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Discovery Calls: How to Execute Calls Worth Everyone’s Time

photo of a sales rep on a discovery call

For sales representatives, there’s nothing more attractive than closing calls. These are calls where the deal gets moved across the line, contracts get signed and reps earn their commissions. Unfortunately, closing calls depend on who you’re selling to and could take you tens of hours.

This is where discovery calls come to the rescue.

Round one of almost all sales pits you against a prospect in the ring by way of discovery call. Once a lead surrenders their contact info to your website, they’re officially entered into your sales funnel as prospects. But before they make it all the way to making a purchase, you’ll need to know each other a bit more.

That’s why the first call after connecting with a prospect is actually the most important action in the process. For both pre and post-sale, it sets the tone for the entire working relationship. So you’ll either come out on top by establishing an authoritative relationship, or you’re stuck playing catch up the entire time.

What is a Discovery Call?

For sales representatives, there’s nothing more attractive than closing calls. These are calls where the deal gets moved across the line, contracts get signed and reps earn their commissions. Unfortunately, closing calls depend on who you’re selling to and could take you tens of hours.

This is where discovery calls come to the rescue.

Round one of almost all sales pits you against a prospect in the ring by way of discovery call. Once a lead surrenders their contact info to your website, they’re officially entered into your sales funnel as prospects. But before they make it all the way to making a purchase, you’ll need to know each other a bit more.

That’s why the first call after connecting with a prospect is actually the most important action in the process. For both pre and post-sale, it sets the tone for the entire working relationship. So you’ll either come out on top by establishing an authoritative relationship, or you’re stuck playing catch up the entire time.

Simply put, a discovery call is the first conversation a rep has with a prospect after they show initial interest in a product. The main aim of these discovery calls is to either qualify a prospect or stop wasting further time by disqualifying them.

The worst mistake you can do is failing to discover exactly what your prospects need. If you continue to impart info on your services and products without a discovery call, then you’re most likely wasting both you and the buyer’s time.

Time wasted on unqualified leads quickly adds up to hours in dead calls. So if you’re looking to save both time and money, here’s how to properly execute discovery calls in 7 simple steps.

1: Do Your Homework

Before making the first call, you need to know enough about your prospect to hit the ground running. The aim is to be as productive as possible in the discovery call. It also helps if you learn a bit about prospects who show interest but never schedule a call. This will allow you to disqualify them as future prospective buyers.

So, how do you carry out efficient sales call planning? The first action is to look your prospect up on Linkedin and grab as much details as you can on what they’re all about. You’ll find everything you need to know in their profiles. If they have no Linkedin, try searching on Google as well as their personal website to find out what they’ve been up to the last few years.

Depending on why you want the prospect as a customer, try to learn more specific things about them. Discovery is all about finding out whether a lead is a good fit for your company or not. But for that to happen, you need to know what your ideal customer looks like.

So before you go for a certain archetype of prospect, try to answer the questions below.

  • Who do I want to work with?
  • What is their job title?
  • Is the market big enough?
  • Where can I find the prospect online or offline?
  • Will their budget be sufficient?
  • Are we all set for win-win results?

Remember, you’re in the business of selling solutions. So it’s more than fine to admit that you can’t help certain people. This will keep you focused on leads you can actually help and strengthen the pipeline as well. Disqualifying leads before taking the relationship to the next level is just as crucial as qualifying them

One more critical tip is to remember that with all the relevant information about people online, you can end up wasting a lot of time here also. So try to limit your planning time before a discovery call to about 15 minutes.

Before making the first call, you need to know enough about your prospect to hit the ground running. The aim is to be as productive as possible in the discovery call. It also helps if you learn a bit about prospects who show interest but never schedule a call. This will allow you to disqualify them as future prospective buyers.

So, how do you carry out efficient sales call planning? The first action is to look your prospect up on Linkedin and grab as much details as you can on what they’re all about. You’ll find everything you need to know in their profiles. If they have no Linkedin, try searching on Google as well as their personal website to find out what they’ve been up to the last few years.

