Sales Skills
By Marc Richard

8 Steps to Nail Your Next Sales Discovery Call

8 steps to nail your next sales discovery call. Follow the steps and set yourself up for success when first speaking to your prospect.

8 Steps to Nail Your Next Sales Discovery Call

The discovery call is the most important part of the sales process.

It sets the trajectory for the deal.

If it goes wrong, well, you can say bye-bye to that deal.

You won't know your prospect's pain points, you'll rush to the demo and you won't be able to prescribe the right solution.

Chances are that you'll lose that deal later on.


If it goes well, your prospect will come out of that call thinking they owe you one.

You see, after a really good discovery call your prospect will think that they could have paid for it.

By asking the right questions, your buyer will realize what they need.

And that's when you know you've nailed it.

Now, let's go into the 8 steps of a great discovery call.

We love the Winning by Design graph on what an excellent discovery call should look like. Ours is inspired by their method.

Winning by Design

#1 Prepare

Fail to prepare and you'll prepare to fail.

To nail your discovery call, you've got to do your research.

It's the bulk of the work and when done properly, you'll immediately assert yourself as an authority.

If you don't prepare, you run the risk of asking questions you could have found answers online.

And you don't want that to happen.

It's a waste of time for your buyer.

It pisses them off.

So you know what you gotta do: check your prospect's LinkedIn profile.

But don't just stop there.

It's not enough to have a vague idea of their role and the company they work at.

You've got to go deeper.

Much deeper.

Analyze their company, find data and information relative to what you're selling.

You'll use that to lead the convo.

And magic will happen.

If you say:

"I saw that article mentioning that this year your goal is to go from X to Y, is that right? "

"Great, can you help me understand what you've planned to reach that goal?"

Your prospect will magically open up.


If you struggle to get valuable information out of your prospect.

That won't happen anymore.

It grants you more legitimacy to continue to ask the right questions.

It allows you to assess the company's challenges and anticipate your prospects' needs before they articulate them.

That's how you'll show them you care.

#2 Upfront Contract

Are you losing control over the convo?

Is it you or your prospect who's leading the meeting?

If you want your discovery to be a success, it has to start on the right foot.

So here's the kicker.

Frame what will happen during the meeting at the beginning of the call.

That's an upfront contract.

The goals?

1. To avoid ending your meeting with no next step.

You know that punch in the face you didn't see coming:" I'm sorry [rep] but I have to go, I have another meeting"

And you're then left sending emails after emails to try to schedule the next steps.

2. To avoid that situation where there is a disconnect between your and your prospect's expectations.

That usually happens when your prospect takes over the conversation with something like:

"Can you show me the product?"

Or when, you see that questions after your questions, your prospect has shorter and shorter answers. Ouch.

You end up the meeting with nothing valuable to move the deal forward.

You don't want that right?

We love the ACE agenda template by the Winning by Design Team.

We use it consistently but we have added an extra step to make sure we nail that call.

We call it the ACONE.

It's short, to the point, and will keep you in charge.

Check it out:

  • Appreciate you taking the time for today’s call.
  • Check End Time → “We have 30 minutes scheduled to speak today — does that still work for you? {Remember to listen to their response, and adjust your call if necessary)
  • "On your side what do you expect from this meeting to be a success?"
  • End Goal → “Ok, so we'll cover that, on my side the goal of the meeting is to learn more about your current situation on [topic] and how we may be able to help. So first we'll start with _____ then ______ and if we think it's a great fit then we'll schedule a next step, which is usually a demo. And if it's not a fit, that's fine we'll go part ways, fair enough?"
  • What would you like to add or remove from the agenda?

#3 Diagnosis

There is one thing that you need to understand.

You can't start an inbound and outbound discovery call the same way.

You should respect your prospect’s stage in the buying journey.

Let's take the example of an Inbound meeting:

Let say your buyer is ACTIVELY evaluating products like yours

Then don’t start with this question:

"Can you help me understand what are your top priorities this year?"

