How to Weed Out Bad Clients – 9 Discovery Call Questions

Want to find better buyers and weed out the crappy leads that only end up wasting your time? Then be sure to ask the 9 qualification questions we’re talking about in this video on each of your discovery calls.

Diagnosis calls are slightly different to traditional discovery calls because they cover discovery, qualification, product positioning and micro-closing in a single call rather than spreading all of this out over multiple engagements.

1) Uncovering Pain

Is your prospect dealing with a problem? And are they in enough “pain” to drive the right amount of urgency to buy?

A “yes” to both is downright necessary. And to get to the bottom of it, you can ask two questions in particular…

“You booked this call with me today, what led to getting this call booked in?”

What’s the main reason they’re talking with you right now? You’ll have to do a bit more digging of course. But even in the most tight-lipped buyers you’ll still uncover at least a kernel of truth.

“What’s stopping you from solving this issue yourself?”

One of my favorite follow-ups to the previous question. Not only does this question uncover any roadblocks to implementation you may hit down the road. But it also gives you a clearer idea of how big this problem really is. Because if it really was a problem, the buyer should have been working to solve it themselves.

2) Timeframes

Not all timelines will line up. And one of your chief concerns when qualifying is whether your prospect’s timeline matches your own.

When do they want this problem solved? Today? This quarter? Next year?

As a rule of thumb, the buyers you want to work with should all want to solve their problems quickly. Because if they don’t have urgency, they won’t be compelled to act. And that might mean feet dragging, ghosting, and an overall waste of your time.

“When does this issue need to be solved by?”

This straightforward question gives you no-bullshit timeline you can use to assess if your timeframes are a match.

3) Confirming Fit

And for this category, you actually need to ask yourself

“Do I have the solution for this buyer’s problem?”

Honesty is key here. The best reps don’t oversell their product’s capabilities. Why? Because they know a dissatisfied and duped buyer ruins reputations, doesn’t provide referrals, and never ever comes back to buy again. So you need to think long and hard about whether your solution will really make the buyer’s problem a thing of the past.

4) Calculating ROI

No matter how big or how small, every new solution takes effort to implement. 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?

You can start figuring that out by asking…

“How would things be different if we solved this for you?”

What will actually change for the buyer once they implement your solution? Is it a simple quality of life difference? Or does the switch lead to real change for the business on a fundamental level? This one’s key because no matter how well you think you understand the industry, every business is different. And asking the buyer outright will give you better insight into the real value your solution offers.

5) Understanding 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.

To get to the bottom of this one, ask…

“When your organization has done similar projects in the past, what 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? Basically, is the work required reasonable or out of line?

6) Agreeing Budget

As Experiment 27 Founder Alex Berman told me in our interview…

“Find the right people because if your buyers have a budget and they’re ready to buy, it’s very easy to close them.” Interview with Alex Berman, Founder & Chairman of Experiment 27 [23:35] – Salesman.com Podcast

Budget talks can be touchy subjects, it’s true. Which is why you may want to avoid the topic until later in the conversation.

But on the other hand, you need to be 100% clear on whether your prospect has the funds to pay for your solution. Otherwise, what are we talking about here?

“How are projects like this funded?”

Not all projects fall under a clean and uniform budget. Sometimes they’re spread over multiple teams and departments instead.

With this open-ended question, you’re getting a better idea of how many hoops your buyer will have to jump through to get proper funding.

On top of that, you’ll have a better idea if they’re the final decision-maker or if they’ll have to loop in other department heads before settling on yes or no.

7) Identifying the Champion

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. And is there someone else you should be talking to here?

“If you were to make a purchase decision, who else would help with that process?”

Without asking the question directly, this subtler approach will help you uncover any other decision-makers that may influence the passing of the deal. It also avoids hurting the buyer’s pride. After all, no one wants to feel like they aren’t in charge here.

8) Getting Agreement

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 end the call before asking the discovery call question below.

“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. After that, the only thing left to do is nail down the specifics and sign the papers.

So there you have it, 9 probing questions you should always be asking in your discovery calls.

If you ask each of these questions, you’ll have all the intel you need to know if the prospect you’re talking with is a picture-perfect fit or a fish you should throw back to sea.

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