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3 Essential Parts of a Successful Discovery Call

4 min read
Updated Aug. 25, 2021
Published Jun. 30, 2017

Monologues may be celebrated in Shakespeare, but you want to keep your discovery call away from the theatrics and encourage open communication. New research from shows that there is a real tactical advantage to increasing the number of verbal exchanges during your discovery calls. The discovery calls with the highest rates of success aren’t one-sided, they’re more like a verbal tennis match.

After analyzing over 500,000 discovery calls, the data showed that even the number of conversational exchanges impacts success rates. The research found that on average, the more a conversation switches speakers, the greater likelihood of a successful conversation.

discovery call data

The chart above shows this interesting correlation: as the speaker switches increase, the call success rate also ticks up.

Improving Conversation Flow

While much of our new report data has some clear prescriptive takeaways, the number of speaker switches is a less intuitive metric to improve. You can’t force a prospect to talk more, right? However, you can make substantial improvements to your conversational flow by simply being more aware of your conversational habits. Tools like allow you to see how much you’re talking and listening in an easy-to-understand, visual format. For many sales professionals, the amount of time they actually spend speaking is surprising. Asking more questions and encouraging more conversation will help you balance out that ratio.

When making your discovery call, you may want to dive straight into problem finding mode, just like you may want to slip into your sales pitch. Remember you are building a customer relationship. Dividing your discovery call into segments, with a clear beginning, middle, and end, allows for you to provide efficient call value. Our research found that successful discovery calls with consistent back and forth break down into three different sections; rapport building, open discussion about current company problems, and logistics and next steps.

discovery call chart

Build Your Rapport

It’s easy to imagine top performing sales reps jumping straight into calls with their perfectly honed sales pitch, but data showed top performers took a more engaging and welcoming approach. Top performing sales reps consistently spent the first few minutes of their discovery calls easing into a comfortable rapport with their prospects.

Rapport building may conjure images of small talk and simple questions like “How’s the weather?”, but I highly recommend you do your research on how to break the ice. Learn more about your prospect by using social media or Salesloft’s integration with Crystal. You can often find topics or tidbits that can make your prospect more comfortable and get them to open up and start talking right off the bat. Regardless of how you build report, this first call segment is about welcoming a potential business partner and starting that relationship on the right foot.

Uncover Business Issues

Now it’s time to shift focus on your discovery call to why the prospect needs your product. This doesn’t mean diving into sales pitch mode. You actually need to put on your detective cap and work to discover just what problems currently exist within the company.

Our research found that the most successful sales reps spend a majority of their sales calls uncovering a company’s ongoing problems. This is where the bulk of your back and forth will occur. Ask the questions to find and learn the problems that you will be able to provide a solution for.

discovery call data

We found that calls that talked about three or four issues saw the most success. By uncovering either three or four existing problems that your product can solve, you provide a valid reason for the prospect to continue the sales process. Interestingly enough, success rates began to decline once five or more problems were discussed — which makes sense, I wouldn’t want someone listing off five of my flaws either.

Discuss the Next Steps

The final portion of your call needs to revolve around logistics and next steps. Sales cycles are all about momentum. Top performing sales reps ensure that the end of their discovery calls are focused on moving the conversation forward. What are the next steps? Who is responsible for taking them? What is the expected timeline for those next steps to happen? You shouldn’t leave any room for ambiguity or doubt.

If you think about it, breaking your discovery call into these sections is a lot like drafting a three act play. Each prospect offers a different storyline. The question is which role will you deliver? Are you the average performer with rigid behavior that falls into old habits? Or are you billed with the top performers by executing efficient conversation flow?

Download your copy of the free report today and start turning every discovery call into a highly qualified opportunity.