Getting to know someone, particularly over a call, can be daunting. In the case of lead qualification, it’s necessary to build trusted relationships with prospects so that you can get to know them and introduce them to your business. But, it’s challenging to pick up the phone and call a stranger, and you want to leave a good impression, so where do you start? Properly prepare for your all-important conversations and put your best foot forward by discovering this 7 step sales discovery call structure to effectively qualify or disqualify prospects.
In the following guide you will discover:
- What is a Discovery Call in Sales?
- What are the benefits of discovery calls?
- How long should a sales discovery call be?
- The 7-Step Sales Discovery Call structure
- Best practices for running an effective sales discovery call
What is a Discovery Call in Sales?
A discovery call in sales is the first interaction or conversation with a prospect after showing interest in your solution. Therefore, it is the best opportunity to get to know the customer and gauge their interest in your business, which will either help you qualify or disqualify them as a prospect. In simple terms, the sales discovery call is a two-way conversation where sales reps vet prospects to identify whether the product or service matches their needs.
By the end of a sales discovery call, sales reps should know:
- If the prospect is a good or bad fit for your offering
- The prospects problem, current buying journey and timeline
- Whether there’s another decision-maker included in the process
- The next steps to discuss them with your sales team
What are the benefits of discovery calls?
Sales discovery calls are still an essential part of your lead qualification process; even though you can now communicate with prospects via email, chat and messages – phone calls are still most effective. By directly communicating with buyers, sales reps can listen and understand pain points without waiting for their answer – which allows them to provide empathy where necessary a lot faster – building a better foundation with the prospect overall. Alongside this significant advantage, other benefits include:
- Prospects better understand your business and product
- Helps reps empathise with prospects needs
- Helps offer the most relevant solution
- Starts a foundation for the buyer’s journey
- Establishes salespeople’s authenticity
- Better gauges your chances of winning their business
How long should a sales discovery call be?
The simple answer is that it depends. A typical sales discovery call can last between 15 minutes to 1 hour. The actual answer is that to determine how long your sales discovery call will be is to identify the customer lifetime value (LTV) alongside the estimated amount of time you think you’ll need to collect the relevant information from the prospect. For example, if the LTV is less than $2000, you can assume that a quick 15-minute call will be an appropriate amount of time. On the other hand, for complex products and services, you can expect to schedule a longer 1-hour call to ensure you have enough time to collect information and clarify specific challenges.
However, don’t necessarily assume that one extreme (longer or shorter) is better than the other. As it turns out, according to Mindtickle’s analysis of discovery calls found that on average, the calls that led to closed-won deals were between 30-40 minutes.
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The 7-Step Sales Discovery Call structure
It’s a common sales mistake to talk exclusively about yourself and your products. Prospects want to know what’s in it for them, and you want to know what they need to be satisfied enough to buy your solution.
But how do you skillfully discover if a prospect needs your product? You follow a sales discovery call structure that extracts valuable information and makes the prospect feel that you’re prioritising their needs with the best intentions. If you want to win more deals, you need to know the best 7-step sales discovery call structure; discover and swipe it below:
1. Preparation: Pre-sales discovery call research
The first step to a successful sales discovery call is preparing for every prospect who schedules a call. To do this, you’ll need to know enough about them to build rapport, uncover painful challenges and ultimately be as productive as possible in your discovery call together, even in cases of prospects who you disqualify, as it helps you to identify them quickly in future sales discovery calls.
To do your homework on the prospect and prepare for the discovery call, you must do at least two of these three things:
Discover and connect with prospects on LinkedIn
Contrary to popular belief, LinkedIn is not just a job-search platform. Few social media platforms offer as great an opportunity to increase your exposure to potential clientele as LinkedIn does – especially if you want to connect with buyers in a B2B space, LinkedIn is where it’s at. To research prospects, you can use the LinkedIn advanced search to find your target audience based on their job role, title, geography etc. However, before you do this, you must ensure you have a Linkedin Profile for Sales Professionals.
