buyer. Bonus if they learn something new in the process. Follow a question with the right follow-up question to naturally uncover the prospect’s pain points, thereby creating a perfectly tailored sales pitch that addresses the prospect's needs. 

Five best sales discovery questions and why should you use them

Here are the top critical sales discovery call questions you need to ask a sales lead to uncover the required information and create an irresistible sales pitch. We’ve also provided follow-up questions that you can use after each question to gather more information about the prospect. 

“Can you tell me about your company and role?”

This is a great warmup question for sales discovery. Starting with this question makes it easy for the prospect to take the lead and ease into the conversation. Most people love to share about their company, and it is a great way to build rapport. Additionally, it helps you uncover critical information about the potential customer. 

Look for the following clues in their conversation:

  • Do they have the decision-making power to close the deal? 
  • What areas of the business do they oversee? 
  • Are they facing any difficulties recently? 

Follow-up questions:

  • “What metrics are you responsible for?”
  • “What are your primary duties and tasks?” 

This helps you align your sales pitch to match the requirements of the prospect’s role. 

“Can you tell me about your business goals and objectives?” 

This is a fundamental sales discovery question that helps you pinpoint the prospect's business needs. For example, you can identify if they’re looking to streamline their operations or if they are looking for a way to cut down costs. 

The open-endedness of this question keeps the conversation moving forward while not appearing too pushy. 

Follow-up question:

  • “What is your timeline to achieve these objectives?” 

This helps you determine if your product implementation matches their timeline needs. 

“What is the biggest challenge you are trying to solve?” 

This question encourages the prospect to describe the troubles they are facing with their current solution. Try to get as specific as possible, and drill down to identify the core of the problem. 

For example, if a prospect says they’re suffering from stagnant revenues, keep the conversation flowing by asking them if they’re struggling to manage the sales pipeline efficiently. The information they provide helps you position your solution to help them solve their problems. 

Follow-up question:

  • “How is this problem preventing your company from achieving your goals?”
  • “What is your top priority?”

“What happens if these problems go unresolved?”

This qualifying question is the climax of the discovery call, and it sets up a “what-if” scenario that urges the prospect to make the right decision. By discussing what happens if the problem is unresolved, you highlight the risks involved and underscore the roadblocks they face. This is a great way to make the prospect take the right action by considering your product or service. 

The answer provided by the prospect for this question helps you nail their pain points, which you can highlight in your final sales pitch. 

Follow-up question:

  • “What have you lost/stand to lose if you didn’t do anything and kept the process the same?” 

“If we can suggest the right solution for your problem, what will it take for you to adopt it?” 

This is an excellent discovery question that gives you three crucial pieces of information. 

First, it helps you identify the steps you have to go through before closing the deal. Who needs to approve the deal? Who are the decision-makers? Which departments are involved in the decision-making process? Is it a team decision, or is the approval determined by one person? 

You can use this info to alter your sales pitch and determine the timeline for deal closure. 

Second, it reinforces that your product can solve their problem, making it easier for them to say “yes” to the deal. 

Finally, notice the usage of words like “we”, and “you.” This builds a good rapport with the prospect and convinces them that you and the buyer are on the same team. It shifts your role from a seller to a consultant, helping you win the trust and loyalty of the prospect. 

Follow-up question:

  • “What is your budget?” This is where you get down to the nitty-gritty. Discussing monetary terms on a sales call requires finesse. During this stage, don’t try to get exact figures. Instead, look for ballpark figures to decide whether the project is a go or a non-starter. 
  • “How can I make this easier for you?” - This is a great final question that makes it easy for the prospective buyer to ask any further questions or clarifications. Plus, it’s a great way to finish the call on a friendly note while continuing to build rapport. 

Mistakes to avoid on a sales discovery call

  • Approaching a prospect without doing your homework: Never do this. Review the company website, read up about the board members, check their LinkedIn pages, and follow company news so that you’re not caught on the wrong foot on the first call. Go through your CRM data and previous customer call recordings to review any information they have already shared with your team. This helps you prepare ahead for the call and highlights your professionalism to the prospect. 
  • Not setting the meeting’s tone and purpose upfront: Let the customer know that you’re looking to schedule a discovery call at their convenience. Explain that you’ll be asking a few questions and the reason for those questions. 
  • Staying inflexible: Most sales reps try to steer the conversation according to a plan they have in mind. But, sometimes, prospects might want to discuss something out of the blue. So, you’ve got to be nimble and follow the conversation where it leads instead of making it feel forced. 
  • Trying hard to sell: The idea behind a sales discovery call is to know more about the prospect and NOT to sell. So, engage genuinely with the buyer to discover their pain points, their objectives, and finally, to help them find the right solution. 
  • Not listening to the prospect: It’s natural to want to impress the prospect with the best features of your product or service. In a discovery call, you need to balance the listening with the talking to establish a rapport with the prospect. Instead of talking over the client, listen for crucial insights and information that you can use later in the sales cycle. 
  • Switching to a product demo in the middle of the sales discovery call: Remember, this call is about gathering the right information and not pitching your product or service. During the discovery call, you need to take a consultative approach and not a sales approach.

Close more deals with Clari Copilot

You’ve got to train your sales team to ask the right discovery questions to increase your close rates. This is where Clari Copilot comes into the picture. We make it easy to record customer calls and help sales leaders and marketing managers train and coach their teams on the right questions to ask. We provide you with a crystal clear picture of what’s happening on your sales calls, helping you take proactive action, thereby helping you win clients’ trust and close deals. 

Discover how Clari Copilot helps your sales team take the right actions at every step of the sales process that leads to winning outcomes.