Discovery Call Objection Handling Other

5 Discovery Call Questions That Could Be Deal Killers

Asking bad discovery call questions is a little bit like stepping on a landmine. Everything goes silent, and you know you’ve done something horribly wrong. Then you hear the faint “click”.

That’s when you know it’s all about to blow up in your face.

A little too dramatic? Not to those sales folks who have had the misfortune of asking the wrong question during a discovery call and then had to salvage the situation. 

Even if it doesn’t completely tank the conversation, bad discovery calls can lead to costly errors ranging from incorrect projections that affect pipeline to losing a deal before it even becomes one.

Discovery calls are a give and take

Conventional wisdom suggests that during discovery calls, the salesperson should mostly be listening. And while the data does back that up, it’s not by much.

For example, a report by Gong suggests that the best performers talk 46% of the time during these calls, while another from Mindtickle says the number may be even higher at 57%!

So there’s plenty of opportunities to put your foot firmly in your mouth with the wrong question. 

Times have changed for discovery calls

What doesn’t help is that the definition of “wrong question” has changed dramatically over the last decade or so.

Account intelligence platforms like Zoominfo, peer-Review websites like G2, and even professional networks like LinkedIn have made it easy for you to get relevant information about your prospect company. 

With that said, let’s take a look at some questions you definitely shouldn’t be asking in discovery calls.

Don’t ask what you should know already

Remember when meetings used to start with “Tell me about your company”? The only thing this says now is that you didn’t do even the basic research. You should know the prospect’s company information, of course, but also their chief competitors, market trends and typical market challenges. This has two benefits. 

  1. The prospect appreciates the fact that you care about their business, which goes a long way towards making them feel like doing business with you (And yes, a emotions matter, even in B2B sales) 
  2. The prospect does not have to make the effort of having to explain their business and market to you – something they are sure to appreciate during a long day at work

Do this instead:

Go deeper. I will actually let the incredible (and incredibly smart) Mor Assouline take this one.

The three worst questions during discovery calls before demos include generic inquiries easily found online, assumptions about decision-making power, and a focus on features rather than problem-solving. Instead, six improved questions are suggested:

Start with a query about the challenges the prospect faces, anchoring the conversation around their pain points.

Tailor a question acknowledging common issues faced by similar businesses, building trust by showing understanding of their world.

Don’t ask binary questions (They are self-defeating)

You only have a limited number of questions to ask before the prospect’s attention will start to wander. Different studies point to different numbers, but what is true is that at some point you WILL lose your prospect, you need to make the most of the time you have. 

So questions like “Are you happy with your current solution” or “Does your team have problems working remotely?” are dangerous. Not because the prospect will hate it, but because it doesn’t really give you anything to go on. Meanwhile, that little counter in your prospect’s brain doesn’t stop clicking! 

Do this instead:

The solution is obvious, right? You should ask open-ended questions. However, it’s not always that simple. Sometimes, open-ended questions can stump your prospect, which brings me to my next point…

Don’t ask leading questions (WITHOUT guiding the prospect)

So if “Does your team have problems working remotely?” is a bad question, “How does your team perform in a remote setting?” must be a good question, right?

Well, this is where we have to fall back on that infuriating word – “Depends”. See, not every person is articulate enough to express all their thoughts clearly. And it’s not the prospect’s job to give you all the right answers. So the onus is on you to get the best possible response out of them. Imagine yourself as a host at a restaurant showing diners to their seats. Some will just follow you, while some may need a light touch to draw their attention and guide them. Grabbing and shoving is probably a bad idea in all situations. 

Do this instead:

Say something like, “Some of our remote-first customers tend to face a lot of problems due to miscommunication between team members. Is this something you have noticed in your team as well? Tell me about that.” or “Folks in your industry / in your position often have problems with miscommunication between team members, especially when they manage remote teams. Is this a concern with you as well?”. 

This tells your prospect that either you already have customers in their arena, or you have done research well enough to know their common industry problems, both of which create confidence. It also gives them a starting point to discuss their problem. Even if you are off the mark, they can take cue from what you said and take the discussion further.

Don’t ask pre-prepared questions (if you don’t have to)

An analysis by Gong revealed that using slides on discovery calls decreases success rates. And if you think about it, that makes perfect sense. A discovery call is for “discovery”. Slides are for presenting. And when you are presenting, you are not listening. Sure, you may have a stack of questions with you, as cue cards or slides, but they are not reactive questions. 

So while you may need a few to get the conversation started, when the prospect is pouring their heart out and talking in detail about their pain, make sure your questions take cues from what they are saying. Even the best, most curated list of discovery call questions assembled by a panel of experts are not as effective as a salesperson listening intently and asking thoughtful questions based on what the prospect has just said. 

Do this instead:

Make sure your question would make sense if it starts with “So you said…”

Don’t ask THAT question

You know the one.

It comes in many forms, it has many variations but the prospect is smart enough to see through them all. So whether you couch it as “So, should we set up the demo?” or worse, “Do you want me to take you through the solution right now?” – they all mean the same thing. You’re trying to rush things along, or that you are trying to sell features. 

Of course, as a salesperson, that’s a question that weighs on you, especially near the end of the quarter. But all it tells your prospect is that you don’t care about their problem, or helping them, or taking the time to understand them. You just care about getting their signature on the dotted line.

Oh, and there’s another reason why this is a bad idea. Even if you succeed, rushing through the discovery process will inevitably come back to bite you later. Unexpected issues that may have been caught during a more detailed discovery phase might crop up and become expensive detours.

Do this instead:

Make sure you are centering on the prospects problem. This means coming at it as an expert, and discussing potential solutions. This helps build intrigue in the mind of the prospect, and once they want to learn more, you can suggest a demo.

Discovery calls have not one, but three purposes

Discovery calls are a balance of mining for information, fostering trust and selling. Yes, selling. Because even when you are not overtly pitching your product (and believe me, you should not be pitching your product), you are making the prospect aware of how it affects their problem. And if you do it right, it creates desire. 

But walking that tightrope is delicate, especially when every prospect is so different. While one person may be motivated by customer stories, someone else might just want facts and data, and another may not even want to talk business unless you have talked about last night’s game for about ten minutes! This is where Humantic AI comes in. Humantic AI allows you to personalize every single sales interaction, especially those all-important discovery calls when you are truly building rapport with the prospect. It helps you enter the conversation prepared to shape your communication so that your prospect is at their most receptive. 

Sign up for a free 7-day demo of Humantic AI to see how it transforms your sales process.

Humantic AI reinvents human interaction by enabling its users to reliably understand other people's personality and behavior without requiring them to take any test. Using Humantic AI's cutting-edge personality AI, salespeople can consistently close more deals.