Commercial efficiency
4 min reading

The discovery questions that will make a sale

Paul Berloty
Published on
customer discovery questions that make a sale

And yes ... we are there. Reading this article again, I think we may be pushing the envelope a little too far. But knowing how to ask 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:

1. 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.

2. 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.

Be careful, this meeting should not feel like an interrogation! The art of a good discovery phase is to learn as much as possible about your prospect while maintaining a semblance of 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:‍

  • ‍Whatis 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 does not match the typical profile, it is time to end your conversation. You have the proof that your prospect corresponds to the target: you can refine your knowledge by attacking the qualifying questions.

This phase will make a lot of sense for you, it allows you to quickly determine if your prospect can be a potential customer but it will make much less sense for your prospect. So try to go fast.

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

Data on time spent on basic questions during a sale

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 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.

analysis of the time dedicated to qualifying questions in a sale
analysis of the time dedicated to the next steps in a sale


The unavoidable questions:‍

How do you deal with (the problem you detected)?‍

Obvious question. In addition to acknowledging with your interlocutor that he has a "problem" he will share with you his frustrations related to this problem. This is where it all starts. If there are no frustrations, then I regret to say that it will become extremely complicated for your sale to succeed. If there are frustrations then follow through.‍

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

‍‍Howlong 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 help him or her gain perspective. ‍

"It must be well over two years now"‍

‍Andhave you considered a solution or do you not plan 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 in good shape.

‍"Yeah, we tried to do some plumbing ourselves so it wouldn't cost us too much, but we blew up the boiler...we need to come up with a solution that doesn't cost us too much."‍

‍What doyou like about our service/product?‍

It may seem extremely surprising to you, but no matter if your prospect is an "inbound lead" or an "outbound lead" you will see that they will answer you. Maybe some will tell you "you are the one who contacted me, I don't know anything about your product" but we have thought of everything and this is what you can answer them. It's up to you to create the need by asking questions.‍

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

Analysis of the appearance of the subject "I want" in a sale

‍And what don't you like at all?‍

Likewise, take notes to guide your speech, and try to dig deeper and find out why. If your proposal avoids these pitfalls, insist on it. On the contrary, if what you are selling has the same issues, evangelize the prospect on the reality of the market.

"I think your product is too expensive for what it pays"‍

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 the suite.

3. Questions that put their finger precisely on the spot

These questions are part of the qualifying questions phase. That's it, you've identified your prospect's problems. It's up to you to make them realize 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 recognized that the problem was significant 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 this affect your goals and those of the company?
  • How does this affect your delivery times?
  • What effect does this have on your employees / collaborators?

End of the discovery. Bravo !

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

To end on a high note:

  1. Recap the meeting by asking closed questions. Your goal: to get as many "yes" answers as possible.
  2. Suggest a next step based on your conversation, such as a demo appointment.

You will find several articles on the blog to put all the chances on your side during the demo, do not miss our best tips!


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

⚑Send me an email to: 



Paul Berloty
CEO and Co-founder
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