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Run discovery call process to educate and qualify

How you do it

  • To run a good discovery call you need to figure out what information is vital to a successful sales conversion with a prospect. Example: How many people are involved in the buying process for this prospect? How many hoops do you and your prospect need to jump through to close this sale?

  • It’s best practice to write out an outline, but not a script. It’s important to touch on a list of different topics rather than read off of a pre-planned script. Practice performing your discovery call with a friend before you get on the phone with a client.  You want your friend to role play if they were your client and tell if you sound conversational or like an interview ( you want to sound conversational).  

  • You also want to assess if what you’re selling is a good fit for the client. Remember discovery is also about qualification. Let’s say you find out that they want to buy something now but won’t be using your software for 3 months. Then it’s silly for them to start a 14-day free trial now.  They won’t get the right usage out of the trial and will likely start the whole buying process over in a few months.  Instead, use this discovery to qualify them and know they are someone to keep in touch with and repeat the discovery call in 2 months.  (of course this varies depending on what you’re selling and how big the prospect organization is - bigger companies move slower, so 3 months might be a short time for them- but as a general rule, you need to qualify out some of your discovery calls knowing it’s not the right person to talk to.

  • Every B2B sales call is doing some kind of qualification, but good calls are also doing client discovery. This step can be combined with a demo, but most of the time you want to keep discovery separate if you can. If you can’t do this as a separate call then do it as a clear part of your demo call. Your job is to discover key things about your prospect (such as their Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline) in order to fit their needs.


Common Mistakes Founders Make

  • If you don’t run discovery you potentially have a sales process that ignores key client issues. Like if on the discovery you ask what the timeline is and the guy can’t buy until his boss returns from a 3-month tour of duty in the Paris office. If you hadn’t asked about timing you would be following up with your prospect and wondering why they “went dark” when in fact they are on their own time-table because the boss isn’t back. 

  • If you don’t do discovery calls you run the risk of demoing features first rather than benefits first.  Features tell, benefits sell.

  • Most of the time when you outline discovery calls it’s easy to think that every call will follow the same pattern, but in fact, the specific person you’re calling is just as important.  Be cognizant of your prospect’s role in the company before you invest too much into the call.



  • For an example of an SMB discovery call think about Yelp (detailed in the section of creating sales process).  If you were selling advertising on Yelp’s website, your discovery calls will be short and will be focused on qualification.  Since the product is well known, you might skip the demo and use this discovery call to determine fit and close the deal on the first call.  This is known as a “one call close” and it’s the equivalent to a “hole in one” for salespeople.

  • Discovery calls are different for enterprise grade software.  Here sales reps are not just determining buying interest and need, but often are getting some pre-demo questions out of the way to ensure there is a technical fit before using internal resources (like a sales engineer) to set up the demo environment.

Related Keywords

Sales Discovery Calls, Discovery Calls, Are We A Fit Calls

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