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Seven of the best sales discovery questions

Diagnose your customer’s dilemma with these top discovery questions.

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Discovery questions are some of the most important questions you can ask as a sales professional. They’re a crucial part of the sales process, and help you to work out whether you and your potential customer can align yourselves easily.

However, discovery questions don’t come easily to some sales professionals. They’re easy to use but difficult to master especially if you want to avoid slipping into cliches. That’s why we’ve published this list of the best discovery questions you can use in any negotiation.

Seven of the best discovery sales questions you can ask

There are seven standouts we want to give you as examples. If you use them in the right manner then your sales pipeline flow will improve, you’ll be able to boost your revenue and get your sales skyrocketing.

Tell me about your company

Any sales professional worth their salt knows that the key to securing a deal is finding the prospects’ pain, the reason for them to need your product. Imagine the scene, you’ve identified their pain, your product is the paracetamol, what do you do next? Definitely don’t just note the pain and move on you have to press a little harder.

Asking your prospect ‘tell me more about your company’ allows you to gain deeper insight into their pain, often caused by something missing at their company. It provides you with free information allowing you to change your pitch or offer to increase your chance of a final sale. Press them to reveal information about their company, warts and all.

Don’t worry about seeming too inquisitive or nosey. People love to talk about themselves and their work so play into this. Exercise good judgement and know when to press and when to pull back. Let your prospect frame the answer the way they want and you’ll be able to better focus on their pain and how you can provide the cure.

What metrics are you responsible for?

Metrics are the standards by which sales professionals are judged. They display a measurable value that shows the progress of a team or individual’s goals. Asking this question is a great leveller as every salesperson will be concerned with their key metrics and KPI.

Understanding your interlocturer’s metrics will also grant you greater insight into their company. You’ll be able to see their priorities and targets, and adapt your pitch to make a close more likely. Think of it as intelligence gathering.

The key to asking this question is to make it specific. Try to do a little research beforehand, for example, if the company you’re pitching too works in online media focus on whether your target is responsible for daily unique visits. Remember, your target wants to meet their KPIs as much as you and by understanding their metrics you both stand to benefit.

Can I ask you a difficult question?

This discovery question technique isn’t about making the negotiation process difficult for you or for your target. Rather, it’s an example of using clever psychology to frame discussions in your favour and inject some urgency or finality. There are three key reasons for doing so.

Firstly it prepares the prospect for a change in the tone and direction of your talks. Secondly, it shows deference and politeness, allowing you greater leeway to change direction if required. Finally, it allows you to take greater latitude with the question you’re about to ask.

Most people actively avoid asking difficult questions because they’re afraid of upsetting the apple cart. Don’t be like this, challenge the system and challenge your potential customer. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how well they’ll respond to a direct yet respectful manner.

Why is X important to you?

Asking your potential customer why something is important to them is similar to the previous question in that it grants you an insight into their thinking process. What ‘X’ equals here could be your product, their priorities, or a reason why the target says they can’t commit to a sale. This question is particularly useful for negotiations when you don’t know your customer’s pain.

Think about this question as a way of getting your target to do your work for you. After they reveal what’s important to them you can hone in on this issue and adapt your pitch to target it. It’s personal, precise and a great example of critical thinking.

The key to using this particular sales discovery question is to avoid asking it in a situation where considerable prior research is required. Asking this question at the wrong moment could make you come across as ill prepared. As a sales professional you need to exercise your best judgement.

What do you think would be a good solution?

The beauty of this discovery question is that it gets your prospect to do the work for you. It is a more advanced variant of the classic sales question ‘what solutions have you tried to implement’. Both questions are similar however asking for the target’s solution works better.

This is because by asking for the target’s solution you don’t have to guess what they want. They may well not have an answer which allows you to then take full control of the sales process. If they respond with a solution that puts you on a backfoot, i.e. a competitor’s product, you can swing back as you’re now better informed and able to change tactics.

This question allows you to align your responses to the target’s response. Whatever response they provide it allows you to take initiative and direct negotiations in a manner you feel most comfortable with. It’s a great example of how you can ask a discovery question to take full control of the sales process.

Do you have written criteria for making your decision?

Have you ever written out a list of pros and cons while coming to a decision? It’s a really effective way to arrive at a decision and many businesspeople use similar systems. Therefore it’s a good plan to discover what your target’s written criteria or pros and cons are.

This question is another example of how you can gather intelligence on your prospect by using a sales discovery question. It allows you to discover how serious their business is (the more prepared a business is the more planned out their processes) and also gives you more ammunition for your own pitch. You’ll also be able to line up your own written criteria with theirs.

By doing this you’ll be able to remove a considerable number of potential stumbling blocks. Just make sure to plan ahead and you’ll be able to use this discovery question to great success.

How can I make this easier for you?

You know what Bill Gate and Steve Jobs had in common? They actively sought to hire procrastinators because they realised people who found the easiest route to completing a task were the most efficient. You should apply this logic to your sales questions and make the process easier for both you and your prospect.

Asking your target how to make the process easier for them goes beyond just establishing a personal connection. By utilizing this technique you can make your sales process a lot more efficient by getting to the heart of a simple inquiry; What needs to be done to close the deal?

This makes it simple to work out what needs to be done to secure the deal and carry it out. Ease equals efficiency and there’s nothing wrong with that. Use this question and you will come across as a competent professional who can successfully establish an emotional connection efficiently.

Dive into discovery

Sales discovery questions are an insightful and efficient way for you to secure your deals fast. These examples will go a long way to helping you to streamline your sales processes. Do you have any discovery questions you think you can implement yourself? Then experiment and share your results.

We’d love to hear how you get on with sales discovery questions so remember to like and subscribe to our social media pages. Keep following our blog for more content about questions in sales and a variety of other related subjects.