Depending on why you want the prospect as a customer, try to learn more specific things about them. Discovery is all about finding out whether a lead is a good fit for your company or not. But for that to happen, you need to know what your ideal customer looks like.

So before you go for a certain archetype of prospect, try to answer the questions below.

  • Who do I want to work with?
  • What is their job title?
  • Is the market big enough?
  • Where can I find the prospect online or offline?
  • Will their budget be sufficient?
  • Are we all set for win-win results?

Remember, you’re in the business of selling solutions. So it’s more than fine to admit that you can’t help certain people. This will keep you focused on leads you can actually help and strengthen the pipeline as well. Disqualifying leads before taking the relationship to the next level is just as crucial as qualifying them

One more critical tip is to remember that with all the relevant information about people online, you can end up wasting a lot of time here also. So try to limit your planning time before a discovery call to about 15 minutes.

2: Set a Call Duration

Before picking up your phone and kick starting the discovery call, you’ll need to establish the ideal length for the call. This usually depends on the lifetime value of your ideal customer. If their lifetime value is below $1500, then a 15 minute discovery call is apt.

However, prospects with LTVs of between $5000 to 15,000, then about 30 minutes to one hour will be more appropriate. For instance, coaching professionals might want to take an hour long call if you’ll be getting into assessments and begin offering real value.      

Enterprise sales can take even longer than that. If the lifetime value of your customer is about 7 figures, a discovery call could go on the entire day. What’s more, it’ll most likely be followed up by more calls or a face to face meeting with additional people.

3: Build a Great Rapport

Being personable is hands down one of the most important elements of a good discover call. It pays to have the attitude where even if you don’t make the sale, you can still find a few commonalities and work together in future. This helps build a rapport quicker as opposed to just getting down to business.

Ask basic questions such as where the prospect is from or how they grew up. Try to mention something you both have in common from your research. It’s always great to break the ice and ease the situation first. Prospecting is not a perfect tool, but you ideally want to close every person you chat with.

Be ready to have tens of calls with people you’ll likely end up disqualifying. Fortunately, discovery calls help filter out bad fits as much as it helps find great prospects. Once you’ve built a solid rapport, you’ll want to transition to the main purpose of the call. But remember, this rapport has to be maintained to guarantee you’re being personable enough to keep the convo light.

Read up more on how to attract customers remotely.

4: Follow a Discovery Call Script

Whether you’re doing a cold call or discovery, a script should be used as the bare foundation of discovery calls and responses. A great script is mainly several talking points simply listed in the order that you want to discuss them. The order is based on the sales process that is most likely to get you to the next step in the pipeline or close a deal.    

The script should be based on the prospects most commonly asked questions and provide the rep with clear answers that allow them to come off as experts. How quickly and efficiently a rep is able to answer common questions is the major tell here.

You also need to be familiar with the broader strokes of the industry in addition to questions about your products and services. You will immediately lose points with your lead if they ask questions about trends and you don’t have answers. Needless to say, that might be the end of your sale right there.

5: Ensure Two-Way Conversation

Research shows that top performing sales reps talk roughly 50% of the time during discovery calls. Although the ideal talk-listen ratio varies, it helps to listen a bit more than you talk. The best way to ensure two way conversations is to avoid asking questions that the prospect can answer with a simple yes or no.

This will allow them to expand on their thoughts. For instance, instead of asking someone if they are happy with their current CRM, you could phrase it differently. Ask them what issues they might have with their CRM to allow for a more complete answer.

Next up, you need to validate the prospects pain points so they feel understood. Phrases such as “Oh, your team is really struggling with (this pain point) and you seem very determined to make things right.”

And lastly, try not to run through your questions like an android. Work them naturally into the conversation and allocate plenty of time for discussion between each. Your leads want to feel heard and understood as opposed to grilled and interviewed.

And if your mouth gets dry from talking for too long, it might be time to shut up and let your prospect have a turn. Keep the conversation balanced so you get the chance to learn about your leads.

