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Good Sales Discovery Calls: Tips for a Successful First Interaction

RepVue Team
RepVue TeamMar 29, 2024

The discovery call is one of the most important steps in the sales process. It’s your chance to gather information about your prospect, understand their pain points and goals, and begin building a relationship. A good discovery call can set you up for success throughout the rest of the sales process. 

So, what makes a good discovery call? First and foremost, it’s about asking the right questions, and taking the right approach. You want to uncover as much information as possible about your prospect’s needs, challenges, and goals. This will help you tailor your approach and position your product or service as the solution they’ve been looking for. In this article, we’ll explore some of the best questions to ask on a discovery call, as well as some tips for making the most of this critical step in the sales process.

Discovery to Disqualify

One thing that’s very important to keep in mind is that not every prospect will be a fit for whatever you’re selling. Great salespeople work hard to disqualify prospects during the discovery prospect. 

You read that right. A great salesperson will try to figure out why their solution might not be right for the prospect —- and in that case they’ll let the prospect know. 

Why would you do that? One of the key factors that determines whether you’re successful in sales, and whether you hit quota, is where you decide to direct your efforts.

It’s critical to work hard early on to make sure that what you have to sell can actually solve your prospect’s problem. If it can’t, then you’ll be wasting your time and the prospect’s. Even if you’re successful in closing a sale, it will likely result in quick churn. But most importantly, if you choose not to pursue a deal with a customer who is not a fit, then you can invest that effort in another opportunity that is much more likely to be successful.

Essentials of a Discovery Call

You have to get off to a good start. There are two key components of a successful discovery call: setting the agenda and building rapport.

Setting the Agenda

The first step in a discovery call is to set a clear agenda. This helps to ensure that both you and your prospect are on the same page and that you respect their time (and make good use of yours). Start by briefly reviewing your agenda so that it’s clear to your prospect what you plan to cover during the call. Be sure to include the main topics you want to discuss, such as their needs, challenges, and goals.

Building Rapport

Building rapport is a crucial part of any sales conversation, and the discovery call is no exception. It’s essential to establish a connection with your prospect and make them feel comfortable talking to you. One way to do this is to introduce yourself, your company, and your role in the company. Don’t be afraid to use humor to make a connection and break the ice.

Another way to build rapport is to actively listen to your prospect and show empathy. Repeat back what they say to show that you understand their needs and concerns. Use phrases like “I hear you” or “That makes sense” to show that you’re engaged in the conversation.

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Key Questions to Uncover Needs

During a sales discovery call, it is crucial to ask the right questions to uncover your prospect’s needs. This will help you understand their pain points, and if appropriate, provide a solution that meets their requirements. In this section, we will discuss the two types of questions that can help you uncover your prospect’s needs: open-ended questions and probing for pain points.

Open-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions are questions that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” These types of questions encourage your prospect to provide more information, which can help you understand their needs better. Some examples of open-ended questions that you can ask during a sales discovery call include:

  • “Can you tell me more about your current process?”
  • “How would you describe your current situation?”
  • “What are your goals for the next quarter/year?”
  • “How do you measure success in your business?”

By asking open-ended questions, you can get a better understanding of your prospect’s situation, goals, and challenges. This information can help you tailor your solution to meet their specific needs. 

You may be tempted to get very specific with your questions. But it can help to start with high-level, broad questions — especially on a first call. If your questions are too specific, you may lose out on a valuable insight that you would have gained had you let them decide what to focus on. 

Start at a high level and then dig into the areas that are most important to your prospect. People like to talk about what they want to talk about.

Related Article – What is SPIN Selling? 

Probing for Pain Points

Probing for pain points involves asking questions that help you understand the challenges your prospect is facing. By understanding their pain points, you can provide a solution that addresses their specific needs. Some examples of probing questions that you can ask during a sales discovery call include:

  • “What are the biggest challenges you are facing in your business?”
  • “What keeps you up at night?”
  • “How are you currently addressing this challenge?”
  • “What is keeping you from getting to your goals today?”

By probing for pain points, you can get a better understanding of your prospect’s pain points and provide a solution that addresses their specific needs.

Active Listening Techniques

During a sales discovery call, active listening is critical to building rapport with your potential client and understanding their needs. Here are two effective active listening techniques that can help you conduct a successful sales discovery call.

Reflective Listening

Reflective listening is a technique that involves restating or paraphrasing what the speaker has said to show that you have understood their message. This technique can help you build trust with your potential customer and ensure that you have a clear understanding of their needs.

To use reflective listening, you should:

  • Listen carefully to what the speaker is saying.
  • Restate or paraphrase what the speaker has said.
  • Ask the speaker if you have understood their message correctly.

For example, if your prospect says, “I’m looking for a software that can help me manage my team’s tasks,” you could respond by saying, “OK, you need a software that can help you manage your team’s tasks. Got it.”


Summarization is a technique that involves summarizing what the speaker has said to show that you have understood their message. This technique can help you ensure that you have a clear understanding of your prospect’s needs and can help you focus the conversation on the most important points.

To use summarization, you should:

  • Listen carefully to what the speaker is saying.
  • Summarize what the speaker has said.
  • Ask the speaker if your summary is accurate.

For example, if your potential customer says, “Things are just so hectic. Gabe is working on this part of the project, and Alli is working on a totally different thing — but we can’t close out this task without both of those parts completed. And right now I have no visibility into their progress, so I’m having to constantly call them for updates. What I need is some efficient way to pull all of this together so that I can see where we stand and have some visibility into how much more we have to do.” 

You could respond by saying, “So, you need a solution that can help you manage your team’s tasks, track their progress, and generate reports. Is that correct?”

Using these active listening techniques can help you build rapport with your potential customer, understand their needs, and ensure that you are on the same page.

Next Steps

After a successful sales discovery call, it is important to set clear next steps for both you and the prospect. This will help ensure that the conversation continues to move forward and that you stay on track to close the deal. 

If you’ve determined that the product that you’re selling might be able to help the customer address their problems and reach their goals, here are two important steps to consider:

Summarizing the Call

Before ending the call, take a few minutes to summarize what was discussed. This will help ensure that both you and the prospect are on the same page and that you have a clear understanding of their needs and pain points. You can use a table or bullet points to organize the summary and make it easy to reference later on. Be sure to highlight any key takeaways or action items that were discussed. 

Setting a Follow-Up

After summarizing the call, it’s important to set a clear follow-up plan. This can include scheduling a time for a second call, sending over additional information or resources, or setting a date for a product demo or trial. Be sure to confirm the follow-up plan with the prospect before ending the call, and send a follow-up email summarizing the plan and any next steps. 

Be sure to ask them to confirm if everything that you summarized is correct. Also, include any key dates or figures. These will be critical to reference later, especially in a situation where the deal slows down. You can refer back to this information and ask, “Are you still hoping to hit this target or have your goals changed?”

By summarizing the call and setting clear next steps, you can help ensure that the sales process stays on track and that you continue to build a strong relationship with the prospect. 

Keep in mind that every call is different, and it’s important to be flexible and adapt to the needs of each individual prospect. With practice and experience, you’ll become more comfortable with the sales discovery process and be able to close more deals.

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