3 Unique Sales Discovery Questions From Top Sellers

BY Jessica Helinski
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Do your sales discovery questions need to be refreshed? It might be time to consider at least adding one or two new ones to your process, especially if you’re like the 20% of sellers who say discovery questions are a top challenge. 

What sales discovery questions do top sellers ask?

LinkedIn's Paul Petrone explains how top sellers can be an excellent resource for question inspiration. “In [LinkedIn’s] How I Sell series, we asked some of the most innovative sellers in the world today what their favorite discovery questions are,” he writes. 

He notes that while these sellers understand that knowledge about the prospect and their business is the goal, they need questions that go deeper. They need to uncover enough information to get a thorough and well-​rounded understanding of the buyer. “The absolute best sellers go deeper,” he adds. “They don’t just understand the business logic of the person they’re speaking with, but the personal motivation behind that logic.”

How important is this problem to solve? How important is this problem to solve right now?

This first set of sales discovery questions come from Lavendar’s head of Community Growth, Jen Allen. She explains that early in her career, she would ask questions but never understood the answers within the full context of a prospect’s goals. She didn’t go deeper to uncover how their responses aligned with other priorities. By adding these two questions to her discovery, she learned so much more. As she points out, “I was able to qualify and disqualify more effectively. Because sometimes, it feels like people are really interested, but they're having even more interesting conversations around something else.”

Can you walk me through the last time you made an investment in your business?

This sales discovery question gives you an idea of how the prospect works through decision-​making and the buying process. This is crucial to gaining an understanding of what they need and how much time they may require. For Kimberly Dieter, Vice President of Sales at LinkedIn, this question helps her ensure she customizes her approach to what buyers need. “What I'm trying to discover is their decision-​making style and the process they go through when evaluating vendors, investments, or products so that I can mirror their preferred process,” she says. 

By asking about their last purchase process, you find out how to best meet their expectations. This question also aligns with the adaptive style of selling. For more information on how to further adapt to each prospect’s unique needs, check out SalesFuel’s article here

Why are we talking today?

This powerful sales discovery question helps sellers get right to the point. The prospect has chosen to give you the time; but why? “When I walk into a conversation, I am certain there’s a reason the buyer made time for it,” explains Wade Burgess, owner of Revolutionize Ventures. “I want to know why – I don’t want to pitch my product yet; I want to understand why they took the time to speak with me. The catalyst to yes lies within this insight.”

His question is a no-​frills approach to hearing the prospect’s objectives first and foremost. This can establish early on whether or not your solution is what they need, and it also gives insight into what the prospect sees in you and your offering. As Burgess points out, this can set the framework for future calls and meetings because you understand their goals and how they believe you can fit into achieving them.

Coming up with sales discovery questions can be difficult, but with inspiration from top sellers, you can tap into some of their best practices to dig a bit deeper. Refresh the questions you ask to gain insights from that will help you really understand what the buyer wants and what they expect from a seller. And, as Burgess points out, don’t forget the other important aspect of asking discovery questions: listening well. As he points out, “The better you listen, and the more you build your solution around what you hear, the more successful you’ll be.”

For tips on listening best practices, check out SalesFuel’s collection of tips here.

Photo by Jep Gambardella