This question will help you uncover a pain point, which is appropriate if your prospect is in a latent or active pain stage.

But your buyer is beyond that stage. They’re evaluating products. So if you start with this question, good chance they'll get annoyed.

It doesn't mean that you can't ask this question during the call though.

But you can't start with it, you have to adapt the order of your questions based on your prospect's stage in the buying journey.

Here's a better question for a prospect evaluating different tools/services:

"What do you hope to accomplish by implementing a solution?"

See the difference?

This question is totally aligned with the buyer’s stage. Most importantly, this is what the buyer wants to talk about.

When you’ve asked that, now you can go back to the first question:

  • You: What do you hope to accomplish by implementing a solution?
  • Buyer: We’re looking to increase sales performance.
  • You: Good to know. Can you help me understand what’s causing you to prioritize that as an initiative?
  • Buyer: We almost haven't had any new revenue during the COVID crisis but we still have to make our numbers for the year. The issue is that we don't have the budget to generate more leads. So, we need to be able to convert them at a higher rate.

Now let's see how that goes for an outbound meeting:

Chances are that your prospect is in the Latent Pain stage, your job is to make them realize that they might have a problem.

You need to move them from a Latent to Active pain stage.

To do that you need to start with a short intro of the problems you solve.

It should not be longer than 2 minutes and the main goal is to open up the conversation on the right topics.

After your intro, try and understand their process with both qualitative and quantitative questions.

Don't be afraid to ask the hard questions.

If you struggle to create urgency, it's usually because you can't tell how much their problem is costing them.

Quantitative questions will expose your prospect's pain points.

Think about it.

Asking the right questions is a powerful way to make your prospect aware of their situation.

They'll quickly realize the urgency of their problems.

And they will need to buy.

Pro Tip: Record your calls, you're going to get a heap of information and your scribbled down notes won't help you much when you follow up with your prospects. Check out the benefits of call recordings here.

#4 Summarize

This is a short step but it is key.

The best way to make sure you've understood your prospect's pains?

Summarize them.

Your prospect will not only appreciate that you've listened but that you've understood.

Best way to score some points!

#5 Customer Story

Now that you've identified the pains.

You can tell your buyer about a relevant customer story.

Did you manage to help a customer solve a similar problem your prospect outlined?

It's time for a bit of storytelling then.

And buyers love to know what others are doing.

It's a crucial part of the process, and shows two things:

Like step 4, that you've understood your prospect's problem

And more importantly, that you've been successful at solving it before.

If you've done that right, chances are your prospect's interest has peaked.

They love to know how their peers are tackling similar problems.

#6 Prescribe

Let's get into the nitty-gritty of things.

Here you need to show how your product/solution will solve the different issues your buyer addressed.

You need to be specific.

First, paraphrase your prospect's problem.

Then, clearly show how you're going to solve this problem.

"Earlier you told me that you have a big performance gap within the team which is costing you Y, with Bonjour you'll know what your top rep is doing differently from the others based on data which means that you'll know who & what to coach so you can hit your target for the year."

#7 Schedule Next Step

You have to close the conversation and clearly schedule the next steps.

I'm sure you've crushed the call by that stage ;)

So go ahead and ask

"Mr Prospect, as I've mentioned at the beginning of the call, if we think it's a fit we'll schedule the next step, from your point our view, what should be a great next step?"

Chances are it will be the same next step you had in mind.

And make sure you schedule the call with the right people, is your prospect the key decision-maker?

If not, get the KDM on board for the next call.

#8 Follow-up

Always follow-up with an email.

If you've recorded the call and had time to go over it, pick out the key topics and pains your prospect outlined with the exact jargon they used and list them in your email.

Your prospect will be impressed with your level of understanding.

Don't forget to show very briefly how your product fits their needs.

Thank them for taking the call.

Boom, you've nailed it.

Turn sales calls into learnings and learnings into action.

Bonjour is videoconferencing designed for sales professionals with built-in sales intelligence to set up the foundations for your team's growth.

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