The trickiest part of a sales process is identifying whether your solution fits the potential buyer’s needs. A discovery call is the best way to crack this detail and lay the groundwork for successful deal closure. 

Salespeople who ask the right sales discovery questions can save time by focusing on high-intent leads rather than wasting their time chasing prospects who aren’t ready to buy.

Questions focusing on buyers’ pain points, needs, and biggest roadblocks help shape a sales engagement strategy to match their expectations.

In this guide, we’ve curated 30 of the best sales discovery questions every sales account executive must ask their sales-qualified leads. 

Top sales discovery questions 

Below are the best open-ended discovery call questions split across various categories and intentions:

Initial engagement questions 

These questions set the stage by giving you complete insights into the potential buyer’s background and situation and if they’re ideal candidates for your solution.

1. Tell me more about your company 

This question gives prospects a chance to describe their company more deeply in their own words. However, it must be asked after stating what you already know about the prospect’s company.

2. How did you hear about us?

Asking how a prospect heard about your business lets you uncover the trigger that made them look for a solution in the first place. For example, if they were browsing through tailored solutions to fix their specific challenge.

3. Tell me about your role and what your daily activities look like  

This question helps you casually build rapport with the individual without diving into details. Most prospects would be happy to share what their usual day looks like. 

4. What metrics are you responsible for?

This can be a follow-up question to the previous one. By understanding their responsibilities and what metrics they’re in charge of, you can assess how your offering can improve the metrics in question and inform them.

Current situation questions  

The following set of open-ended sales discovery questions explores the current situation of your prospect’s business and how it relates to what you’re selling to them.

5. Tell me about your current solution process 

Understand the prospect’s likes and dislikes with their current solution.

6. What are your top priorities and goals for this quarter?

This question unlocks the urgency of their goals and if your solution can act as a critical asset to help them achieve their prioritized objectives within the necessary timeline.

7. What would you like to improve about your current process?

Use this question to understand their priorities better and where their current solution fails to meet their expectations.

8. What would happen if you didn’t do anything to change your process?

Asking this question can create an urgency in prospects’ minds to imagine the adverse effects of continuing with their current inefficient process. It stresses the need to take immediate action with a better solution. 

Needs and pain points questions 

Hearing firsthand about prospects’ actual needs and problems can help you position your product or service as their perfect solution. 

Below are a few open-ended questions that make prospects comfortable sharing their pains and expectations:

9. Help me understand the biggest challenges you’ve been facing with [X]

This is a very straightforward question to set the tone. Note the challenges they share to frame further questions and show how your solution fixes them.

10. How are you currently dealing with [challenge/s]?  

This question lets them go a little more in-depth about their current process and how it's inefficient or outdated. It can also help them understand their roadblocks.

11. What is “the” biggest challenge you’re facing, and give me an example?

You can ask this question so your focus is on the ultimate pain area and use their example to map your solution further down the line. 

12. How high does this [problem/challenge] rank among your priorities?

If the problem or challenge is their top priority and your solution can solve it, you’re most likely to accelerate the buying process.

13. Do you have any Plan B or other options in your pipeline to fix this?

Ask this question to gauge their urgency for an alternate solution and readiness to accept one.

14. What would you think is a potential “best” solution matching your needs and why?

Ask this to identify how a prospect imagines solving their problems (even if their route is not part of your solution). This will also expose where their priorities and perspectives lie and how to tailor your solution to be the perfect fit.

15. What kind of results would you expect by solving the problem with a new solution?

Guide the prospect to discuss the key metrics they envision as their “ultimate results.” This can give you insight into how realistic their expectations are.

16. By when would you wish to see these kinds of results?

This question tells you the timeline for their expected results and whether it's achievable. If your timelines aren't compatible, it can also be a major sign to disqualify the prospect.

17. Why is this a priority for you to see these results now?

It tells you if the prospect has or lacks the proper motivation to make a purchase decision right away.

18. Why now, but not last quarter or year?

This helps you understand why the prospect is currently hunting for a solution.

