Questions to ask on a discovery call

Questions to Ask on a Sales Discovery Call to Successfully Qualify Leads

After you’ve been working hard on your lead generation campaigns, it’s time to turn your attention to connecting with your prospects and potential customers. The time when you first reach out to these people can be a make or break moment in your sales process, often setting the tone for everything to come. Asking the right questions on these sales discovery calls can make all the difference in the world. We take a look at what you should be asking to successfully qualify your leads. 

What is a discovery call?

Let’s start with the basics by looking at what exactly a discovery call is. Essentially, it’s the first proper connection you make with a lead to determine whether or not you’re a good fit for one another. It usually establishes things like potential pain points for customers, their priorities and goals, and to what level they’re interested in your product or service. 

As you can see, these are some fairly high-stakes pieces of information to know, and not every lead will be willing to give them up naturally. You may have to tactfully figure out some of these details by asking the right questions.

One last thing worth mentioning is that a discovery call is different from a connect call. The latter is used to establish whether or not someone could be considered a lead, you may only have their email address and phone number, without having contacted them. The former is a pre-arranged call to work on qualifying that lead. 

What does an effective discovery call look like

Before we get into the details of what discovery session questions to ask during a call, let’s first look at what an effective strategy looks like. You don’t want to go into your calls without having a plan in place, as otherwise, you’ll end up faltering. 

Here are some points to keep in mind for an effective discovery call: 


We really can’t stress how important it is to prepare for your calls. As well as having an overall strategy, you’ll want to have details about each lead ahead of the meeting. Here are some things to consider when you’re thinking about how to prepare for a discovery call: 

  • How engaged are their customers and how can you help? 
  • What is their web presence like? Are their opportunities and weaknesses? 
  • Do they use social media effectively? If not, why not? 
  • How do they demonstrate their industry knowledge? 

All of these areas can help your sales reps determine what some of the customer pain points might be. This, in turn, helps them to get a better understanding of the lead and their wants and needs. 

Try Role-play

Networking experts LinkedIn suggest that roleplay can be an excellent way of having your sales reps to practice elements of a discovery call. Although it’s impossible to predict exactly how it will go, having some key questions and answers can help to encourage your reps. 

Record Your Discovery Calls

It can be a useful exercise to record your calls as they take place. This gives you the opportunity for you or a sales rep to review the call afterward. Whether it’s to give feedback, highlight the good/bad, or use for future examples, it can be worthwhile. 

Prepare a good opener

Try and work on an ACE call opening. You should kick off with a framework for this that lasts around 45 seconds. You should give your appreciation for them taking the time to talk with you, check that the length is okay, and outline your end goal. 

Set an agenda for the call

Arranging a discovery call meeting

You should send out an agenda when you confirm the meeting time and date (such as in your calendar invite). However, you should also run through it before you delve into things, just to make sure you both have clarity. 

Ask a lot of questions

Questions get the other party engaged with the call. Start by asking something like, ‘what are you hoping to get out of today’s call?’ This gives them the chance to think about the question and means you can take note of what their aims are. 

Try yourself out at storytelling

Giving examples of case studies or stories that are relevant to the situation can help keep things memorable. Try and have some outlined and practiced before your call to increase the impact. 

Summarize and close

By the end of the call, you should understand some of the pain points and goals that your potential client has. From here, you need to outline how your service can provide an effective solution. Wrap-up by making sure you addressed all of their concerns and questions. 

Questions to ask during a sales discovery call

So, you’re probably eager to get some inspiration on your discovery session questions. But where to start? There are all kinds of issues and situations that might arise, so how do you know what to ask and when? Luckily, we’ve pulled together a list of questions that can help you figure out the key information you need: 

To assess pain points and problems

Questions to assess pain points

These questions are useful as they can give you a great deal of insight into how your product/service can benefit the prospect. Examples include: 

  • What is the biggest challenge your team/company is currently facing?
  • What takes up the most time in your day?
  • What are the primary roadblocks to achieving your goals? 

To build rapport

Questions to build rapport

Early on in the call, you want to establish a connection with your lead. This will lead to mutual respect and demonstrate that you can be trusted. Why not try: 

  • Where did you work before you started at [their current company]?
  • I read your/company’s article on ___. What do you think about ____?
  • How has [recent event] impacted you? 

To find out more about their business

Questions to find out more about their business

As well as helping build rapport, this also gives you some insight into the inner workings of the business. Some useful questions include: 

  • Tell me about your role. What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
  • What are your goals (financial, customer-related, operational)? 
  • What metrics are you judged against? 
  • Who else will be involved in choosing a vendor?

To get to know their goals and needs

Questions to find out their goals

We covered this in the previous section, but it’s worth delving into more detail about this point. Once you’ve got an idea of their main goals, you could ask: 

  • What’s preventing you meeting your goals right now? 
  • When do you need to achieve your goals by? 
  • How would meeting your goals impact the business? 

To assess competition

Questions to assess competition

It’s likely that you’re not the only option when it comes to providing a solution. As such, you should try and find out where they are in terms of addressing their challenges and whether they already use competitor products. Try asking: 

  • How are you addressing the challenges you mentioned today?
  • What do you like and dislike about your current solution? 
  • What features are on your wishlist when it comes to finding a solution? 

To figure out their decision-making process

Questions to figure out their decision making process

It’s unlikely that the person you’re talking to will have the ultimate say in whether or not to choose your solution. You or your sales rep needs to determine what the process is for that to happen, with questions like: 

  • Who else will need to review and sign off on a proposed solution?
  • Have you used a similar product/service before? 
  • Which other decision-makers do we need to reach out to?

To see if their budget matches your price

Questions to find out their budget

Of course, at the end of the day, the overall cost plays a significant role in purchasing decisions. It’s a good idea to tease out these details in as delicate a way as possible, so try things like: 

  • How do you determine ROI?
  • How do you know if an investment is worth your cost?
  • Who sets the budget? Do you already have one set in place? 

To move the process along

Questions to move the process along

If you’ve had a positive response so far, you’ll want to move things onto the next step. Rather than flat-out saying as much, you can pose it as a question instead. Such as: 

  • What things will make it easier for you to make a decision?
  • Many of our customers do [x action]. Would this be something you’d consider? 
  • When shall we talk again to discuss a demo/meet with other shareholders?

Questions to avoid asking during a sales discovery call

So, there we have some useful discovery session questions that can get you the key information you’re after. But what about those questions that you shouldn’t ask? These can be off-putting to potential customers or derail the productivity of your call. We’ve highlighted some of those types below: 

  • Yes/no questions. You don’t want the lead to ask questions that give you one-word answers. So, rather than posing it as such, try and get them to give you more detail. 
  • A string of questions. Don’t bombard your prospect with endless questions. Ask one at a time and discuss it to its natural conclusion. 
  • Vague questions. Make sure to be specific with your request. You don’t want the call to go on a tangent or give you a vague answer. 

Final thoughts 

Clearly, your sales discovery call is an important part of your overall sales strategy. It can make or break a sale, so it’s worth spending the time planning for it. With the right questions prepared, your discovery sessions can bear fruit. They can help to build a strong relationship and increase your chances of success. Good luck!