So many sales reps today underutilize the power of the well-run discovery call. With the right discovery call framework, you can qualify your leads, gather invaluable intel, and position yourself as a trustworthy authority—all in a single phone call.
Today I’m showing you how to structure your discovery calls so you can reap all these benefits and more. Trust me, you won’t want to miss this proven 8-step framework. Because it’s going to save you tons of time and make your sales job infinitely easier.
The Perfect Discovery Call
How many times have you spent hours, days, or even weeks of hard work with a potential buyer, only to find out they were never a fit for your product in the first place?
Don’t worry, you aren’t alone.
As much as 67% of lost sales are the result of sales reps not properly qualifying their leads. And more than a third of reps just like you say qualifying and prospecting were the biggest challenges of their roles.
In fact, I brought up this problem in particular in a recent interview.
“If you are sick of being rejected, if you’re sick of people ghosting you, if you’re sick of people not replying to your messages, improve your qualification at the top of the sales process, and you’ll eliminate a lot of that at the far end of it.” Will Barron, SS #019
Qualification matters. When you do it right, you’re saving yourself tons of headaches, hassles, and lost time down the road.
And the discovery call is without a doubt the best opportunity to qualify leads.
Over the years, I’ve developed an 8-point framework for running strategic discovery calls with my potential clients. And that’s exactly what I’m sharing with you today.
Plus, I’m covering very specific questions along the way that you should ask prospects that cover each issue without scaring them off.
Ready to go? Let’s get into it.
To get the most value out of your discovery call as possible, you’re going to qualify potential leads according to eight issues throughout the meeting. The first issue is…
1) Are They In Pain?
Are they in pain?
Is their issue actually a problem? And most importantly, is the buyer in “pain” because of that problem? The buyers you want to work with are feeling the hurt from their problem. And as a result, they’re going to be highly motivated to find the right solution, which is exactly what you want.
Questions you can ask that get to the heart of this issue include…
“You booked this call with me today, what led to getting this call booked in?”
“What’s stopping you from solving this issue yourself?”
2) What Is Their Timeline?
Not all problem and solution timelines are going to line up. One of your primary concerns when qualifying prospects is what their timeline is for when they need their problem solved.
Are they thinking today? This quarter? Or in the next few years?
The right answer for your industry will depend entirely on your unique business and solution. But in general, you should only be working with buyers that are interested in solving the problem sooner rather than later.
To determine their timeline, ask a question like…
“When do you want to solve this pain?” Straightforward, right? This question doesn’t mince words. And as a result, the answer gives you a clear, no-bullshit timeline that the buyer is hoping to solve their problem.
3) Can I Fix This Problem?
Time for an honesty check ladies and gentlemen.
There’s no perfect product or service for everyone. And saying otherwise is just playing into the public’s idea of sales reps being con men.
Instead, it’s your job to think of yourself as someone who offers value. So don’t waste time with buyers that’ll be dissatisfied with what your product can offer.
Two questions in particular to ask yourself, not the buyer, are…
“Do I have the solution for this buyer’s problem?”
Be honest here. Does your solution actually solve the buyer’s problem? Or is it more of a bandaid?
“Do they really need this solution?”
Is there a better solution they can implement on their own? Is yours really necessary? If not and the sale goes through, the buyer will likely resent you once they find out they could have easily solved the problem themselves. And that means negative reviews, zero loyalty, and no earned referrals.
4) Is The Solution Worth The Trouble?
There are downsides to any new solution. Buyers need to change vendors, hire new staff, train on novel systems, or fight for a change to the budget.
The question is, is the value your solution provides worth that discomfort?
How much will they have to change to accommodate it? And when all is said and done, will they look back on the investment as a good purchase or one that ate up too many resources?
Going through this calculation upfront is a must during the qualification of sales leads.
Questions to ask here include…
“How would things be different if we solved this for you?”
“What is your motivation to make this happen?”
“If we took your business from $X to $Y, how would that change things?”
5) Do They Accept Your Process?
Be sure your buyer is willing to adapt to your process before working with you. Check to see if they’re willing to stop working with current vendors, put in the necessary time for training, and whatever other “musts” need to be done to get maximum value from your solution.
Buyers who won’t adapt to your processes (or who require too much work on your end) should be turned away.
A clear question to ask here is…
“When your organization has done similar projects in the past, what paperwork process needed to happen?”
This question gives you a clearer idea of what lies ahead should the buyer be a reasonable fit. How much work will they have to put in to overhaul their system? How much work will you have to put into training and getting their team up to speed?
6) Can They Afford It?
Can they even afford your solution? Now, you want to be careful with this one because people get a bit weird about money. So don’t jump right into finances. Instead, lead up to budgetary questions. Handle the subject professionally and use direct communication. Think of it as just another aspect of the qualification process.
Questions to ask here include…
“How are projects like this funded?”
“Is a project like this in this year’s budget?”
“What financial scope do you have to solve this issue?”
7) Who Is The Champion Here?
Who is the champion here? The final decision maker?
More often than not, your buyer’s decision is going to be influenced by other individuals in the business. It could be heads of other departments, higher-ups in the C-suite, or even influential team members below them.
That’s why it’s important to figure out who these other individuals (or “champions”) are before you decide the buyer’s a fit.
Doing so clues you into whether your prospect is the final decision maker and if there’s someone else you should be talking to instead.
An important question to ask here is…
“Who is the person that people look up to within your department on projects like this?”
This subtler approach is bound to help you uncover any hidden decision-makers that may influence the passing of the deal.
8) Will They Commit?
The last thing you want is for a high-quality lead to run off after you’ve put in all the work to qualify them.
That’s why it’s up to you to get your buyer’s verbal commitment on the call. Otherwise, they’re liable to walk away after days or even weeks of your hard work.
So when you’ve determined that a buyer is a solid lead, don’t hang up the phone before asking this discovery call question.
“You’re a good fit to work with us. If we can solve X, will you commit to Y?”
This time-tested formula has it all—validation, a hint of flattery, results anchoring. By asking this question, you’re tying your solution to a specific result. And equally importantly, you’re influencing the buyer to commit to that solution, provided you can achieve the results you promise.
If the buyer looks like a good fit based on all these issues, the only thing left to do now is nail down the specifics and sign the papers.
That about wraps this framework up! Discovery calls are an invaluable tool for qualifying prospects, gathering more intel, and positioning yourself as an indisputable authority. All it takes is assessing prospects on these eight issues…
- Are They In Pain?
- What Is Their Timeline?
- Can I Fix This Problem?
- Is The Solution Worth The Trouble?
- Do They Accept Your Process?
- Can They Afford It?
- Who Is The Champion Here?
- Will They Commit?
If you’ve evaluated potential buyers on each of these issues during your discovery call, you’ll waste less time with prospects, have more time to spend closing good deals, and be well on your way to earning more with less stress.
And who in their right mind wouldn’t love that?