Discovery call checklist: why and how to build one

Plan de l'article

Your sales reps make one discovery call after another, but with varying success.

One possible reason is that your discovery questioning process is not enough defined.

As you know, questions are the lifeblood of sales. They can both enhance and break the emotional connection with your prospects.

A sales discovery checklist allows you to ensure that each conversation is going in the right direction.

Here's how to build and align it among your team.

What is a discovery call checklist, and why should you use it?

In your team, your sales reps may customize their prospecting approach. Depending on their personality and the person in front of them, they will ask different questions to get to the bottom of their prospect's needs.

While personalization is a good thing, it can sometimes hinder your sales performance.

Without predefined discovery questions, your salespeople might get used to asking low-performing questions. On top of that, your new talents might take time to find the best sales approach and ramp up their performance.

A discovery checklist helps solve this issue. It's a list of optimal discovery questions to qualify your prospects and move them toward a deal.

With it, you can:

  • Increase lead conversions by mandating the best-performing questions.
  • Better onboard your new sales recruits with a document they can refer to.
  • Align your sales approach to specific prospect categories.

Interested? Here's how to create your discovery checklist.

The step-by-step structure of your discovery checklist

In a discovery call, it's crucial that your reps ask the right question in the right order. It's about getting to the bottom of your prospects' pain quickly, before talking about solutions and getting into the more practical details.  

This gradual process is the best way to hook prospects and make them feel they are at the center of the conversation.

So you need to structure your discovery checklist in several key steps : 

Need (Why?)

The first step is to introduce the problem. You want to help your prospect present their current situation and gradually talk about their need:

  • What are your responsibilities and activity?
  • What are your team's goals?
  • Who is responsible for accomplishing them?
  • What are the obstacles that are hindering your success?
  • Why is this work process blocked today?

Just to clarify things: you need to focus these questions on the key problem you want to solve.

Impact (Which consequence?)

The second step is to focus on the scope of the problem. You want to insist on the impact this problem has on your prospects: its consequences on their company, activity, and personal situation. 

  • How does this problem affect your business?
  • How does it impact your team and your existing processes?
  • How does it make you personally feel ?

Solution (How?)

It's time to see the light at the end of the tunnel and talk about solutions. You want to consider your prospects’ existing reflections : their current solutions, their limitations, and their opinion on your solution.

  • How do you deal with this problem right now?
  • What tools or processes do you have in place to face it?
  • Which human and financial resources do you use?
  • Are you satisfied with these existing solutions?
  • What do you think of my product/service as an alternative?
  • What do you expect from a provider like me? And what will make you work with us?

Resource (when and how much?)

You now want to get down to the nitty-gritty and address practical issues. You want to know the time and budget constraints of your prospect to implement a new solution:

  • Who is the primary decision maker?
  • What is the budget available for this project?
  • When do you want to have it solved?
  • How much time do you have to implement a new solution?
  • What human resources do you need to train and coach?

Actions (what to do?)

Eventually, you can end the meeting by adding calls to action:

  • When are you available for a product presentation/demonstration?
  • Can I send you a quote, informational, or comparison documents?
  • Do you have any additional questions or concerns?

All of these questions are generic examples that you can use to structure your checklist.

Open or closed questions?

In your checklist, you can mention several types of questions to move the discussion forward. Here are the three main types, each with a different use:

  • Open-ended questions help you adopt an active listening approach towards your prospects. You can use them to let them express their concerns and come to their pain by themselves.  For example, any question that begins with a "where, when, who, what, how, why, what", etc., is an open-ended question.
  • Closed-ended questions allow you to go deeper into your prospect's thoughts and turn the discussion on your side. They also allow you to rephrase your prospect's answer to show that you have understood their problem. For example, to rephrase: "If I understand correctly...?" "What you are saying is that...?" To guide: "Is this situation frustrating you?" "Are you satisfied with x?"
  • Semi-open or alternative questions. They help you convince by contrast and elicit more information. For example: "Do you prefer x to y?" "Is there another solution available to you, and what is it? Or is this the only one? ".

How to set up and implement your discovery checklist?

It might be a good idea to create your discovery checklist in collaboration with your sales representatives. After all, they are the ones who will use it!

Here are some good practices to make it a collective effort:

#1 Comparing existing sales approaches

Your senior salespeople have been selling to your prospects for a long time. So they certainly have incorporated questions that worked for them over the years.

During a group meeting, you can ask them to share their techniques and debating the performance of each of them. You can rely on sales data and on your team agreement to decide.

Once you have made your selection, you can then add them to your list.

#2 Building a clear and precise document

To ensure your team can use it, you need to make your checklist document accessible to everyone. To do this, you might include :

  • The document’s purpose: why and how your reps can use it.
  • Usage guidelines: which questions are mandatory, which are recommended, which are suitable for specific cases.
  • Sections by discovery call step and prospect category
  • Different samples of best-performing questions per section

#3 Train your reps on it

Sharing a document is not enough. You also want to make sure your salespeople are fully trained in your sales process. 1-to-1 meetings are a good opportunity for this. 

For example, you can do shadow listening and analyze with them weak points in their approach. You can see when questions are asked at the wrong time, and which order of questions they might favor.

Noota: align your in-call sales performance

Do you struggle to align your sales reps' approach? At Noota, we’ve designed an AI meeting assistant that coaches your reps on predefined good sales practices. Thanks to it, you can:

  • Define a discovery call checklist.
  • Give your reps access to the checklist in real time and let them use it as they see fit.
  • Generate structured minutes by questions and send them to your CRM.
  • Analyze the impact of each question with a dashboard that tracks performance.

Want to get the most out of your sales discovery call? Try Noota for free.

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