19. If you don’t find a solution for [challenge/problem area], what will [process] look like in a year?

This prompts them to consider the potential challenges and outcomes of continuing their current process without a new solution. It also motivates them to address their challenge as soon as possible. 

20. How is this issue affecting the rest of your team?

Helps them see how widely their pain areas have been affecting their team and not just themselves. 

Decision-making process questions 

We’ve listed some questions for the decision-making process so you can determine which prospects are actively looking for a solution and which aren’t.

21. What’s the approximate budget for solving the problem?

This is a straightforward and must-have question to determine whether the prospect has enough money to invest in your solution and whether their budget suits your resources and time. 

22. When was the last time you purchased a similar solution?

It shows how often the company purchases a solution like yours and whether there’s a pre-existing decision-making structure for purchase.

23. Who else in your team is invested in finding the best solution to address your needs? 

Identify the top decision-makers you may be dealing with during the buying process and if they are already on board with the decision. 

24. What are your purchase criteria to make it into your decision-maker’s list for consideration?

This question lets you uncover the concerns or objections the key decision-maker may ask or have during the buying stage so you’re well prepared.

25. Who else do we need to get on board with this?

It lets prospects consider specific stakeholders who play a key role but are not yet on board or convinced they need a better process or your solution. 

26. What’s the process for purchasing the product once everyone is on board? 

At this point, you may have built a solid rapport and trust with the prospect. So it’s best to ask this frank question about an amicable purchase process. 

27. Any potential last-minute curveballs I must be aware of?

Ask this to reveal if you must foresee any unexpected challenges that might delay or halt the purchase process. 

28. What other circumstances need to be met before we execute this deal by [Date]?

This question is a clever way to set a timeline and to ensure it's hard for them to back away from the deal, considering all circumstances are met. 

29. Is there any final reason this purchase will not move forward right now? 

If they have a reason or objection, address it. If they don’t, they are most likely to move the purchase forward. 

30. Can I follow up on this by [date and time]?

Close the discovery call on a solid note by getting the best date to follow up and stay in touch.

Pro tip: AI digital assistants like Docket equip your sales account executives in the discovery process by providing instant access to relevant information and resources. 

Discovery call best practices and tips

Here are a few tips and best practices to ace your next discovery call:

1. Do thorough research  

A few things to get in order by researching before hopping on that discovery call:

  • Visit the prospect’s company and personal LinkedIn pages to learn about their recent activities, job descriptions, upcoming events, etc.

  • Check the company's “About Us” page to learn its backstory and who its primary stakeholders are

  • Double-check on the details you already have on prospects

  • Check for the company’s recent news mentions, if any

  • Keep things handy by taking notes as you come across more information about them

All these insights ensure you ask the right questions and don’t waste time looking for answers already available online.

2. Create a meeting agenda and send it to prospects before the call 

Discovery calls can have a strong grip on how the deal progression may go. So it only makes sense to paint a clear picture of expectations before the call.  For this, create an agenda for each prospect and ask them to add items if necessary.

3. Avoid asking generic questions 

Generic “yes or no” or one-word responses feel more like an interrogation than a conversation.

Always have open-ended questions handy instead of generic ones. Open-ended questions promote a two-way conversation and keep the flow going. 

4. Include questions to disqualify prospects 

Disqualifying prospects on a discovery call is as important as qualifying them. This practice ensures you don’t waste time pursuing unfit prospects. 

It’s okay to be more frank while allowing the prospects to answer carefully. Some example questions are “What’s your current budget?” and “What’s your timeline for implementing a solution?” 

5. Agree on next steps and follow-up

If the prospect has agreed on the next steps, follow up on the agreed-upon timeline for the next call or meeting. Use follow-ups to keep the conversation going and offer prospects more insights or exclusive resources. And remember to be persistent and not pushy. 

Wrapping up

Preparation is the ultimate key to displaying confidence on a sales discovery call. It also helps to focus your time and energy on prospects worth pursuing. 

Boost your preparation further using the right tools

Docket AI gives your sales account executives firsthand access to your solution’s intel by retrieving insights and data from several integrated knowledge sources. This way, your sales and GTM teams are well-informed and ask the right questions for successful sales discovery.