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8 Essential Sales Discovery Questions

While interacting with many of the sales professionals in our workshop, one of the repetitive questions I came across is on the discovery questions. Opportunities will knock on your door at any moment, the best we can do to reap the benefit is to be ready. The flow of the questionnaire is not pre-decided and needs to be worked on the basis of the response. But we should be ready with a few fixed questions which will suit 95% of the sales discovery call.


In this article, we will be handpicking a few questions and a little bit of description of them. These should always be part of your questionnaire even if you are not prepared for the discovery session.


For those who are not aware of this terminology, Discovery questions are open-ended questions. answers which help us to determine whether the lead or the product or the service is a good fit or not and vice versa. This also includes identifying the challenges, obstacles, and cost-benefit for both customer and seller  


Key Principles of Great Discovery Questions:

  1. What is the Problem Statement?


Most companies will be ready to get in call with you only when they hear about you and they think you can be the right organization to provide the solution. Digging into identifying the problem statement will help save time for both you and the customer. This will set the course of the discussion. If you think you can solve the problem then we can go ahead with the different solutions. If not, then think of the ways your organization can help the customer. Ask about the areas in which your business holds the expertise. This way even if you are not getting the business you are making a good acquaintance.


  1. How Are You Addressing This Problem Today?


Now if you are clear with the problems of the customer, ask about the way the customer is dealing with it. The customer might not be dealing with it in the right way but must be having a work around it. We as solution providers can also take the workaround into consideration. It might be our Plan B if Plan A won’t work as expected.


  1. What should be the ideal outcome of any solution?


There are some ideas your customer/lead might be having for an ideal outcome. It might exactly be like your solution or something from your competitor’s offering. Ask questions about why and what exactly they need. If they are thinking of any fancy outcome, ask about the necessity of that. At the end of the day, both the customer and you should be fully aware of the problem, solutions, and the expected outcome


  1. What happens if you do nothing about the problem?


This question will validate the priority and necessity of any solution required for the problem. This also provides an idea of the sense of urgency of the customer. This will help you to frame the solutions you are going to provide in your upcoming discussion.

  1. How much is the customer ready to spend?


This question gives you a holistic view of the customer in getting the solutions to the problem. Although customers won’t be giving you the exact answer to this, there are chances that customers might give you an idea about the funds and where these funds are coming from. Is it being funded by one of the customers of your leads? This will affect your cost proposal. This will help you to gauge the leads better.

  1. Do you need a product or service to resolve the problem? 


This will be the first question of the list which is more related to the solution provider. This question will make the customer think about how to approach the solution. Should they go for customized services or for a complete but rigid product? How many obstacles the product solution is able to resolve? Do we need training? What will be the cost of the product upgrades in the coming year?

All these questions will be asked and discussed as a part of this discussion.

  1. What are the main obstacles to carrying out the plan?


Your lead as they are aware of the problem must have tried to solve it before. there might be some challenges that stopped them earlier. Is it the funding issue? or the organization is waiting for the leadership to change? Try to know those issues. It will help you to carve your plan in a much better way.

  1. How would you measure the success of this new solution?


To measure the performance we need the data. We measure and test those data against standards. If the comparison looks good then only we can name it as success or failure. We look into the details of those data and try to get more of the same kind of results. It’s a feedback circle that keeps on improving the process. Define and talk those metrics out with your customers. 

More Sales Insights


Discovery call sets the whole course of your discussion with a lead. If you fail to ask the right questions, you will probably get that chance again with that customer.

Unfortunately, this is the first step of the sales cycle and is not straightforward. So one has to make real efforts in doing this correctly on the first go.  An expert can help you out in practising the skill of asking questions.