How to Ask Better Discovery Questions

Asking effective questions throughout the entire sales process is critical, but doing so during the discovery call uncovers the challenges the prospect is experiencing and how you can help them. In this way, using effective questions during the discovery call brings your deal to life. Yet, most sales reps struggle with asking questions, and as a result, continue to lose winnable deals.

Use this simple question framework to create a set of your own first, second, and third level discovery questions to change the conversation. Then, watch your deals come alive.

First Level Questions

These preliminary questions initiate conversation by revealing thoughts, facts, behaviors, and situations.​ First level questions are often high-level and answer the questions, what, who, and when?“​

A few examples of first level questions we ask buyers evaluating OverQuota:

  • What technology do you currently use to support the sales team?
  • What percentage of reps are achieving quota year to date?
  • When would you like to have this challenge solved?
  • Who needs to be a part of the evaluation process?
  • What is your process for deciding which vendor you will choose?​
  • What is the budget set aside for solving these challenges?

You likely already have a list of first level questions to ask in discovery, if not, write out 8-10 questions. Be selective with your first level questions to stay away from turning the call into an interrogation and choose questions to point the conversation in the direction of your solution.

Second Level Questions

These should be used as a follow-up to the first level questions and encourage buyers to explain in more detail.​ A second level question prompts a prospect to think through a thought in more detail to address the why. 

A few examples of second level questions we ask buyers evaluating OverQuota:

  • May I ask why you chose those technologies to support the sales team and what you like/don’t like about them?
  • If you had to guess, why do you think X% of reps are missing quota?
  • That timeline sounds important, why is that?

While second level questions answer the “why,” they don’t always have to include the word why. If they do, it’s important to add additional context to avoid putting your prospect on the defense.

Third Level Questions​

Third level questions address buyers on an emotional and tactical level.​ They ask “how” and help to understand how prospects will benefit from investing in the product or service.​

A few examples of third level questions we ask buyers evaluating OverQuota:

  • If the problem you have described is not resolved, how will it impact your organization’s sales?​
  • How would solving this impact you personally?
  • How do you envision solving the problem?
  • How would real time prompts on calls help your reps close more deals?

Most sales reps do not get to third level questions, but the ones who do build stronger rapport, trust, and develop a consultative partnership with the buyer.

Asking the right questions in the sales process will provide the information you need to move a prospect from awareness to consideration and then to a confident buyer. Writing out your go-to first, second, and third level questions for your calls is the first step to successfully winning more deals and achieving quota. Once you have your go to questions ready to go, take a look at how to implement them along with other key aspects needed for running more effective discovery calls.