customer discovery questions that make a sale

Discovery questions that make a sale

And yes ... that's where we are.

Rereading this article, I think that perhaps we are pushing the envelope a little too far.

But asking the right questions can be decisive.

Decisive in sales, decisive in recruitment, in consulting, in medicine, in short, everywhere.

In sales, when we talk about "questions" we often also talk about the "discovery phase".

We had shared with you our 5 tips to avoid missing your discovery phase in another article.

As a reminder, a discovery phase should allow you to identify the potential "problems" of your prospect that your solution could solve and to subtly make him understand that these problems can be solved by your product.

Today we're back to the questions that make a good discovery phase. πŸ‘‡πŸΌ

To begin with, these are the 2 types of questions you will use during a discovery phase:

Open questions: who, what, where, when, how, why?


  • Perfect for letting the prospect talk about themselves, setting the tone, the level of granularity expected.
  • Calls for a detailed, constructed response.
  • Allows you to start a conversation and above all to get your prospect talking.

Closed questions: yes or no answers.


  • Questions to gather factual information.
  • Calls for a short and expeditious response.
  • Do not engage in discussion.
  • Perfect for summarising what you've just told yourself, so you can move on to the next step.


Please note that this meeting should not resemble an interrogation!

The art of a good discovery phase is to learn as much as possible about your prospect while maintaining some semblance of a conversation.

Remember: the best of us, during our sales meetings, manage to make you forget that you are a salesman.


The discovery phase consists of 3 steps:

1. Basic discovery questions

Objective: to check if your prospect is in the target group and to allow you to gather important information for the rest of your exchanges.

You can mix open and closed questions.

Examples of basic questions:


  • What is your function within the company?
  • How many employees do you have?
  • What is your complementary health insurance?
  • Do you have a car?
  • etc...


If at the end of this phase :


  • Your prospect doesn't fit the profile: it's time to end the conversation.
  • You have proof that your prospect is the target: you can refine your knowledge by attacking the qualifying questions.


This phase will make a lot of sense to you, it allows you to quickly determine if your prospect is a potential customer but it will make much less sense to your prospect.


So try to go quickly.


Tip: To avoid giving the impression of an interrogation, do not invest more than 5 minutes.



2. Qualifying discovery questions

Now that you know that the person you are talking to is a potential buyer, you need to find out their habits and behaviour.

In this stage, it is crucial to ask open-ended questions and, above all, to let your interviewer speak.

This is where you have to be a master conductor.

  1. Bring out the problem by asking questions
  2. Make your prospect want to, and even urgently need to, solve the problem.

This phase is similar to a discussion and is therefore much more sustainable for your prospect. It is often the most technical phase and you should therefore invest more time in it.

Tip: Invest at least 27 minutes but leave time to lock in the next steps at the end of the conversation.


Our key questions:

  • How do you deal with (the problem you have identified)?


Obvious question.


In addition to acknowledging that the other person has a "problem", he or she will share his or her frustrations with you. This is where it all starts.


If there are no frustrations then I regret to say that it is going to be extremely difficult for your sale to succeed. If there are frustrations then follow on.


"I must admit that since we no longer have running water we only take our showers on rainy days..."


  • How long has it been?


This question is super important because it allows you to know how long your prospect has been dealing with this issue. You are helping them to take a step back.Β 

"It must be two years now".


  • And have you considered a solution or do you not intend to solve the problem right away?


I love this question because it immediately sets the tone for the rest of the conversation. If the prospect is satisfied, you'll have to look for the little bugger. If, on the other hand, your prospect is already starting to complain, you're on the right track.

"Yes, we tried to do the plumbing ourselves to avoid it costing us too much, but we blew up the boiler... we have to find a solution that doesn't cost us too much.


  • What do you like about our service/product?


It may seem extremely surprising but no matter whether your prospect is an inbound or an outbound lead you will find that they will respond to you. Maybe some will say "you contacted me, I don't know anything about your product" but we've thought of everything and here's what you can say. It is up to you to create the need by asking questions.

"I confess that I don't know much about it, but in broad terms I like the fact that your tool allows you to do ..."


  • And what do you not like at all?


Likewise, take notes to guide your speech, and try to find out why.Β 

If your proposal avoids these pitfalls, insist on it. On the contrary, if what you are selling has the same problems, evangelise the prospect about the reality of the market.

"I think your product is too expensive for what it brings".

If you are at this point, it's a good sign. Your prospect understands that your product provides value. He's just downplaying that value, making it too expensive.

But for that, follow on.


3. Questions that put their finger precisely on the spot

These questions are part of the qualifying questions phase.

Now you have identified your prospect's problems.

It's up to you to make them aware that it's time to change.

That's where the best of us are. Put yourself in your prospect's shoes for two minutes, that's when he understands the whole circus you've set up.

That you have asked a series of questions to bring out a problem.

That thanks to your questions, he himself recognised that the problem was big and that a solution had to be found.

And they will have to move on, probably even invest in a solution that looks like what you are selling.


  • What would happen if the problem persists?
  • How does it affect your objectives, the company's results?
  • How does this affect your delivery times?
  • What effect does this have on your employees / collaborators?


End of discovery

Well done!

If you have got this far, chances are that the prospect is very interested in going further.

To end on a high note:

➑️ Recap the meeting by asking closed questions. Your goal: to get as many "yes" answers as possible.

➑️ Suggest a next step based on your conversation, such as a demonstration appointment.


You'll find several articles on the blog to help you get the most out of the demo, so don't miss our best tips!

Has this article given you ideas? Do you have a technique that works?

⚑Send me an email to: 


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Paul Berloty
January 24, 2022
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