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Discovery Calls

Learn all you need to know about discovery calls and how to nail them with the right sales data.

What is a discovery call?

A discovery call is the first conversation between your sales rep and your prospect after they’ve expressed initial interest in your product or services. The goal of a discovery call is to understand a prospect’s situation and evaluate whether they fit your ideal customer profile and value proposition.

When done right, discovery calls help you get rich buyer insights, qualify prospects, and move them further down the sales funnel.

Why are discovery calls important? 

A discovery call is the best way to determine if a prospect matches your ideal customer profile and will buy from you. A solid discovery process is fundamental in ensuring the success of your sales strategy.

According to HubSpot:

“Depending on who you sell to and what you sell, you could spend 10 to 20 hours with your prospect. You should have a good idea of whether the deal will close and for how much. Luckily, you can find out right from the start with discovery calls.”

Discovery calls offer several benefits by helping you:

  • Unearth key buyer insights
  • Understand their needs, goals and pain points
  • Evaluate whether a prospect is a good fit for you
  • Move prospects further down the deal pipeline
  • Build a healthy rapport

What are the steps to follow for effective discovery calls?

If you want to hit all the right notes with your discovery calls, here are some steps to follow for an effective discovery call structure:

1. Do your homework and plan the discovery call 

Discovery calls are a great way to build a healthy relationship with your prospect based on mutual trust and respect. That requires being on the same page as your prospect by performing in-depth research on their company, role, interests, and organizational aspects. 

You can prepare by looking into:

  • Account history and recent activity using the CRM
  • Company website, social media presence, and profile on LinkedIn and Crunchbase
  • Your competitor’s offerings and whether they’ll interest the prospect

Using the above info, you can craft a pitch that works for a particular prospect and choose the most important sales discovery call questions to ask.

It’s also a good idea to compile your resources as the prospect might ask for a demo, walkthrough, product specification, and more if the call goes well.

2. Set the agenda at the beginning

Establish the agenda and purpose of the call first, rather than bombarding the prospect with discovery questions. This sets the tone for the call and lets the prospect know what to expect.

Here’s how you can relay the message:

“The purpose of this conversation is to understand your situation and see how we can help. If we seem to be a good fit for each other, we can continue our conversation by scheduling a follow-up to provide more product-specific insights. Does that work for you?”

3. Start by asking the right qualifying questions

According to Sales Insights Lab, at least 50% of your prospects aren’t a good fit. So, it’s crucial to evaluate and qualify leads during the discovery call by asking questions such as:

  • “How does this challenge affect your business and your teams?”
  • “What processes and tools do you currently use to address this challenge?”
  • “Do you have a budget and a timeline to solve this problem?”

4. Discuss the pain points

Ask open-ended questions to discuss the prospect’s pain points and how they affect the overall business. For instance, if you’re selling an HR solution to fast-track onboarding and training, you could ask:

  • “How are you handling the challenges in onboarding new employees for a rapidly expanding team?”
  • “What challenges do you face in training and mentoring the new employees and assessing their performance?”

You can weave these pain points into your sales pitch to show how your product will quickly tackle the issues your prospect is facing.

5. Build the need for immediate action

After discussing the pain points, the next step is to highlight their consequences on the business. 

When the prospects realize the impact of the problems on their business goals, they’re more likely to act with a sense of urgency to resolve the issues promptly. This paves the way for you to strike while the iron is hot and present your solution.

Using the previous example of the HR software, you could ask questions such as:

  • “How is the current process affecting the performance of each team?”
  • “How much money is slow onboarding costing your organization?”
  • “What happens if you don’t improve this situation by the end of the quarter?”

6. Pitch your product

Before pitching, you must make sure that you’ve established trust and rapport with your prospect, and evaluated their fit as per your ideal customer profile. 

Once you’ve covered the challenges and their impact on the prospect’s business, the next step is to calm their rising vulnerability and urgency by pitching your product as a viable solution.

Asking need-payoff questions is one of the best ways to show what your prospect would gain by adopting your solution. Here are some examples of need-payoff questions using the previous example of an HR tool:

  • “What are the benefits of automating employee onboarding, feedback, and performance analysis?”
  • “How much revenue and cost savings can you ensure each quarter with automation?”
  • “How will our solution affect your employee morale, motivation, and productivity?”

7. Outline the next steps

At this stage, your prospect is more or less convinced to take your product for a spin. 

That’s why it’s important to end with a call to action — schedule a demo, follow-up call to discuss product specifics, or talk to the decision-makers. This action takes a qualified prospect further down the sales cycle.

