The Discovery Call Is Important (Especially the 1st Step)

Each discovery call you make is a challenge because you are trying to capture, and keep, that prospect’s attention. Too often, reps rush to solve a problem they perceive exists or offer a demo — all before taking a moment to really talk with the prospect. These calls fail because the seller has not structured the call for success. “Do you know that around six out of 10 buyers want to discuss pricing on the very first call?” Vibhanshu Dixit asks in a Fireflies blog post. “And,” he adds, “more than half want to understand how the product works on the first call.”

A discovery call is something that sales reps should plan and prepare for with adequate research. A logical and smart structure is incredibly important, as Dixit points out, “discovery calls set the foundation of the company’s entire relationship with the prospect before and after closing the deal.” Dixit helps sellers do this with his article by sharing a step-​by-​step guide to a successful discovery call.

The discovery call: What is it?

Before successfully making a discovery call, a seller must understand what the purpose of one is and how it’s defined. First, the definition:

A discovery call in sales is the first call between the sales rep and the potential buyer or prospect. It is a two-​way conversation aiming to identify if your product or service matches with what the prospect is looking for.”

Dixit explains that a “perfect” discovery call targets the question, “How can I solve the core problems of my customers?” Keep this question in mind when planning the course of the call to make sure you gather the information you need to qualify the prospect and later close the deal.

Why it’s important

A discovery call is extremely valuable to sellers for many reasons. In addition to determining whether or not to pursue the prospect, calls also:

  • Help sellers empathize. It can be tough to emphasize with each and every prospect. These calls can help put the seller in the prospect’s shoes to gain a clearer understanding of what they are experiencing. “Today’s prospects already have access to dozens of pieces of information about various products and services,” Dixit points out. “They are looking for someone who can understand their struggles and help in solving them.”
  • Uncover solutions. Discussions on these calls can present the opportunity to tie-​in your product or service as a solution to the challenge(s) the prospect is facing. 
  • Build the buyer’s foundation for their journey. These calls are often the point where the foundation of a relationship with the buyer begins. “A right sales call can set a positive experience for the buyer and make him move smoothly in the buyer’s journey,” he writes.
  • Establishes authenticity. Reps who follow an efficient call structure can quickly establish credibility and gain the trust of prospects. 
  • Help tailor the customer experience. Not only can you determine if the prospect is a fit, but also learn about their personality and preferences. This can be valuable if you do qualify the prospect.

It all starts with research

The following is the structure that Dixit recommends using when planning and making your discovery call. This thoughtful approach will make sure that you make the most out of each and every outreach.

The very first step is an essential prerequisite for each and every discovery call: research, research, research. No discovery call should ever be made without adequate research about the prospect, their business and their industry. Dixit spends a lot of time discussing this step because it’s such an important part of the entire sales process. 

One way to conduct research is to head over to the social network LinkedIn. This is an easy and accessible way to learn more about the prospect and their business. In addition to learning as much as you can about their role and projects, Dixit suggests finding other ways to connect. “…look out for their interests, awards they got and observe the similarities between your prospects and you,” he suggests. Also, take a look at the content they are engaging with to find common interests, insights into their current focus, and conversation topics.

Director of AdMall Sals Denise Gibson relies on this pre-​call research , especially LinkedIn. "I definitely try to use as many resources as I can to find out about a prospect before I ever talk with them," she explains. "LinkedIn can tell me if prospects have worked at an 'AdMall'-friendly company or not. It helps you ask more direct questions based on their needs if you know some background or history." 

If the prospect isn’t on LinkedIn, Dixit advises reps to simply Google the person. 

He also warns against devoting too much time to this step, which can be easy to do. “Before you delve into the research of the sea of information on the internet, ensure you spend only 10–15 minutes on it,” he writes. “The internet is flooded with information, and you don’t want to keep doing research all the time.”

Once you’ve done the research, it’s time to decide if you even should make the discovery call. Perhaps, you’ve found that the prospect might not be a good fit as you’d initially thought. This is just another way that this first step is valuable. “In sales, you have to keep reminding yourself that disqualifying prospects is as important as qualifying prospects,” Dixit explains. So, it’s better to keep disqualified leads at bay, save time, and direct your efforts in converting the qualified ones. It will strengthen your pipeline and stop you from wasting time on the wrong people.”

As Dixit has shown, sellers should not make a discovery call without this very important first step. You can learn about the remaining steps in his post and get a clear picture of why structure is so important to these calls. 

Jessica Helinski

Jessica Helinski

Jessica is a senior research analyst for SalesFuel focusing on selling to SMB decision makers. She also reports on sales and presentation tips for SalesFuel and Media Sales Today. Jessica is a graduate of Ohio University.