discovery call

How to Run a Great Discovery Call

Qualifying leads as worthwhile prospects is a key goal of a discovery call. Aside from giving the lead essential information about what your organization does, you must get an understanding of their needs and determine if there is a fit to pursue the conversation further.

As you contact your prospects, there are several ways to qualify or disqualify leads and make sure you’re spending your time with the right people. Here are some simple steps that will set you up on the right track of having a valuable discovery call – both for the lead and you! 

1. Set an agenda before starting

When making the call, you should know your objectives beforehand. Similarly, your prospect needs to know what to expect as the conversation begins. Ideally, you’ll have a few key points that will allow you to gather information as well as be valuable for the lead so they can walk away from the conversation with more knowledge. Try breaking your agenda into components such as 

  • Introductions – get to know what is involved in their role and why they might be interested in your offering
  • Goals – ask them what they were hoping to learn from your call (and make sure you cover that!) and share what you’d like to accomplish with them in the conversation
  • Needs identification – these are the questions that you need to cover to help determine if there is a mutual fit (more on that below!)
  • Share information about your offering, Q&A, next steps, etc.

These are some examples that you can tailor for each conversation. 

2. Learn by asking questions – The important ones

When you are asking for someone’s time, you must make the most of it. You don’t want to give a generic pitch and you also don’t want to assume that they are facing the same problems as everyone with their profile. Get to know why solving this problem is important to their business, how they’ve tried to solve the problem before, and this will set you up well for the rest of the conversation.

The wording of your questions is important. To avoid short answers and a narrow discussion, ask open-ended questions and follow up by asking for an example. For instance, instead of saying “Do you have any major problems with…?” say “Can you explain what some of the problems are…?” or “Can you share feedback from your team when they are trying to do…?”

3. Match questions to the buyer journey

Through your questions, you’ll understand where your prospect is in their buyer journey. Depending on how many other vendors they’ve talked to and how quickly they are looking to move, you can adapt in this conversation and plan for your follow up accordingly. 

For example, if a prospect has awareness of their challenge you can ask why now is the time to solve it and if they’ve started to formulate a plan for the evaluation of the decision. This can give you insight that will allow you to tailor your approach. If they already have an evaluation plan in place you can learn more about that and explain how you can support that process (demos, trials, customer references, etc). On the other hand, perhaps they don’t have a plan in place and you can stand out as a trusted advisor who can explain how others in their same position went about finding a solution – and how your offering fits the bill!

4. Create a balance between talking and listening

While it is important to speak, make sure you’re actively listening to your prospect. As they answer your questions, it is important to react in a way that shows you are paying attention and that you understand them. For instance, you can summarize what they said and share it back with them to ensure you understand correctly. Another great way to show you’re listening is by verbally acknowledging their emotions by saying things like, “It seems like you’re worried about the impact of XYZ” This will not just make them feel heard, but it will make them feel more comfortable to keep speaking.

5. Diagnose them as they speak

Be sure to listen for key challenges when they speak. As you get a better understanding of what the prospect is trying to accomplish, you’ll be prepared to explain why your offering can help them specifically, rather than giving a general overview. Also, try to identify not just the pain points they specifically mention, but any other issues you can find in their process. That way, you can give a comprehensive point of view of the best way to go about solving their problem. 

6. Present your product/service as a potential solution

Once you know their pain points and their needs, you’re ready to naturally introduce what you have to offer into the conversation. It’s helpful to ask your lead what they know about your offering so you can get an understanding of their perspective and you can clear up any existing misconceptions. By validating their challenges, describing how you’ve helped others to address it, and positioning your solution’s approach, you can gauge their interest and provide helpful context. 

7. Define your next steps

If you have an idea of what their needs are and they seemed interested in your services, there is only one last thing to do – you’ll need to establish the next step. If you think things have gone well, you can suggest putting the next call on the calendar right then and there. It may make sense to have other people on the call from your team or theirs, and you should establish a preliminary agenda so they know what to expect. 

If you are unsure what would be most helpful for them, you can ask what other questions they have or what the best next step is from their view. Then together you can decide how to proceed. Make sure that you mark in your notes anything that you committed to them, like sending them material to review or details around an event you thought would be valuable for them. Also, note down your goals for the next call so you can give them a positive and consistent experience. 

Wrapping up

Talking to your prospect should feel like a natural conversation as you learn about them, their daily work life, and what their needs are. The point is to get to know them and make a connection that will help you best assist them through their buying process. By being intentional about how you approach discovery calls you can create a great experience for your prospect and better qualify what opportunities to spend your time on.