6: Close the Deal

If you’re in sales, it always pays to have a bit of savvy. It takes a lot of awareness to know when the sale has flopped and when to stop the chase. However, it also takes a lot of skill to know when a prospect is making excuses and turn that no into a yes.

For instance, prospects that want to close an opportunity before a discovery call they might be reluctant to buy anything from you. But if you personally reach out to someone who you know is a great target, you’ll want to try every trick in the book to overcome objections. Add in the fact that it takes a ton of skill to persuade the prospect and the whole thing can get a bit complex.

As a golden rule, always attempt to close the deal only when both you and the prospect are confident that it’s beneficial to work together. By now, you probably already have a rapport and have built some trust – time to score a yes. Ask the prospect if there’s anything you offer that they’d like.

But if you don’t want to be too direct, you can offer to send details of the next steps though an email to establish the follow up date. If you get a schedule for the next call, that indicates high intent from the prospect. This means you can give them more attention in the final steps of the sales process.

If you receive a yes for later, simply add the prospect to your pipeline and follow up at a later time. These leads will build slowly overtime until you can use your pipeline to close deals whenever you want.

Additional Read: How to Close more Deals in a Complex Sales World.

Discovery Questions to Ask Prospects

In addition to being a chance for the prospects to get to know you, discovery calls are an opportunity for you to determine if you’ve got a good fit for your company. The following questions tackle both these fronts.

photo of a sales rep virtual selling

I: What goal is your business striving to achieve?

What you need to know is that not every prospect is going to have goals your products can solve. Fortunately, there’s no problem with this. Just gauge whether your services or products are a good fit for the buyer before you ask this question.

II: What are the major roadblocks to achieving your goal?

If you can understand what the prospect is struggling with, you can get a better image of how your product can help. For instance, you could be selling CRM software and the prospects points out that their past tools were a tad confusing. Here, you could highlight your commodity’s ease of use to reassure the buyer.

III: What will go wrong if you fail to achieve your goal?

This question will encourage prospects to come to terms with consequences of failing to use your product. After that, they’re more likely to realize its value. The answer you get will give you a sense of how urgently they need a solution.

IV: Who is involved in the decision process?

If your prospect is the sole decision-maker, then your challenge is to win them over. However, you’ll need to brainstorm how to appeal to a wider audience if the buyer is part of a group.

V: What is your budget?

Although it might feel a bit early in the relationship to talk about money, you need to know how much the prospect is willing to spend. Failing to do so means you won’t be able to assess compatibility.

Conclusion on Discovery Calls

Not all company’s goals or needs will match the product you’re selling. Discovery calls will help you figure this out early on so that your time isn’t wasted down the line. You’ll know you’ve run a great discover call if you and the prospect can formulate a written plan and delineate the steps to come.  

Speaking of calls that matter, make sure every second counts with Veloxy Mobile. Veloxy Mobile is an AI-powered sales and data management assistant which guides sales reps to take the right actions at the right time. It proactively feeds you email notifications, upcoming meetings, prospect and opportunity details and priority tasks, based on your context and location.

It also logs calls, email and texts into Salesforce for you. Veloxy Mobile makes it a no-brainer to add and update leads, contacts and opportunities on the go, instead of waiting till later or not at all. Doing so, lets you get more out of Salesforce with less effort, and gives you 60+ minutes extra selling time per day.

It’s also up to you to customize your opener and tweak your pitch according to the prospect you’re calling. If you’re still struggling with low conversion rates, you can also check out our article on turning cold calls into warm leads. It’ll show you how to use Veloxy to sieve out and warm up interested parties to a discovery call.

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Conclusion on Discovery Calls

Samir Majumdar

Samir Majumdar

Samir is the CEO and Co-founder of Veloxy. After spending 20+ years creating corporate systems, boosting revenue, and eliminating inefficiencies, Samir started Veloxy to help sales professionals shorten sales cycles, accelerate pipelines, and close more deals.

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