How to Build a Successful Sales Discovery Process

min read
May 23, 2024

Research suggests that 50% of salespeople waste their time on unqualified leads. The gap? An ineffective sales discovery process.

This initial stage of the sales cycle isn’t just about making introductions; it’s about uncovering a prospect’s unique challenges, goals, and decision-making factors. Effective discovery call questions are crucial in understanding the buyer's motivations and challenges, helping to move the deal forward.

This article explores how to build a successful sales discovery process, that transforms wasted efforts into productive conversations, builds trust, and a solid sales pipeline with high-intent leads.

What is the Sales Discovery Process?

The sales discovery process is a structured approach used by the sales team to gather vital information about prospects. It’s an essential first step that sets the foundation for a successful sales cycle.

Here are some of the crucial steps of this sales process:

  • Preparation: This involves thorough research on the prospect and setting clear objectives for the discovery call.
  • Conducting the Discovery Call: Building rapport, asking insightful questions, and identifying the prospect’s pain points are all crucial steps.
  • Post-Discovery Actions: Analyzing the gathered information, crafting a tailored value proposition, and following up effectively are essential for moving forward.

Let’s break down these steps in detail.

Step 1: Preparation: Laying the Groundwork for a Successful Discovery Process

Before diving into the discovery call, thorough preparation is essential for the sales rep. Here’s what this stage entails:

1. Prospect Research: Knowledge is power! Leverage various resources like a CRM system, company website, industry reports, and even social media to gather information about the prospect’s business. Understanding their industry trends, recent news, and current challenges allows you to personalize your approach. Remember, according to CSO Insights, 42% of salespeople believe they lack sufficient information before making a call. This puts them at a significant disadvantage.

2. Setting Objectives & Agenda: Every discovery call should have a clear purpose. What key information do you want to uncover? Are you aiming to identify their biggest pain points? Understanding their decision-making process, or gauging their budget?

Pro Tip: Don’t just keep your objectives to yourself! Share a meeting agenda with the prospect beforehand, outlining the key topics you’ll discuss. This sets expectations, ensures a focused conversation, and demonstrates respect for their time.

Also read: How to create a discovery call agenda? (Tips+Template)

3. Keep Talk Tracks Handy: While scripting your entire call is a recipe for disaster, having some key talk tracks prepared can be a lifesaver. These are concise conversation starters or responses that can help you navigate the call smoothly. For example, you might have a talk track prepared to introduce yourself and your company, or one to address a common objection. The key is to use these talk tracks as a springboard, not a script. Adapt them to the specific situation and maintain a natural flow of conversation.

Step 2: Conducting the Discovery Call: Building Rapport and Uncovering Needs

Now that you’ve laid the groundwork, it’s time for the main event – the sales discovery call. Here’s how to make this call a success:

Conducting a good discovery call is crucial, where the prospect feels heard and sees value.

1. Building Rapport: First impressions matter. Create a comfortable and engaging atmosphere by:

  • Greeting them warmly and using their name.
  • Actively listening and showing genuine interest in their responses.
  • Demonstrating empathy by acknowledging their challenges.
  • Maintaining positive and professional body language.

2. Asking Insightful Questions: Remember, this isn’t your time to pitch. Focus on asking open-ended discovery questions that encourage elaboration and uncover their specific needs. Here are some effective techniques:

  • The Situation: Begin by understanding their current situation. Ask questions about their business goals, target market, and daily operations.
  • The Problem: Once you understand their situation, delve deeper into their challenges. Ask questions about their biggest pain points, frustrations, and the impact these have on their business.
  • The Implication: Help them articulate the consequences of their challenges. Ask questions about how these problems affect their bottom line, customer satisfaction, or overall efficiency.

Also read: 51 Questions to ask during a sales discovery call 

3. Identifying Pain Points: Not all challenges are created equal. Use your questions and active listening to pinpoint their most pressing needs. Identifying the prospect's pain points allows you to tailor your value proposition and demonstrate how your product or service directly addresses their core issues.

A great discovery call can help in identifying good prospects and making a positive impression.

