How to Create a Discovery Meeting Outline


Discovery is the most important part of any sales process, because that’s where reps uncover critical information to position a meaningful solution for the buyer. If your sales process includes a designated call for discovery, this post is for you. How you run a discovery call will make or break the deal. Use this overview to create your call plan template if you’re looking to execute effective and repeatable discovery calls.

Pre-call Research

Having a successful discovery call actually begins before anyone fires up Zoom — it all starts with pre-call research. Great pre-call research generates intelligent questions, a relatable customer story, and the ability to proactively involve other stakeholders.

At a minimum pre-call research should uncover insights about the prospect, their company, and any relevant industry current events. A top performer will go beyond getting the basic information and will review details like the lead source (e.g., inbound). With this information, they can tailor their approach or find others in the org who will likely need to be a part of the decision should this call progress to the product demo.

Rapport Statement

The start of a call is the precious moment when you are able to establish yourself as valuable, so let’s stop talking about the weather. Using pre-call research, establish quick rapport by having something prepared to share about their company or industry. For example, something like this:

Hey John, I’ve been looking forward to speaking with you because I worked with company X who is also in the Y industry. We’ve had good success with them and they’ve been a lot of fun to work with.

Time Check & Mutual Agenda

Having delivered your quick rapport statement, it’s time to kick off the discovery call. A prospect’s time is valuable and they’re gracious to be sharing it with us — we can’t waste it. Take a moment to confirm the time scheduled still works, then ask what they are most interested in taking away from the call. With that, you’re ready to establish a mutual agenda. This may sound something like:

I’d like to quickly confirm you’re still good for the 30 minutes we have scheduled?

Great, before I set an agenda, I’d like to understand your goal for the call today…

Let’s start by reviewing the current state at {company}, which I have some questions prepared to help me better understand. After that, we can talk through [goal the prospect stated]. Then, if it seems like we can help, I'll share more about our solution. If there doesn't seem to be a good fit we can part ways as friends, but if we agree there is a good fit, we can talk through next steps which would include a product demo. Is that fair? Is there anything else you would like to add?

This agenda works because it starts with them, includes their goal and uses inclusive partnership language like “if we can help,” “if we agree,” or “is that fair?”.

Build Trust & Rapport in Discovery

With an agenda set, it’s time to learn more about their business and why they took this call. Every rep should have a set of intelligent discovery questions to help guide a meaningful conversation. If you’re missing this, check out this guide for more help on creating first, second, and third level questions. At a minimum, discovery questions must uncover how things are being done today, what problems they’re experiencing, and the business and personal impact of the problems. 

Discovery is never over, but for a 30 minute discovery call, it’s about give and take. After spending about 10-15 minutes learning more about current state, problems, and impact, it’s time to transition to sharing the value proposition.

Value Proposition & Impact

Mark a shift in the conversation by thanking the prospect for answering all the questions and sharing the insights about their current challenges.

John, I really appreciate the conversation. I'll certainly have more questions as we move forward, but I feel like I understand enough about your business and challenges to share at a high-level how we can help. Does that work for you? 

Keep the value proposition concise with specific talk-tracks and focus on their challenges and desired outcomes learned in the front of the call. Communicate your value proposition in terms of the features the solution offers, the advantages to using your technology vs the way they're currently doing things, and the benefits they can expect to experience. Always touch on the benefits in terms of impact. Remember, if this is the typical 30-minute discovery call, you have about 10 minutes to share before you need to move on to establishing next steps.

Establishing Timeline & Next Steps

At this point in the call, you’ve learned your prospect’s current state, including the problems causing their challenges and the impact they’re having. If you’ve done things correctly, you’ve earned the right to ask about their decision timeline and establish next steps. Don’t skip this step. It sounds a little like this:

We uncovered X and Y challenges, and you mentioned early they were a top priority for you, but I’m curious, how long do you have to figure X and Y challenges out? Interesting, why by then?

Many reps don’t effectively establish next steps, and as a result, end up chasing their prospect with the all too common follow up email. Always leave some time at the end to set next steps, which may sound something like:

John, we have done really great work here today. It’s still too soon to tell if we’re the best fit for you, but from what we know it’s likely. I recommend we set up a deeper dive specific to your use case of increasing quota attainment. I’d suggest including some reps from your team for the next call so we can address any questions and make sure this is something they would also use and see value in. Let's pull up calendars and get this scheduled before we jump off…

In Conclusion

Your conversations will not be linear, and it’s okay to jump around. For example, if you wind up sharing pieces of the value proposition during the discovery portion - it’s okay, curveballs will happen. But using a call plan outline like this will help avoid getting off track and guide the conversation; and as a professional seller the prospect is looking for your guidance. We recommend using OverQuota or your favorite note taking application to create call plan templates to guide your call. For a bit more guidance, download this quick start template and start your successful discovery process now!