First impressions matter, especially in sales. That's why the initial discovery call is so crucial. This first detailed conversation represents your big chance to connect with a prospect and kickstart a relationship that leads to a lifelong customer.

But for many sales reps, discovery calls also provoke nerves. The stakes feel high, with limited time to earn trust, understand needs, convey value, and progress the sale smoothly.

This quick guide will explain how to be good at discovery calls. You'll learn proven best practices for preparing for these calls, asking strategic questions, actively listening, and anything that helps you learn about your prospects. At the end, we’ll also share a free discovery call template that you can use to make your next call a success. Before that, though…

What Are Discovery Calls and Why Do They Matter?

Discovery calls are crucial in sales and typically precede demos and proposals with interested prospects. These conversations aim to build trust through authentic dialogue centered on prospects’ needs and goals. During these calls, you can uncover pain points to determine fit and qualify leads.

But why do discovery calls matter so much? Mainly because they allow personalized rapport building, not just robotic pitches. This rapport is critical to accelerating sales.

Discovery calls also enable upfront qualifying to avoid wasted time downstream. The end goal here is advancing warmer leads smoothly toward demos, proposals, and closure.

Smart sales teams also use discovery calls to qualify leads upfront before investing time and resources. This helps them filter prospects by assessing budget, authority, need, and timeline.

You can also gather intel to understand what prospects truly care about during these calls. This context helps you tailor solutions specifically to them.

Finally, based on the goals and pain points uncovered, you can frame your offering as the ideal solution for them.

Preparing for Discovery Calls

"Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." This sales mantra rings true for discovery calls. Follow these tips to increase your chances of success:

Research your prospects extensively.

Learn everything beforehand by researching them online, talking to marketing, etc. Key things to uncover here include:
  • Company info: industry, specialty, size, history, etc.
  • Leadership: org structure, values, and culture
  • Goals: growth plans, new markets, etc.
  • Pain points: challenges related to your offering/product
  • Budget: what they typically spend on solutions

Review relevant materials

Brush up on your company’s case studies, SLAs, and pricing to answer expected questions confidently.

Set a loose agenda.

Define 2-3 talking points to cover but keep it flexible based on their responses.

Choose a quiet location.

Pick a spot free from distractions to have an attentive, focused call. You can also consider using a headset for optimal audio quality.

Bring the energy

Project enthusiastic, positive energy on the call. Remember, your energy sets the tone and can make a huge difference.

An Example Discovery Call Dialogue

Let’s pull everything together by walking through an example call flow:

You: Thanks for hopping on the call today, Sarah. To quickly recap our earlier conversation, my goal for our discussion is to understand your organization's primary focus and explore if my company can help. Does that sound alright?

Prospect: Yes, perfect!
You: Tell me a bit about your role - what are your primary responsibilities and focuses day-to-day?

Prospect: As the head of marketing, I'm responsible for lead gen strategies and driving our brand growth. Campaign management and performance tracking are significant parts of my role, too.
You: I appreciate you providing that overview. Could you share any specific goals or metrics you aim to achieve in your position?

Prospect: I've been tasked with two big targets this year: driving leads up 25% and reducing cost per lead by 20%.
You: Got it; that context is really helpful. And in terms of priorities for the business overall right now, what key challenges or issues are you looking to tackle?

Prospect: Our main struggle has been converting leads to customers efficiently. Our sales processes could use an overhaul to accelerate conversions.
You: That makes sense. What have you tried so far to address these conversion issues?

Prospect: We've done minor tweaks but must remove the bandaid and overhaul our sales methodology. It's outdated.
You: I appreciate you sharing that background. Our sales enablement solutions could be a great fit based on your described conversion challenges. For example, we could...

Prospect: Interesting. How would that work more? What kind of timeline and investment would it require?
You: Absolutely, I'd be happy to walk through the details...

And the conversation continues.

Wrapping Up

The key here is blending structure with flexibility based on their responses. Avoid over-scripting the call and keep things conversational. Also, remember to prepare diligently, ask thoughtful questions, listen actively, qualify leads, and advance promising prospects. Easier said than done, of course, but incredibly worthwhile.

Now, you can make the most out of every first impression. So go and implement these tips, and crush your next call!