4. Building Value Throughout the Call: Don’t wait for the end to showcase the value you offer. As you uncover their needs, subtly weave in how your product or service can address them. Provide relevant examples or success stories of similar companies that benefited from your solution. Think of yourself as a consultant, not a salesperson.

Step 3: Post-Discovery Actions: Turning Insights into Action

The discovery call may be over, but the sales journey continues! Leveraging the information gathered during a successful discovery call is crucial to crafting a compelling case and moving the relationship forward. Here’s how to maximize the insights you’ve gained:

1. Analyze and Interpret: Don’t let your notes sit idle. Analyze the information you gathered. Identify patterns and key themes that reveal the prospect’s specific needs and challenges. Consider not just their words, but also the underlying sentiment and emotions they expressed.

2. Develop a Value Proposition: Armed with your analysis, create a compelling value proposition tailored to the prospect’s specific situation. Don’t focus on generic features; translate them into benefits that directly address their pain points. Highlight how your product or service can help them achieve their desired outcomes and overcome their biggest challenges.

3. Send a Follow-Up Email: Don’t leave them hanging! Send a timely follow-up email summarizing the key points discussed during the call and reiterating the value proposition you outlined. Include a clear call to action. This could be a proposal, a product demo, or scheduling another call to address any remaining questions.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to clarify the next steps in your follow-up email. Be specific about what comes next and give the prospect a clear path forward. This demonstrates your professionalism and keeps the momentum going.

4. Qualification and Prioritization: Not all leads are created equal. While the discovery call aimed to uncover valuable insights, it also serves as a qualification tool. Based on your analysis, determine if the prospect is a good fit for your offering. Prioritize high-potential leads with a clear need and the budget for your solution. You can also use methodologies like BANT, MEDDIC, SPICED, etc, to qualify your leads.

Tools That Help With the Sales Discovery Process

The right tools can streamline the sales discovery process for the sales representative. They save you time and effort while helping you get insights into your prospects. (A win-win for sure!)

Here’s how some popular tools can help:

1. CRM Software

A robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software acts as the headquarters of your sales discovery efforts for sales reps. It serves as a centralized repository for all your prospect data, including:

  • Contact information
  • Communication history (calls, emails, notes)
  • Pain points and needs
  • Interactions with your marketing automation tools

Popular CRM options include:

  • Salesforce
  • HubSpot CRM
  • Zoho CRM

By using your CRM, you can:

  • Gain a 360-degree View: Unify all prospect data in one place for an overall view of each potential client.
  • Track Interactions: Easily monitor all communication touch points, allowing you to tailor your discovery calls based on previous interactions.
  • Optimize the Sales Pipeline: Identify the most promising leads and prioritize your follow-up efforts accordingly.

2. Social Selling Tools

Platforms such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator help the sales team gather valuable business intelligence on prospects and their companies. Here’s how:

  • Advanced Search Capabilities: Use filters and find the perfect decision-makers within your target accounts.
  • Company and Prospect Insights: Gain access to publicly available data, including company news, recent activity, and shared connections.
  • Lead Nurturing Features: Engage with potential clients through targeted social interactions, fostering brand awareness and building relationships.

Popular social selling tools include:

  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator
  • Uplead
  • SalesIntel

3. Email Automation Tools

Sales reps can use these tools to streamline communication and manage lead nurturing effortlessly. The functionalities that help achieve these things include:

  • Automated Email Sequences: Craft a series of personalized emails that nurture leads through the sales funnel, nudging them towards the discovery call.
  • Lead Scoring: Assign scores to leads based on their engagement with your emails, helping you prioritize your follow-up efforts.
  • Personalized Email Templates: Save time by creating pre-written emails tailored to different stages of the sales journey.

