10 Great Sales Discovery Questions to Ask Your Prospects

Sales discovery questions are a crucial tactic during your first interactions with potential customers that can make or break whether a deal eventually closes. They’re also an important contributor to your first impression, demonstrating to prospects that you’re interested in understanding their specific challenges and needs first, before you begin discussing solutions.

Research shows that top sales reps only talk for 45% of the time during discovery calls. This means they’re asking the right questions — questions that get prospects talking so that sales reps can capture the critical information they need to pursue next steps in the sales process.

Are you ready to start asking sales discovery questions that jumpstart your conversion rates and make your sales team more successful? In this article, we’ll go over why your sales discovery questions are so important and 10 that we think you should always ask potential customers.

Let’s get started!

Quick Takeaways

  • Sales discovery questions provide an important opportunity for sales reps to gain insight into prospect needs and motivations.
  • The highest-performing sales reps ask more than a dozen sales discovery questions per call.
  • Asking about your prospect’s company and role at the beginning of a call can give you important context that helps you steer the conversation successfully.
  • It’s best practice to focus on your prospect’s problems and challenges first to determine how your solution can address them.
  • Sales discovery questions should also aim to uncover when a prospect’s problem and the solution may not be a good fit.
  • Asking about next steps is a crucial part of ensuring a sales deal stays alive after the initial discovery call.

Why do your sales discovery questions matter?

Discovery calls are the foundation of the entire sales cycle. They typically happen at the point when prospects have already identified a need and done research on potential solutions. Now, they’re looking to learn more and continue making decisions about which solutions to pursue. The sales discovery questions you ask during these calls can be the difference between an eventual conversion or an opportunity that falls to the wayside.

There are several other benefits to high quality sales discovery calls, including:

  • Sales reps gain a better understanding of prospect needs and motivations
  • Rapport can be built between sales reps and prospects
  • Prospects feel seen and understood when sales reps ask relevant questions
  • Opportunities arise for both reps and prospects to fill information gaps

Aside from these benefits that help drive a deal forward, great sales discovery questions are also a surefire way to find out sooner rather than later that a deal might not be worth pursuing.

We’re not just talking about one or two questions, either. Research has shown that the best sales reps ask, on average, 12-15 questions during a sales discovery call.

top sales reps ask 12-15 sales discovery questions on average
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So what are the right sales discovery questions to ask to get the information you need and make your prospect feel confident in your company? Read on for 10 of the best questions you can ask to make your discovery calls more effective.

10 great sales discovery questions to ask your prospects

Tell me about your company.

We recommend always starting with this question. It’s an easy question to break the ice — one that’s never difficult for a prospect to answer — but it also gives you important information that you can use to steer the call in the right direction. One word of caution here: you don’t want this question to suggest that you haven’t done your research on the prospect’s organization. To avoid that, state a few things you do know first, then ask the prospect to tell you more.

Tell me about your role. What does your day-to-day job entail?

An important follow up to the last question, this one helps you understand why this specific individual is the one handling the process of finding a solution for their company. You’ll likely learn things like their position title, the department they work for, where they fall in their organizational structure, the authority they have over making a final decision, and what other factors may affect their decision to choose your solution. You can use this information to help them navigate the process as seamlessly as possible. You can also use it to better predict what roadblocks may arise to prevent the sale from going all the way through.

We should note: you don’t have to deep-dive into every small detail of a person’s day-to-day responsibilities, and you shouldn’t expect them to give you all of the information mentioned above in their answer. Asking this question gives you important context so that you can better understand your prospect’s behavior, needs, and motivations throughout the process.

Talk me through the problem you’re trying to solve.

Remember we talked about finding out whether or not a prospective deal was worth pursuing? This is a key question in making that determination. When you ask your prospect to describe the problems they’re facing, you should listen to their answer with the intention of learning if their problem is a good fit for your solution.

Most of the time, you’ll find that your prospect’s problems and your solution do fit. After all, we live in a world where most of a buyer’s research has already been performed before the first discovery call. Now you know more about their specific pain points, and you can talk with more confidence about how your solution can help this prospect in particular.

If you can tell it is not a good fit, however, it’s best to be honest with your prospect and let the deal go without wasting your time or theirs.

How does your company address that problem now?

When you do find a problem and solution fit, it’s a good idea to follow up with this question to understand what your prospect’s company is already doing to address their current challenges. This question allows you to customize your sales pitch later on to cover specific ways that your solution is better than their current status quo.

What interested you about our solution?

This question is a casual way to gain insight into a few things. First, tracking the answers to this question over time as a key data point can help you pinpoint what’s drawing your customers to your solution and capitalize on those features and benefits to improve conversion rates. Second, it benefits you during each individual sales process because you can focus on the things that are most important and relevant to that prospect and their company.

Who else on your team is involved in finding your solution?

One of the most important things for sales reps to know is who will be involved in making the final decision. There’s nothing more frustrating and time consuming than continually working to close a deal while your point of contact goes back and forth with vaguely mentioned decision makers.  This question is a starting point for learning who will eventually be involved in closing the deal.

The thing to remember here is not to be pushy — you don’t want it to seem like you’re worrying about a final decision while the prospect is still in their own discovery phase. Only ask it once, and frame it in the context of wanting to provide needed information for all relevant roles and perspectives.

What does an ideal solution look like from your perspective?

It’s a good idea to start managing expectations from the start. Prospects tend to have a wish list for their potential solutions, and they want one that ideally checks every box. Ask this question to find out how your solution stacks up to your customers expectations and start demonstrating how it will align with their vision. In cases where there are some boxes you don’t check (this is likely most of the time) you can think about how you’ll communicate these gaps and focus effectively on what you can do. And, in cases where you can tell right away that your solution is not a good fit, you can be honest and move on.

Where is this on your priority list?

You might hear mixed reviews about this sales discovery question, and we can actually understand why. The last thing you want is for your prospect to feel like your first priority is determining if and when you’re going to close a sale.

But we would argue that you actually do need to know this information, and it doesn’t mean that you’re going to dismiss prospects who are still far out from a final purchase. When you don’t know how high your prospect and their company are prioritizing a solution, you risk not knowing how to approach the sale after your discovery call is over.

Explain to your prospect that you want to know this information so you can provide them with the most important information they’ll need at this stage in the process and understand how to best communicate with them going forward. 

What potential curveballs might we encounter in the process?

Most of the time, we find that B2B purchase decision makers appreciate this question. It’s not easy to be the person choosing a solution for your company — after all, B2B purchases come with big financial investments and impact the entire organization, not just the person making the decision. When you ask this question, you put yourself on the same team as your prospect. 

You can say things like:

“I know getting to that final decision can be complex for most companies. What kind of curveballs might we encounter on the way there?” Once they answer, you can also ask how you can help them navigate through those challenges.

In the end, you can use this information for your own purposes by taking proactive steps to eliminate roadblocks that your prospect anticipates.

What do you see as our best next step?

Get this: win rates quadruple when next steps are discussed at any point during the sales process.

bar graph showing win rates significantly increase when next steps are discussed
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If there’s one question you should not leave out, it’s this one. You need to know what your customer sees as the best next step in the sales process so that you can follow through with it. If they don’t have one in mind, you can provide your suggested next steps to keep things on track. Either way, clearly defined and discussed next steps are what keeps your deal alive and holds both parties accountable to further action.

Our outbound email software and lead generation services are custom-built for startups, consultancies, marketing agencies, and other B2B organizations. Schedule a quick call with us and find out how we can help you win more clients.