A step-by-step guide on how to do a discovery call

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It’s a great feeling when a prospect thanks you after a very pleasant discovery call and looks forward to hearing from you. This is the goal we all want and should be why you’re here to find out how to achieve this.

The key to a successful discovery call is to not only think about what you want to get out of it, but rather put yourself in the shoes of the buyer and think about what they want.

Whether a discovery call was set up through the inbound channel or a result from your cold outreach, your hard work has paid off. When a prospect is willing to take time out of their day to have a call with you, this means you have piqued their interest and more importantly, you have their attention. Let’s not lose this.

As part of the sales process, the discovery call is a crucial step. As well as both parties discussing the idea of a potential business partnership, it is also the crossroad at which a prospect can walk with you or walk away.

In this post, we will look at how to get the right prospects to continue their buyer’s journey with you and how to establish long-lasting relationships from your discovery calls.

What is a discovery call?

A discovery call is a call where both the buyer and the seller discover if there is a potential fit for a business relationship. It is an opportunity for you to ask questions about their needs and goals to discern if you should progress them to the next stage of the selling process.

A discovery call is set up when an interested prospect requests or agrees to it to learn more about your company’s offering. It may not necessarily be your first call with the prospect as you could have reached out to them initially through a cold call, but it is the first scheduled call.

How to ask for a discovery call?

How you ask for a discovery call will depend on your initial interaction with the prospect. Here are a few ways a prospect can develop an interest in your company and how you would ask for a discovery call:

  • Cold call your prospect

As part of the outbound sales strategy, a successful cold call will primarily result in a short conversation where you share your value proposition with the prospect. If they seem interested, you can simply ask for a date and time that suits them to explore the idea further. Once they agree, make sure to follow up your phone call with an email to thank them for their time and send an invite to secure it in their calendar.

  • Send your prospect a cold email

Another part of the outbound sales strategy is to execute a cold email campaign. By personalising your email along with a message of value that is relevant to the prospect, your goal is to get a reply from them. Once you receive a reply, you have the opportunity to engage in an email conversation that should lead to a discovery call. The same can be achieved via social selling also.

  • Persuade a website visitor to complete a web form

This would be part of an inbound marketing strategy where website visitors may download material from your website or sign up for a newsletter. To access gated content like this, website visitors must provide some basic information about themselves. This information can be passed on to the sales team to follow up via phone or email to understand if there is a possible problem they need solving. Once the initial conversation has begun, an opportunity opens up to ask if they would like a discovery call.

How long should your discovery call ideally be?

A discovery call can be any amount of time, but generally somewhere between 10 to 30 minutes. You should have enough time in the call to explain what you do in more detail, ask the necessary questions, and for the buyer to ask questions of their own.

Depending on the solution you are selling, the discovery call can be short. If the solution provided is not complex or the buyer has already made a decision from their own research, the call can quickly progress to the next step in the selling process.

However, if the solution is complex or may involve multiple decision-makers, it could result in a much longer call to explain the solution clearly as well as taking time to qualify the prospect more in-depth.

What is the purpose of a discovery call?

The purpose of a discovery call is for both the seller and the buyer to qualify one another. By each party asking qualifying questions, the goal is to see if there is a fit between the seller’s solution and the buyer’s needs, pain points and goals.

From the seller’s perspective, their objective would be to understand the buyer’s problem and see how it can be solved. The seller would also try to discover if there are any inefficiencies in the buyer’s business. This could include paying too much for a similar solution or where time could be saved in certain processes. The seller would also need to determine if the buyer has the potential of becoming a long-term customer by assessing budget and urgency for a solution.

From the buyer’s perspective, their objective is to determine if the seller understands the details of their situation. They would also need to have any questions answered along with knowing the cost of the solution. It is important for the buyer to develop a positive relationship with the seller and trust that the seller can consistently and reliably deliver a high-quality solution.

How to structure a discovery call?

We’ll now break down the steps you should take to do a discovery call. These steps are as follows:

  1. Research and prepare for your discovery call
  2. Get into the right mindset
  3. Ask qualifying questions about their pain points, goals and needs
  4. Close the call and always agree on next steps
  5. Evaluate your calls

Bear in mind that your prospect may be looking at other companies for similar solutions. As important as the solution itself is, people like to work with people they like. The impression you give can greatly impact their decision making so it is important that every step is followed thoroughly and genuinely.

Research and prepare for your discovery call

This step alone can help you stand out from other competitors. You should not expect to just run through the same set of generic questions for every discovery call you have. Using a fixed set of questions will only make it less likely to make a good first impression and even open yourself up for embarrassment when you don’t know basic information about them.

It would be a real shame to get caught hoping to “blag” your way through the call. Consider that your prospect has taken time out of their day to speak with you and may have even researched about your company too.

The point of this step is that you want the call to go as smooth as possible and to give your prospect an enjoyable experience. The call should be personalised and include questions specific to them so that you couldn’t ask it to anyone else. By personalising your call, you invite them to open up more about themselves and develop rapport quickly. Not only will they see your professionalism, but the commitment you give on the call will illustrate how your company commits to its customers.

Here are the things you should know about before your discovery call:

  • Company information

You can research about the company on their website, social media profiles or review websites. You will also want to have a general understanding of what the company’s values and goals are. Some questions to find answers for could be: what the company does, what industry they are in, how many employees are there, who are the possible decision-makers, and what technologies are they using or have used previously.