Once you’ve found your target client, you need to connect with them on LinkedIn. But please don’t do two things; the first is attempting to connect without a message because they likely don’t understand how you’re connected and won’t accept. The second one is; do not pitch, do not hard sell in the contact message. It’s often one of the prospect’s biggest pet peeves when the first thing salespeople do is send a barrage of PDFs about services and products. Ultimately, you should always follow our 4 golden rules for connecting with prospects on LinkedIn:
Not on LinkedIn? Google them
Even if they have LinkedIn, you should probably still Google prospects for relevant information like their website or other appropriate socials. However, if they don’t have a LinkedIn presence (it happens), a simple Google search will come to your rescue.
Please take note of anything on their website about what they’ve done recently in the last three to five years alongside any information about whether they need your solution or if they have already implemented something similar from competitors.
The aim of the sales discovery call is to determine whether the prospect has a need for the product or service. However, for this to transpire you must already have an idea of your ideal target customer. That’s why when reviewing prospects online or on LinkedIn, you should reflect on these lead qualification questions:
- What industries are my prospects into?
- What are the job titles of my prospects?
- What’s the ideal budget for my prospects?
It’s also key to remember that disqualifying prospects is equally as important; because selling is a matter of selling to the right person at the right time. A disqualified prospect may become qualified one day – so you need to know who they are.
2. Set a positive tone
The first five minutes of your discovery call will set the tone for the rest of the conversation. So if you’re not excited enough about potentially working together, it will come through clearly, and turn the prospect off – and more likely offend them.
Even if prospects can’t see you, they can hear your expressions and enthusiasm. That’s why you have to enter every sales discovery call with a positive mindset and bags of energy to show you’re genuinely interested in helping prospects.
Setting the tone right also requires being patient with the prospect and following their lead when it comes to the pace of the conversation. You can also show agreeability by mimicking or repeating critical parts of their sentences to show you’re listening to them.
3. Build rapport quickly
Even if you eventually disqualify the prospect by creating and growing relationships, you can often work together in the future at a time that works for them. That’s why building rapport with customers is one of the most critical steps in the sales process, as often a strong relationship with a customer creates mutual trust and a lasting relationship that can lead to repeat business. As the saying goes, ‘people do business with people they know, like and trust’, so it’s critical you build rapport and fast at the beginning of the discovery call. There are several ways to do this over the phone, including:
- Use their name: and know how to pronounce it. It helps you connect with them and for them to feel like you’ve heard them and that they’re an active part of the conversation.
- Remember manners: Be respectful of your prospect and any specific cultural business etiquette.
- Avoid robot voice: Avoid monotone, overly scripted speech; instead, over articulate your speech and mannerisms with the same tone you would call your friend.
- Smile: Prospects can hear you smile, so have a little chuckle and remember to have a good time.
4. Confirm the discovery call agenda
Introduce yourself, your business and your role within the organisation. Then, confirm the sales discovery call agenda with the prospect to ensure you’re facilitating a two-way conversation. You can do this by letting prospects know what they can expect to be discussed within the call and allowing them to add or remove anything from the discussion. For example, you could ask prospects questions like:
- “I’m here to discuss: X, Y, and Z. Are there any additional topics would you like to discuss or not discuss?
- “What are your expectations from this call?”
- “Are there any questions you’d like to ask me?”
Typically after asking these questions, salespeople will share something they found in their preliminary research of the prospect. For example, you could share something you noticed you have in common with them and continue the conversation from there. By doing so, you’ve confirmed the agenda and started on a positive foundation shaping the rest of the call.
5. Ask the right questions & clarify the prospect’s pain points
Customer pain points are specific problems that your prospective customers are currently experiencing. Pain points are essentially problems that your prospect has, such as frustrations, obstacles, threats and inefficiencies that limit their growth or success in some way. That’s why you need to help prospects diagnose their issues, similar to what a doctor or mechanic would use before writing a prescription or estimate. It’s critical to ask prospective customers these questions to quickly analyse their needs (and pain points) to provide them with a valuable solution. For example, you could ask prospects questions to uncover helpful information such as:
- What goal is your business trying to achieve right now?
- How does your current process work?
- Which specific areas are you looking to improve?
- What is stopping you from reaching that goal?
- How did you try to solve the roadblock stopping you from reaching your goal?
- How long does it take for you to decide [X]?
