5 Underrated Discovery Call Questions to Understand Your Buyer

“What problems are you trying to solve?”

“What are your company goals?”

“What does success look like to you?”

These are the usual suspects in any discovery call. And of course, there’s a place for the usual. But they only scratch the surface. To really understand your buyer, you need to ask questions not everyone is asking. 

P.S. Discovery questions and qualifying questions are not the same thing. We’ll discuss the differences a little further down.

Prepping for a Discovery Call

First things first – a discovery call is NOT the time to pitch your product. It’s to help you understand your customers. Specifically, their pain points.

To start off, preparation is key. Follow this checklist of pre-meeting to-dos:

  1. Research your buyer: Before the call, research the buyer and their company. Understand their industry, challenges, and any relevant information that might help you tailor the conversation. Look up their Humantic profile if you want to up your game and make the conversation more free-flowing.
  2. Attitude matters: Think of the discovery call as a conversation to understand the buyer and their pains. Go into that meeting with this attitude.
  3. Upfront contract: Once you’re on the call, start off by introducing yourself and setting up the context for the call to make sure everyone is on the same page. Our friends at Sandler call this the ‘upfront contract’.

Now that we know how to prepare for a discovery call, let’s talk about five uncommon and underrated questions that will help you understand and impress your prospect. I have tapped the collective wisdom of some of my favorite sales experts for these, so let’s get to them!

1. Ask prospects to visualize the future during your discovery call

Josh Braun is a sales trainer with over 20 years of experience under his belt. Here’s how he makes his prospect see into the future. 

 “Let’s say your team is using our product for 2 months and they’re able to build more connections. What would that allow them to do that they’re not able to do today?”  

Not only does this question help you understand how the prospect defines “success”, it also makes them visualize a better future with your product. With this simple question, Josh has already tied the idea of “success” with his solution in the mind of the prospect. It’s kind of genius.

2. Ask a discovery call question with a (well-researched) assumption built in

Brian LaManna from Gong shared an example of this on the Authentic Sales Leader podcast. (Link)

“As a senior sales leader who has been at Acme Corp for 15 years, is customer interactions at trade shows the number one important thing in your world?”

Is it risky to start off strongly with an assumption? Not really. Let me explain.

As long as the problem is strong, SPECIFIC, and based on your research of the buyer and their company, it works like a charm. 

If the response is a ‘yes’, it lets you steer the conversation, having impressed the prospect with your insight.

If it’s a ‘no’, just let the buyer take the reins. But at least the buyer appreciates that you’ve done the research and brought a different POV to the table. 

Either way, you’ve made progress in pleasing the buyer.

Key thing to note: Hold on to the assumption very loosely to let the conversation flow.

3. Ask how you can help – no strings attached

“We’ve decided to set aside 1hr today. Why did you agree to the meeting and how are you hoping that I might be able to help?”

This one is from Sandler Training’s ‘best questions to ask as a salesperson’.

Just because your buyer has agreed to take the meeting doesn’t mean they are necessarily looking to buy your solution. Or even that they want to make a purchase at all. So never go into the meeting with that mindset.

Instead, try to see what prompted them to take that one hour of their time to speak to you. This question gets them to open up about their expectations and you can then continue your discovery from there

4. During the discovery call, try to understand what the prospect has done already

“What have you done up to this point to address this pain?”

This one comes courtesy another amazing mind in sales – Tom Slocum. He explains his thought process in this LinkedIn post.

One of the great things about this question is that it puts the buyer and the seller on the same page by giving the seller some much-needed perspective and a deep understanding of the problem.

By diving into the nuances of why the previous solutions didn’t work, the seller understands how their solution has to be modified to best fit the situation.

5. Figure out how serious the prospect is about solving the problem

“What happens if you don’t find a solution to your problem in 6 months?”

This question comes from John Barrows and tells you whether the prospect sees the problem as something that needs to be solved immediately, or one that can be put on the backburner.

If it’s the latter, the prospect has no urgency to drive the deal forward. Which probably means you should not add it to your pipeline. 

However, if the prospect expresses concern at the idea of not having a solution in six months, you can probe further and get great pointers that your AEs can use in future discussions.

Discovery vs. Qualification

As some of you might have figured out by now, when you’re asking qualifying questions, you’re trying to see if your solution is a fit for their problem. A discovery question is one where you’re trying to uncover your buyer’s issues. 

While qualifying questions are important to you as a salesperson, they should come up after you figure out the deeper problems your buyers face. That way, you’ll be able to act as a consultant and help them with a solution. Sometimes it’s yours, other times it’s not.

But you’ll end up building trust. And people remember that forever.


A good discovery call is one where we can ask meaningful questions to the buyer to help them. A great way to know if you have a good question is to make sure you have a REASON for your question. Assume every time you ask a question the client is going to say “Why do you need to know that?”

If you have a good reason for your question, sometimes you can preempt their answer with your reason. Ask your question and then before they answer say “The reason I ask is that…” and watch them relax a bit and be more open to giving you a thoughtful answer. 

Ask these 5 questions on your next discovery call and let us know how your buyers open up.

Salesperson turned product marketer. Fitness enthusiast.