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B2B Sales Discovery Success – 6 Tips, 27 Example Discovery Questions

We all understand that sales are complicated. Having a great set of sales discovery questions is critical for finding the customers who need your solution.We all understand that sales are complicated. Having a great set of sales discovery questions is critical for finding the customers who need your solution.

As you get ready for your next discovery call, take a moment to review these great questions.

First, though:

What is sales discovery?

Sales discovery is the process of learning about a potential customer’s needs in order to determine whether there’s a fit between those needs and your products, solutions, and services.

Sales discovery is covered via one or more sales discovery calls.

What is a discovery call?

A discovery call is a meeting between a potential buyer and seller, during which the buyer learns more about the seller.

In complex B2B sales scenarios, the discovery call is likely multiple meetings, some potentially in person, others remote phone calls or live meetings.

The Ideal B2B Sales Discovery Process

For this article, we are not diving into specific sales methodologies like Challenger, GAP, Miller Heiman, and SPIN.

To learn more about the specific approaches and how they run discovery, click the links above for each process.

The sales discovery process should accomplish the following for the sales team.

  • What business challenges is the prospect trying to solve?
  • Confirm that your offerings can help the prospect solve these challenges.
  • Identify stakeholders such as the budget holder, final decision maker, and others involved in the buying decision.
  • Confirm budget is available.
  • Confirm understanding of timelines.
  • Demonstrate that you are a salesperson and business the prospect wants to work with to solve this problem.

6 Tips for Effective Sales Discovery

Having great discovery calls require more than just a few great discovery questions at your fingertips.

Read our tips for an outstanding sales discovery call.

#1 Research the company, its competitors, and its industry.

#2 Review their website, social media, annual reports, and anything else to help you understand their world and the problems they may be trying to solve.

#3 Based on your research, pull together a list of possible discovery questions tailored to their needs.

Ask the right questions to get the whole picture, those that require more than a yes/no answer.

What are open-ended questions?

Open-ended questions cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”

Open-ended questions examples include:
  • How do you feel about that?
  • Can you tell me more?
  • What do you mean by that?
  • Could you give me an example?
  • What would happen if…?
  • What challenges are you facing with your current solution?
  • How do you currently handle XYZ process?
  • Can you tell me more about your decision-making process?
  • What is your budget for a new solution?
  • How often do you face this problem?
  • What does this problem cost you?
  • In what ways does this problem impact your business?
  • What other challenges are you facing that we might be able to help with?

#4 Talk to other sales reps who have sold solutions into their industry or spoken with the prospect.

#5 Take detailed notes. An excellent sales discovery process requires more than great discovery questions; you must listen intently and document everything.

#6 Confirm understanding and set the next steps

Remember, the sales discovery call was not the goal — making a sale is the purpose of this process.

Connect with the prospect to confirm what you learned during the discovery calls and set a follow-up meeting with the potential customer.

Patrick Dang Shares How to Run a Great Discovery Call 

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27 Sales Discovery Questions to help you Dig Deeper and Move Forward

Now that you understand sales discovery, it’s time to dig into the discovery call questions.

Sales Discovery Questions – Pain points

Take time to dig into their current challenges and how they impact your prospect and the business.

You should feel the prospect’s needs to your core – ask questions until you do.

#1 What are your top priorities?

#2 What keeps you up at night?

#3 How are you handling this challenge (i.e., what is the current solution)?

#4 What are the top business priorities today?

#5 What negative impacts could result from solving this problem?

#6 How are these pain points impact you and your team?

Sales Discovery Questions – Understanding Success

Asking questions to understand pain is part of discovery; ensuring you are a good fit is equally critical by understanding how they define value and overall deal value.

The sales rep who understands this will have a true advantage over the competition.

#1 What does success look like to you?

#2 How will you know if this project is successful?

#3 How do you measure success?

#4 What needs to happen for this to be a success?

#5 What would solving this problem mean for you?

#6 What is essential to add value to our solution?

Sales Discovery Questions – Understanding the timeline

Some challenges are time-limited. Understand if that is the case and, if so, when does a solution need to be delivered to achieve the results the company requires?

#1 When do you need to have this done?

#2 What’s the timeline look like?

Sales Discovery Questions – Clarify budget.

Many people hate talking about money, but these are vital questions.

Does your prospect currently have money? Could it disappear, or could they get extra from other parts of the business?r

#1 What is the total budget for this project?

#2 How much are you willing to invest in a solution?

#3 Are there other priority challenges that could pull the budget from this effort?

Sales Discovery Questions – Current Understanding

Take time to ask your prospect how you are doing and if your service or solution appears to be up to solving their challenges as you take this journey.

If they currently think you are a good fit, great. If not, you may have a lot of work to do.

#1 What do you like about our/my solution?

#2 Is there anything you’re not sure about?

#3 Do you have any current concerns that would prevent our ability to move forward?

Sales Discovery Questions – The competition

Uncover who your competitors are in this deal. It’s rare for prospects to work with only one company. Who else is in the deal and how will you beat them?

#1 What are your other options?

#2 What pros and cons do you see with the other options?

Sales Discovery Questions – Buying process

The buying process is often far more complex than you initially realize.

Can you map out the prospect’s process and define a plan for each stage? Consider creating a Mutual Action Plan as early as possible in the sales process.

#1 Who else is involved in this decision?

#2 What parts of the decision process does each team or individual control, and how can we best support them?

#3 What’s the decision-making process look like?

#4 Are you the final decision maker?

#5 Who are the decision-makers in your buying process?

#4 Procurement can often have particular needs; will they be involved in the early parts of the process?

#5 What are your next steps?

Final thoughts on the sales discovery process

Too many sales professionals fail to put enough planning into their discovery call and, as a result, miss out on the essential questions to ask.

Done well, the sales discovery process and the discovery questions you use can give you an edge on winning the deal.

What are your favorite discovery questions to use in your sales process?

Do you use a sales playbook to ensure every sales professional does the proper discovery process every time?

Do you use conversational intelligence tools to ensure the team asks the right questions, uncover needs, understand priority and budget, and win the business?

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