  • Prospect information

Researching your prospect on LinkedIn is a great place to start. You should check out their career history to give you an idea of their level of experience. The length of time they have been at the company may also help determine how open they are to change. Also, any other personal interests they have or the achievements they have accomplished can be a great conversation starter.

From your research, there may be some pieces of information you may not be able to find out on your own. However, from what you know, prepare your questions around it and anticipate any possible objections that may come your way.

For instance, if you notice they are already using a similar product, you can do some competitive research to demonstrate the key differences and additional benefits they could gain. If they are part of a larger team, you could ask about any other team members who may also be involved in the decision-making process to then include them in future conversations.

Get into the right mindset

This step may be overlooked by many people but is crucial in having a successful discovery call. Many things can affect our behaviour and mindset such as having uncompleted tasks, the mood we may be in, or even if we are hungry.

It would be a very unfortunate way to lose a potential customer by going into a discovery call with a cluttered mind or feeling flustered. If a prospect sees you are not really giving them your full attention they will not be impressed, no matter how good your product or service is.

People can hear your emotion through the phone. In sales, it is often said to smile as you speak since people can pick up your expression. If you feel enthusiastic, they are likely to feel enthusiastic with you. On the other hand, if you feel tired or bored, your prospect will want to end the call very quickly.

Building rapport is critical to establishing a relationship. Instead of diving straight into your questions, learn how to break the ice and create a relaxing atmosphere. You can express something you genuinely found interesting about them from your research. A few minutes of chit-chat makes all the difference in establishing a friendly relationship and not making it feel like an interrogation.

So, how can you get into the right mindset? Here are a few points to be aware of before your discovery call:

  • Think positively

Yes, easier said than done. But we must remind ourselves we are all human and we make mistakes. By learning to go easy on ourselves, we can start to relax and present ourselves in a natural way rather than sounding as if we are reading from a script. Have fun with the prospect. Don’t be outcome orientated, but instead be process orientated and focus on staying calm and positive.

  •  Be willing to help

View yourself not so much as a sales rep, but more as a customer service rep. Be eager to see how you can help your prospect. This kind of mentality will have you looking for problems to solve and dive deeper into issues that matter to them. This level of attention and focus will make you stand out and be remembered.

  • Keep your long-term goals in mind

This will remind you of why you are working so hard. Whatever you are personally striving to achieve, focusing on your long-term goals before your discovery call will give you patience and a sense of ease. Thinking about your goals will make you feel comfortable, focused and motivated to do what it takes to accomplish them.

There are always going to be some things we have no control over. However, taking even just a few minutes before a discovery call to settle down and follow the points above can help to realign and get into the right mindset.

Ask qualifying questions about their pain points, goals and needs

Now you have established some rapport and are on friendly terms with the prospect, it’s time to get down to business. This does not mean you should become serious, but, gently steer the conversation towards the purpose of the discovery call while retaining the positive atmosphere you created.

Remember, during the discovery call there is not yet any need to go into the fine details of things (unless the prospect wants to). The aim is to discover if there is a potential sales opportunity. The prospect will also need to understand what you offer as well as determine if they need it.

  • Set the agenda of the discovery call

To give everyone the opportunity to ask questions, it is important to set the agenda of the call. The worst thing that can happen for both parties is to end the call with unanswered questions.

You should confirm with your prospect if the agreed duration of the call is still good for them. Find out from the prospect what they want to get out from the discovery call and then explain you will spend some time getting to know their situation better.

Clarifying the structure of the call will help the prospect know what to expect and put their mind at ease.

  • Qualify the prospect

From your research, you should have a basic understanding of your prospect and the company. Your questions should stem from your research asking about something not discoverable online.

Pick a few key criteria that help you to either qualify or disqualify a prospect from being a potential customer. Don’t be tempted to rush through your questions. Keep your questions spaced across the duration of the call to maintain a natural flow of conversation.

Here are some topics to help frame your questions around:

  • Further information about the company and the prospect’s responsibilities
  • Their current process (if any) of achieving the desired outcome
  • Reason for them completing it this way
  • What they like and dislike about that process
  • The cost in time and money on achieving their outcome

These topics will help you get a high-level view of their current situation. Based on your criteria, you can judge whether they fit your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and see if you can solve their pain points or offer a solution enabling them to do things better.

Close the call and always agree on next steps

From your discovery call, you should have a good idea of what the prospect needs, if you can provide a solution for them, and if they are an ideal customer for you.

You would also have gotten a sense of their level of urgency to purchase from you. Iif not, you should create urgency by highlighting how it is costing them financially or through time spent.

It is always advisable to agree on the next steps at the end of the call. Never end a call without knowing what the next steps are. Of course, it’s fine to book another discovery call if there are further things that need to be discussed, but the goal is to keep the sales process moving forward.

If the prospect is interested in you, the best next step is to plan a demo call to thoroughly go through the solution and discuss pricing with them.

However, if you or the prospect see there is not a fit, that is also a successful discovery call. Not all discovery calls will lead to a sale, but establishing there is not a potential business opportunity will ensure both parties will not waste any further time. Always have a positive sign-off since future needs may arise for them or they may refer you to another company.

Evaluate your call

It is always good practice to have your discovery calls recorded. Oftentimes, during the call itself, it can be easy to make mistakes such as over-talking or speaking too fast. You may also miss out on key points that a prospect raises which could have been opportunities to dig deeper on.

Evaluating your calls will help you to be more aware of how the call actually went as opposed to how you thought it went. Spending time to study your calls will help with your development and continue in bettering yourself.

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