- What is at stake if your company doesn’t reach this goal?
- What is your budget for achieving this goal?
- How many decision-makers are involved?
- Do you have any concerns or questions about our product that I can address?
- What drove you to consider our product?
- What do you want most from a solution?
- How satisfied are you with X?
- What’s your biggest challenge as it relates to x?
6. Develop a vision and present a solution
Now is the time to pivot your prospect’s pain points and struggles to demonstrate the value of how your innovative solutions help solve them. To do so, you must pinpoint the real-world problem the customer is currently facing and explain how your product can solve the problem in the best way possible. Because prospects still need sales professionals to help anticipate, contextualise and implement the solutions available to them.
7. Schedule your next call before closing
Now you’ve gathered plenty of information about the prospect, you can determine and recommend which solution is best suited to their needs. This requires pivoting your prospect’s pain points and struggles to demonstrate the value of how your innovative solutions help solve them. To do so, you must pinpoint the real-world problem the customer is currently facing and explain how your product can solve the problem in the best way possible. Because although the sales process has largely changed, prospects still need sales professionals to help anticipate, contextualise and implement the solutions available to them.
Best practices for running an effective sales discovery call
Although the 8-step sales discovery call structure is a great place to begin, there are several best practices all salespeople must implement for better results:
Do your homework and learn as much as you can about your prospects before having that all-important conversation. By conducting this research, you will help you make the most of the discovery call by asking meaningful and valuable questions.
Start by researching your lead on Google or LinkedIn to find the relevant information and something that you can connect on. For instance, do you support the same sports team? Enjoy the music of the same singer? Lived in the same city? You’ll find that by having this information, leads will be more likely to trust you as they see you as relatable; because people fundamentally like people, like them.
Then use this information to create a discovery call agenda that encompasses all the questions you need to ask to determine whether the lead is a good fit.
Set an agenda
You need to stick to the plan when conducting sales discovery calls. While you may be excited to connect with the prospect to teach them more about how your solution can help solve their challenges – you need to show that you respect the prospect’s time.
That’s why it’s crucial to set an agenda and stick to it because the first few minutes of a discovery call will set the tone for the remainder of the meeting.
When planning your agenda, begin by introducing yourself, your company and your role within the organisation. Then share the goals of the meeting with the prospect to ensure you’re meeting their expectations.
Have a two-way conversation
Always facilitate a two-way conversation to learn more about your prospects needs, wants and challenges. This approach means listening far more than talking; in fact, data shows that top-performing reps only 50% of the time during a discovery call. To achieve this, avoid asking yes or no questions, and don’t rapidly run through questions like a robot – engage in a conversation where you validate and empathise with their pain points.
End on a positive note
The overarching goal of a sales discovery call is to leave your prospect with a good feeling about you, your company and your solution. Because even if they don’t choose you as a solution provider, they can still generate a word-of-mouth buzz around you and your business – sending qualified connections your way.
To achieve this, be sure you empathise with their pain points, clarify them to show you’ve understood them and then underline how your solution helps solve them using testimonials and data as proof.
Be a product expert
In the eyes of your customer, you are the business, so be prepared to share the history and mission of your organization alongside specific product information. To advise prospects on the best possible solution for their needs, you must have complete knowledge of the benefits and features of your offerings.
Customers want to know how your product is tested, modified, and retested, with performance data and specifications often being most important to most prospects. They also often want information about maintenance and service contracts, which is why you should supply accurate price and delivery information about your products (and those of your competitors). If your products are more complex and expensive, you’re more likely to get a favourable response (especially in B2B selling) if your proposal contains return-on-investment (ROI) selling appeals.
Ultimately, the easiest ways to become a product expert are to use your product, see how it’s made, talk to your team, listen to customer feedback, and read trade and technical publications.
When leads are qualified properly, less time is wasted on people not likely to buy from you; allowing you to hone in on the ones who are.
SOCO’s lead qualification training incorporates MEDDIC and MEDDPICC sales qualifying methodologies, depending on the deal size and buying process of our clients.
Our sales qualifying training is designed to train teams to develop the skills needed to assess and rate their leads, allowing them to determine the best way to effectively handle each lead.