“I start by asking the other person what they hope to learn on the call,” freelance writer and account executive Jessica Benjamin says. “Stay curious.”
Active listening is important for all stages of the discovery call, from the first few seconds of gauging someone’s interest through the end of the call when determining if this is a fit or not. When you’re genuinely curious about the person on the other end of the line, you’re more likely to ask questions that open new pathways for the conversation.
Rather than asking someone,“How are you?” try, “What’s the most exciting thing for your team right now?” Done well, this line of questioning will help you qualify your leads and build a real sense of trust. Since 68% of buyers feel salespeople aren’t listening to them, this trust can go a long way.
Being curious also helps form a bond with your prospects. When you’re curious, you’re letting them know that you’re interested in what they have to say and not just pushing them toward a sale. When you’re receptive to new ideas, the other party is often happy to show up in the same way.
2. Don’t force it—stay genuine
When building relationships, authenticity matters. Albert Hayfaz, co-founder and CEO of VOOOZER, suggests that people can sense anxiety or similar feelings, whether you’re meeting in person or through video chat.
“Keep calm, take your time, and own some silence time between sentences or interactions. People can smell anxiety and similar stuff through the phone/call,” he says.
Your prospect might not see you jiggling your foot or fidgeting anxiously with your pen, but they can still sense the anxiety. The same goes for false bravado or feigned interest.
By shifting gears to value-driven sales, you can help yourself stay focused on building authentic relationships. Try these tips:
Keep calm by remembering that the other person on the line is human, too.
Approach the call earnestly by reminding yourself of how your products help solve problems for your clients.
Focus on supporting your clients and delivering an exceptional experience for them.
Another way to show up authentically is to demonstrate a genuine interest in the person you’re speaking with. One respondent shared on social media that they open their discovery calls by congratulating prospects on their recent launches or milestones. This helps build empathy and breaks the ice, making the conversation feel more personal.
3. Start with the easy questions
You have an important story to tell, and you know your product has resonated enough to warrant the call. Now your job is to find out more.
Start with easy questions like, “Is that problem something you’ve dealt with before?” That way, your prospect can keep it simple: yes or no. From there, you have plenty of opportunities to dig deeper by asking meaningful and pointed questions, for example:
How often does this happen?
How long has this been going on?
Can you give me an example?
According to John Hill, founder of Adapted Growth, questions like these go for depth and remove some of the awkwardness from the conversation. No one likes to feel like they’re being interviewed for a job, but starting with questions that are easy to answer before getting into more open-ended topics can help your conversation start to flow.
4. Stay prepared with visual cues and/or a call agenda
While you want your conversation to flow naturally, it's also essential to cover the relevant information and collect the necessary data before ending the call.
To stay on track, Tiffany Bayliss, founder of Lawyerly, suggests putting up post-it notes with ‘must mention’ items beside your screen. She says, “I make sure the call doesn't end with me having forgotten to talk about it.” The visual cue allows you to follow your curiosity without getting completely off track and helps you remember what you’re there to learn.
Examples of prompts to keep on your sticky note include:
What decision-makers do we need to bring in?
What is your buying process?
How many users will you have?
Many sales professionals suggest using a call agenda to keep participants on the same page.
Doing your research and creating an agenda before the call is always a good idea—and according to account executive and sales coach Greg Bauman, this list can do double duty.
Using your pre-call list as a “rubric” for the quality of your conversation can help you see where you did well and where you have room to improve. Did you touch on every topic you had in mind?
If you spent most of the time discussing your lead’s pain points but ran out of time before you could ask about their buying process, you know this is something to flag for future calls. Using the Salesroom Airtime Analysis feature, you can learn communication and behaviors over time, allowing you to improve down the road.
6. Take notes
As part of active listening, many responders to our question suggested taking notes while you’re on the call. According to startup sales leader Joe Benjamin, taking notes is an underrated tool for discovery call success.
Along with active listening and outlining questions in advance, notetakers can dig deep into the prospect’s buying journey and reflect on what they learned.
Other respondents suggest these notes provide “nuggets of information” sales professionals can draw on later in the call.
These notes can be used in conversation or during follow-up calls, for example:
“You mentioned earlier that you jumped into the role a few months ago—is your process different from what you did before?”
“How is everything going with the new office? Last time we spoke, you were getting ready to move.”
If you’d rather stay focused and in the moment, Notes on Salesroom are a quick way to capture thoughts and moments to share and consume after the call. They are designed to stay out of your way so you can easily capture them while actively listening.
The number one suggestion our social network responders had? Be quiet! The discovery call should be about listening to your client, not pushing a sale.
For sales professionals in the process of making a discovery call, leaving room for silence opens new pathways for conversation, helps you accumulate knowledge, and lets the client know you’re ready to learn. This can look like:
Taking meaningful pauses after you’ve asked a question
Nudging them for more information if needed (“Wait, you said this problem happens every quarter, does that mean you have trouble getting reports out on time?”)
Taking a deep breath before jumping into a response, leaving your prospects more space to share
There might be information you need, but finding the answers means unpacking the potential buyer’s pain points and process. The discovery call is your chance to build a relationship, learn more about their business, and figure out where your products can help solve their pain.
Discover more about the discovery process
Remember, the purpose of a discovery call is to validate whether or not the product is right for the prospect. Whether you’re practicing active listening, taking notes, or showing empathy and curiosity, the end goal is always the same: to qualify your lead.
The above-mentioned tips will not only help you qualify your leads but also help you build relationships. This starts with asking the right questions, listening for the right answers, and keeping the potential buyer’s interests in mind.
Discovery calls typically last between 15 minutes to an hour, and you need to make every second count. To help ease the pressure, Salesroom provides you with real-time insight and removes the administrative components from your desk. This way, you can focus on learning, improving your skills, and perfecting your discovery calls.