8. Review, tweak and repeat

Nailing discovery calls and boosting the conversion rates is a continuous learning process. So, you should record and transcribe each discovery call so that you can analyze them to:

  • Understand a rep’s performance
  • Identify missed opportunities and areas to improve
  • Check whether the rep went off-script
  • Unearth insights on buyer behavior, pain points, needs, and more to help your sales, marketing, product, and customer success teams

Performing such analysis in real-time helps you provide practical, actionable feedback to your reps and coach them into becoming discovery call superstars. You can also use this data to improve your discovery call template and script.

Dos and don’ts of discovery calls



Set the purpose of the meeting up front.

Try too hard to sell.

Ask open-ended questions to keep the conversation flowing.

Ask Yes-No questions.

Ask well-researched and informed questions to show you’ve done your homework.

Approach the prospect with incorrect info.

Ask questions that take the buyer a step closer to the deal.

Waste time on small talk.

Follow-up with questions that uncover the prospect’s needs, motivations and pain points.

Overwhelm the prospects with a series of never-ending questions. 

Listen to the prospect patiently.

Talk too long without any pauses.

What are some examples of questions to ask during sales discovery calls?

Here’s what makes a great discovery question — it’s open-ended, well-researched, and dives into the prospect’s needs, goals, and challenges. 

Discovery questions shouldn’t annoy or alienate the prospect. Instead, they should offer value to the prospects and help them discover something new during the process.

Examples of sales discovery questions

Kicking off the discovery call by asking the prospect about their role within a company is a great warm-up question for sales discovery. Then, you can ask 2-3 follow-up questions to understand the prospect’s primary duties, KPIs, challenges, and decision-making authority.

Similarly, when suggesting a solution to your prospect’s challenges (in the form of your solution), you can ask follow-up questions about their budget, urgency, and willingness to try your solution.

For instance, if the discovery question you’re asking is, “What is the biggest challenge you’re trying to solve?”, you can follow it up with:

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

If you want to nail your discovery call, here are some sales discovery questions you should be asking:

  • “Can you tell me about your company and role?”
  • “Can you tell me about your business goals and objectives?”
  • “What would a successful outcome look like for you?”
  • “What is the biggest challenge you’re trying to solve?”
  • “What is your budget for resolving this issue?”
  • “Why hasn’t this problem been addressed before?
  • “What happens if these problems go unresolved?”
  • “If we can suggest the right solution for your problem, what will it take for you to adopt it?”
  • “How can I make the adoption of our solution easier for you?”
  • “If you implement this solution, what changes do you expect to see a year from now?”

As mentioned earlier, don’t interrogate the prospect with a barrage of questions. Instead, limit the discovery questions to 3-4, and choose them wisely.

What’s next?

Discovery calls lay the foundation for a meaningful relationship with your prospect and are the building blocks of an effective sales process. 

An effective sales methodology, discovery call script, and strategy are vital to qualifying prospects and moving them further down the sales pipeline. Access to timely, accurate, and credible sales data plays a huge role in nailing discovery. 

That’s where a real-time conversation intelligence tool like Clari Copilot can help. 

Clari Copilot automatically records and transcribes each customer-facing conversation so that you can train your team to ask the right questions. It provides you with a crystal clear picture of what’s happening during your discovery calls and helps you take proactive action to win clients’ trust and close deals. 

Here are some of the benefits of using Clari Copilot:

  • Live sales coaching: Clari Copilot’s live sales assistant raises live alerts whenever your reps are talking more than they should, so that they pause and listen to the prospect. Clari Copilot also provides contextual cue cards to help your reps navigate tricky situations during calls — objections, pricing, competitor mentions.
  • Game tapes: Build a playlist of discovery calls, the best and worst pitches, and more to onboard new reps smoothly, help them learn from their peers and gain confidence by observing sales pros at work. These game tapes can also help align sales, marketing, and product teams by providing direct access to customer insights.
  • Automatic call summary: You get the highlights of each discovery call as soon as it’s done to analyze the call and gauge your rep’s performance. Clari Copilot also offers call scorecards by tracking crucial metrics such as talk:listen ratio, tone, friendliness, and more. You can customize the scorecard to track what’s important to you and get all the information you need at a glance.

Moreover, Clari Copilot acts as a single source of truth for all sales data by consolidating everything from CRMs, dialers, and other tools in your sales-marketing stack in real-time.

Interested in learning more?

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