What Is Sales Discovery?

What Is Sales Discovery?

Nalin Pradeep
March 1, 2022
min read

In sales, it's important to get to know your prospect and understand their needs before you proceed to selling them. This process of learning more about your prospect is called Sales Discovery.

Your prospects have pain points, fears, and goals. Learning them helps you refine your sales pitch and increase your chance of successfully converting them to customers. Companies that follow a proper sales discovery process win 73% more often than companies that don't.

You might combine your sales discovery and demo calls into one during your first call with your lead. This is especially popular when selling to smaller companies where needs are less complicated and sales cycles are shorter. When selling to larger companies, you can set up a dedicated discovery call where the goal is simply to learn more about the customer. If it makes sense, you then schedule a follow-up meeting for a demo.

What Is the Purpose of Sales Discovery?

In a sales discovery conversation, you want to speak with your lead, not talk at them. You might be tempted to jump straight into a demo as soon as you get on a sales call. Your lead might be impatient and pressure you into a demo immediately too. However, if you pause and run through a couple of questions instead of launching into a monologue, you'll make your sale a lot easier.

The purpose of this conversation before the demo is to discover your prospect's pain points, how they buy new products and services, what they've tried so far, and what they're hoping to get from speaking with you.

Goal 1: Qualify the Lead for the Demo

The primary purpose of sales discovery to qualify the lead to see if they are truly a potential customer or not.

If a lead has a budget of $1,000/mo, but your lowest tier is $5,000/mo, your lead can't become a customer. Even the best sales pitch won't convert someone who can't afford your solution.

Or maybe you learn that the lead needs a solution for a use case that you don't support and will likely not support in the immediate future. There's no point in wasting time on a demo. You can save yourself and your lead time by ending the conversation early.

Goal 2: Discover Pain Points

During the sales discovery session, ask questions to reveal pain points. Ask them why they even agreed to a call, what they're trying to accomplish, the metric they're trying to move, and what they've tried so far.

This call is an opportunity for you to form a picture of their business and understand exactly what they need help with. It's important to learn more about your prospect first before pitching them a solution they may not even want. Once you discover their pain points, you can tailor your demo and explain how your product addresses each of their pain points.‎

Goal 3: Build a Relationship

Customers buy from people they trust. Let them share their problems, motivations and goals. Listen to them and empathize with them. If you can position yourself as a helpful friend instead of a transactional business partner, you improve your chances of your lead becoming an internal champion for your product.

Also, don't limit conversation to business. If a lead mentions the city they live in, ask them recommendations for the next time you visit. People love to talk about themselves.

The sales discovery process is an opportunity to build rapport and become a trusted advisor before you attempt to sell them.


Goal 4: Identify the Decision Maker

Sometimes, you’ll get lucky and speak with the decision-maker during your first call. However, some leads need to loop in their manager or a teammate to make a final purchase decision. Learn who else needs to be brought into the conversation to move your sale forward.


How to Conduct a Sales Discovery Call?

Now that we’ve understood the goals of sales discovery, you might be wondering how to execute on each one effectively. Creating a basic script and establishing structure will help you dazzle your leads.

Let’s discuss the five steps to conducting a sales discovery call.

Step 1: Look Up the Lead

Do your research before jumping on a sales call. You can learn about your lead by visiting their social media accounts (LinkedIn, Twitter, podcasts, blog posts) and company website. You can look for shared connections and review their posts to learn their opinions. As a salesperson, it’s important to come prepared with questions that help direct the conversation and give you further insights on the lead. This research minimizes filler questions and lets you dive straight into meaningul conversation that builds trust and drive sales.

Step 2: Choose the Right Communication Medium

How will you communicate with leads? Many salespeople hop on the phone and dial numbers. This makes it easier to review your script during the call.

If you can, opt for video conferencing or an in-person meeting. These meetings lead to more engagement, and you can see a lead’s facial expressions that tell you what your lead is truly thinking. A lead may say what you want to hear while slouching at their desk browsing Twitter, waiting for the call to end. It's hard to get the from a video call, and impossible from a phone call.

Make sure a lead can easily access your tool of choice like Zoom or Google Meet. If they have to jump through several verification hoops to join your call, some will give up.

Step 3: Set Expectations

Once the meeting starts, it’s important to establish expectations. Tell a lead the objectives for the meeting and the next steps if things go well. This clarity makes leads feel more comfortable and gives them the opportunity to make additions to the agenda. For example, you might do the following:

  1. Introductions
  2. Go over the purpose of the call
  3. Ask the prospect if they want to add anything to the agenda
  4. Tell the prospect how long this will take
  5. Leave time to discuss next steps and schedule a follow-up call

Step 4: Ask Questions Strategically

Better questions lead to better answers. Asking the right questions can make the difference between a failed and successful sale.

Approach your sales discovery call like a conversation with a friend. You wouldn’t bombard them with questions. Instead, you would ask questions, listen to their responses, and ask relevant follow-up questions. Active listening helps you come up with in-the-moment questions that reveal new insights about your lead.

Figure out why a lead is considering your product, what they want, and thoughts about their current setup. Open-ended questions create the sense of a conversation. They venture beyond “Yes or No” type questions.


Step 5: Sell Your Demo or Offer

Wrap your sales discovery call with a pitch for a demo. If you've succeeded in asking the right questions and building trust, your lead will be curious to learn more about how you can help. Do it even if they're not the decision-maker. They can always loop in the decision maker later if they're impressed.


Sales discovery calls let you learn about your leads and set you up for a successful demo, and subsequently closed sale. It helps you identify qualified leads who should even see a demo. You want to focus on these leads and give them your undivided attention.

If a sales discovery call doesn’t work out, figure out why. Review your notes and see how you can improve. What did you not learn from your call and what questions should you have asked? Watch a more experienced Account Executive conduct a discovery call.

You’ll get better at sales discovery calls as you do them more often. The first one is the hardest, but each one gets better. Good luck!

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