If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my years on the front lines of sales at Close, it’s that discovery questions are the superpower that separates the average sales reps from the superstars. And I want to turn you into a sales superhero.
When you’re staring down a new prospect, the questions you ask matter more than your smoothest sales pitch. But let’s be honest, not all questions are created equal. The right ones can tell you if a prospect is a good fit, if they’re ready to buy, or if they’re just kicking tires.
So, buckle up. Today, we’re diving headfirst into the ten sales discovery questions you’ll need to evaluate potential customers. These are the questions that get you to the core of the customer’s needs, wants, and opportunities.
By the end of this post, you’ll be equipped with powerful questions that will not only make you a better listener but also a closer who never misses the bullseye. Let’s get started!
Understanding Sales Discovery
Sales Discovery. Sounds like some kind of corporate Indiana Jones adventure, right? Well, it’s not about uncovering ancient relics, but it’s just as important.
Sales Discovery is your expedition into the heart of your prospect’s problems, their desires, their motivations. It’s your golden opportunity to understand your prospect’s world, so you can show them how your product fits perfectly into it.
But remember, it’s not about playing 20 questions or grilling your prospects like a detective. It’s about engaging in meaningful conversations where you ask smart, thoughtful questions that uncover the real needs of the prospect.
Think about it this way, a successful sales discovery process is like a two-way bridge—it connects you with the prospect, and it allows you to guide them to the realization that your solution is what they’ve been looking for.
The Goals of Sales Discovery Questions
What’s the purpose of asking questions? It’s not just so you can make it through your sales script or fill out a required qualifying questionnaire. Here are x specific goals of discovery questions:
- Understanding customer pain points: A good doctor can only help you if he understands what hurts. That’s the job of discovery questions for salespeople—learn what’s causing pain in your prospects’ business.
- Building trust: The right questions position you as an expert. Ask specific questions that are relevant to your prospect’s situation and industry, and they’ll see you as someone who knows what they’re talking about (and that can guide them to a solution).
- Identifying opportunities: Your job as a salesperson is to help prospects make a purchase decision that will benefit them. Asking the right questions is like uncovering a treasure map—it’ll help you see which solutions best fit their needs.
Make sure to always capture this valuable sales intel in your CRM so that anyone who gets involved in the deal understands your prospect’s needs.
10 Vital Sales Discovery Questions You Need to Nail Discovery + Close Higher-Quality Deals
Ready to ask the right questions? Get your explorer’s hat on—we’re about to make you the Indiana Jones of sales discovery with these key questions.
Question 1: How did you hear about us?
This simple opener will give you crucial information about your marketing channels’ effectiveness. Are your ads doing the job, or is it the word of mouth in the market that’s getting you leads? Once you know what’s working, you can optimize accordingly.
Question 2: What’s the #1 challenge you’re facing right now?
Now, this question is where we dig a little deeper. Identifying the prospect’s main challenge is vital—it’s the keystone to your whole discovery conversation. The insights you get will be your guide in aligning your product or service with these goals. This isn’t about what you’re selling—it’s about the solution your customer needs. Once you can highlight how you solve their problem, you’ll hold the key to their interest.
Question 3: What solutions have you tried in the past?
Understanding the prospect’s past attempts to solve their problem will help you avoid pitfalls and hone in on new solutions. It will give you insights into the actions they’ve taken and help you create a tailored plan that either improves upon these attempts or takes an entirely new direction.
Question 4: When was the last time you made a purchase like this? Walk me through that process.
This question uncovers the buying habits of your prospect, which is fundamental to your approach. Understanding their purchasing process—be it impulsive or methodical, independent, or involving a board decision—enables you to tailor your sales approach accordingly.
This question also helps you anticipate roadblocks or delays that may come up later in the sales process. Are you going to have to run this through legal or IT departments? Will a certain stakeholder be harder to please? What kind of proof of concept will other decision-makers need in order to sign off?
Question 5: Who else is going to be involved in this purchase decision?
Knowing your audience is vital, and when you’re making a sale, the ‘audience’ includes all the decision-makers involved. Once you know who they are, you can address specific needs, meet individual preferences, and counter any objections that may arise. Each stakeholder will have a different perspective—identifying them helps you create a holistic solution.
Question 6: When would you ideally like to see results?
Deadlines and timelines—love them or hate them, they dictate business decisions. Knowing the prospect’s timeline will help you manage expectations and plan your offer. It will keep you from promising results too soon or failing to realize a need for speed.
This question also helps you see if your prospect’s expectations are reasonable. For example, maybe you discover your prospect needs to see results within the next 30 days. But they’ve already told you this decision will need to go through several stakeholders before it can be approved. Knowing this, you can negotiate with them and see what can be done to shorten the sales cycle.
Question 7: What are your budget constraints?
Let’s talk money. It’s essential to understand your prospect’s financial capacity. Knowing their budget helps you create an offer that’s attractive yet feasible, lucrative yet realistic. You’re not a mind reader, but asking this question gets you as close as possible to understanding their financial boundaries.
Question 8: What will success look like for you?
Here’s your chance to discover your prospect’s success metrics. Understanding what ‘success’ means to them lets you align your product or service with their expectations. Once you grasp their vision of victory, you can show them how your solution will lead them there.
Question 9: What could potentially prevent this project from moving forward?
The path to closing a deal is rarely a smooth ride—there are almost always roadblocks along the way. By asking about potential obstacles upfront, you’re better prepared to tackle them when they appear—or even clear the path before they become a problem. Forewarned is forearmed, right?
Question 10: What do we need to do to make you a customer?
This is the close of your discovery session, and it’s a big one. It helps you gauge the prospect’s readiness to take the next step. It gives you an understanding of what they’re looking for before they’ll commit. It’s direct, it’s bold, and it shows your dedication to meeting their needs.
Discover the Highest-Quality Prospects With Better Questions
So, there you have it—your map to become the Indiana Jones of sales discovery. With these questions in your toolkit, you’ll be well-equipped to navigate your conversations, uncover golden insights, and close high-quality deals. Happy exploring!
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