Popular email automation tools include:

  • HubSpot
  • Mailchimp
  • Pardot

4. Sales Intelligence Tools

Sales intelligence tools pool in valuable data from various sources, providing the sales team with a more detailed picture of prospects. This data can include:

  • Web behaviour and website visits
  • Industry trends and news
  • Competitor activity

With this data, the sales team can:

  • Craft Personalized Discovery Calls: Tailor your questions and talking points to address their specific challenges.
  • Predict Buying Behavior: Data-driven insights can help you do the guesswork on their needs and concerns, allowing you to present solutions with greater confidence.
  • Identify New Opportunities: Discover hidden connections and potential decision-makers within target accounts.

Popular sales intelligence tools include:

  • ZoomInfo
  • LeadGenius
  • SalesForce Einstein

5. Interactive Demo Platforms

Demo platforms enable smart discovery without probing prospects with too many questions. Here's how:

  • Uncover Hidden Needs: Before the discovery call, share an interactive demo with your prospect. You can then analyze how the prospect interacts with the demo and gain insights into their interest in specific functionalities. 
  • Focus on Deeper Discussions: By using an interactive demo to showcase the core features and benefits upfront, your discovery call can shift towards more detailed discussions around the prospect's specific challenges and how your solution can provide a tailored solution.
  • Boost Engagement and Retention: Interactive demos are engaging by nature, leaving a lasting impression on your prospect. This improves the sales discovery experience and increases the likelihood of converting leads into customers.

Popular Interactive demo platforms include:

  • Storylane
  • Walnut
  • Reprise

How Storylane Helps You Have a Productive Sales Discovery? 

Interactive demos are inherently self-qualifying, on top of that, when you share Storylane demos with your prospects before a discovery call, you give them time to explore your product at their own pace. Meanwhile, our analytics engine gives you all the behind-the-scenes insights. Now you know which feature intrigue prospects the most and what you should focus on during the call. This approach allows you to ask better questions and have more productive conversations, instead of having basic feature discussions. 

Want to see Storylane in action? Start a free trial today!


1. How to Run Sales Discovery?

The sales discovery process involves a series of steps to uncover a prospect's needs and challenges. You'll conduct research, qualify leads, ask targeted questions, and identify their pain points. By understanding their situation, you can tailor your approach and present solutions that resonate with their specific needs.

2. What is the Prospect Discovery Process?

This is synonymous with the sales discovery process. It's the initial phase where you methodically gather information about potential customers to determine if they're a good fit for your product or service.

3. What is an Example of Discovery Process?

Imagine you sell marketing software. During discovery, you might research a prospect's industry, then connect and ask questions about their current marketing challenges. You might discover they struggle with email marketing automation. This allows you to showcase your software's email marketing features during your presentation. This, in essence, is the discovery process.

4. What are Discovery Activities?

These are actions you take to gather information about potential customers. This could involve prospect research, conducting calls, asking questions, or using online tools to gather data.

5. How Many Types of Discovery are There?

There isn't a universally agreed-upon number of discovery types. However, the core process typically involves phases like research, qualification, questioning, and needs identification.

6. What are the Two Parts of the Discovery Process?

The Sales Discovery process can be broken down into two parts:
1) Prospect Qualification: Is this a good potential customer based on factors like budget and decision-making authority?
2) Needs Discovery: What are their specific challenges, and how can your product or service address them?

Based on these, the discovery process can proceed to the next steps.

"Previously, there was scope for error and we’ve gone from a process that could be time consuming and painful to a process that’s super quick."
Supercharge your funnel with Interactive Demos
Book a demo
Revolutionize your sales game with interactive Product demos
Take a tour

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Stay ahead of the sandbox curve with a superior demo environment
Try Storylane
Capture more leads and close more deals with interactive demos Take a tour
"Previously, there was scope for error and we’ve gone from a process that could be time consuming and painful to a process that’s super quick."

"Previously, there was scope for error and we’ve gone from a process that could be time consuming and painful to a process that’s super quick."


Stay ahead of the sandbox curve with a superior demo environment
Try Storylane
Stay ahead of the sandbox curve with a superior demo environment
Get the Storylane Advantage
Learn more about how Thrillark Procured over a 60% Increase in
Button Text
Learn more about how Thrillark Procured over a 60% Increase in
Button Text
Capture more leads and close more deals with interactive demos.
Take a tour