Sales Questions for Discovery 

Sales questions for discovery, in prospecting, uncovering needs, building rapport and qualifying, are critical in the sales process

Original Article Source: Sales Questions for Discovery – The Digital Sales Institute

The goal of sales questions for discovery purposes is for salespeople to have valuable conversations with various customer profiles and adapt the company’s value proposition to the unique situation of each buyer. Great conversations should happen on purpose, not by accident. But to have conversations that win, the sales questions, messages, storytelling, marketing content, and sales skills need to work together.

“In B2B selling only 3% of your market is actively buying at any given time, 57% are not ready and 40% are poised to begin.” – Aberdeen Group

The above percentages support the logic that sales questions must build a bridge to connect with buyers on a personal level, understand what’s important to them, get insight into their thinking, and create better options for them. The importance of asking the right sales questions is vital if a salesperson is to engage in really meaningful sales conversations with prospects or customers.

Sales Questions for Discovery – Attention and Signal vs. Noise

Today, buyer attention is in short supply, they are lost in a sea of more information, advertising, and messages like never before. Sales questions and conversations should be crafted to get attention, be strong signals above the noise. Sales questions that resonate with a prospect’s plans and desires. Mind share and being “top of mind” have never been more prized than they are now. Intelligent sales questions that give a buyer food for thought is a major plank in getting mind share time. So, keep your sales questions relevant and your sales conversations noteworthy.

For sales questions to get above the noise, the starting point is to understanding your customer’s needs, try to imagine the world from your customers’ point of view. Who are they, and what motivates them? What’s their day like? What are their challenges or goals? Is the relationship between seller and buyer more partnership based, purely business or transaction based?

Sales Question to Ask to fill the GAP

Sales questions for discovery must fill the GAP and address what the buyer or decision makers in the company want to accomplish. Sales questions that uncovers the GAP between where they are now and where they want to be? And the GAP in the sales process is nearly always determined by the responsibilities and stance of the decision maker.

GAP sales questions for discovery should be constructed to answer insights such as;

How is the decision maker rewarded, and for what?

What is it that the decision maker has to do to earn the respect and support of his or her superiors and peers?

On what basis, and for what results, does he or she get recognized for?

It can be too easy to forget that one of the deepest subconscious needs of all people is the need for self-esteem, feeling valuable, important and worthwhile. If the series of sales questions can find out what a person needs to do to increase their self-esteem and their perceived value in their organization, and then show them that by using your product or service, they can earn the approval and appreciation of the people around them and above them, they will often be highly motivated to buy what you are selling.

“When engaging with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion.”


sales questions for discovery success

Ten things you need to know about your customers

  1. Who they are.
    How long have they been in their role, outside work interests, shared connections, social background, previous roles etc.?
  2. What they do
    Understanding of what their business is trying to achieve, responsibilities, goals, how they are measured?
  3. Why they buy
    Reactionary, planned, early adopters, triggers etc? This helps to match their needs to the benefits your business can offer.
  4. When they buy
    Needs driven? budget driven? solution driven? Seasonal driven? Uncovering buying trends can increase the opportunity to enter into deeper sales negotiation conversations.
  5. How they buy and select vendors
    What is the internal process? Who is on the buying committee? Any criteria a vendor is expected to pass? Terms?
  6. Do they have budgets or how much money they have
    Being able to afford the offering means a buyer can commit to the sales process, avoid chasing dead-ends by discovering does the contact have authority over budgets.
  7. What makes them feel good about buying solutions
    B2B buyers are emotional creatures as well. If you know what makes them tick, you can serve them in the way they prefer.
  8. What they expect of you as a salesperson and partner
    For example, if your customers expect 24/7 support and you don’t disappoint them, you stand to gain repeat business.
  9. What they think about you
    Your personal brand is important. If your customers trust your insights, views you as bringing value and enjoys dealing with you, they’re likely to engage with you more. And you can only tackle problems that customers have if you know what they are.
  10. What they think about your competitors
    If you know how your customers view your competition, you stand a much better chance of staying ahead of your rivals.

Sales Question for Discovery Success

As stated above, in order to get a sale and a customer, you must first understand what your customers want and need and what the differences are between the two. So here is a list of 30 sales questions for discovery and qualification.

What are your short-term goals? Long-term goals?

What does this solution mean to you? What does it mean to your company?

What is your expected outcome from selecting this solution?

What is your boss hoping to accomplish in the next year?

How do your team objectives play into your department’s strategy?

What do you perceive as your greatest strength? Weakness?

How does your company evaluate the potential of new products or services?

Who has your business now? Why did you choose that vendor?

What are your buying criteria and success criteria?

Where would you put the emphasis regarding price, quality, and service?

What level of service are you looking for?

What do you like best about your present supplier? What don’t you like?

What do you look for in the companies you do business with?

What might cause you to change suppliers?

What do you like best about your current system? What would you like to see changed?

What do you perceive your needs to be? How important are they?

If you were me, how would you proceed?

Where do you go to inform yourself of developments?

What factors would influence your decision to consider changing?

What will it take for us to do business?

How soon can we begin?

What is my best shot for getting back the account?

What did we do in the last sale that impressed you most?

What do you look for in your relationship with a supplier?

Who was the best salesperson who ever called on you?

If you could change one thing about your organization, what would it be?

Do you struggle with [common pain point]?

What deadlines are you currently up against?

Which resource could you use more of?

Would you rather cut costs, save money, or increase productivity?

Sales Questions Have A Place in Every Part of The Sales Process

The use of sales questions for discovery and uncovering of opportunities is a major skill every salesperson should master via sales training. However, it takes research, planning, trial and error to gather a list of questions that work for your industry. In your sales skills arsenal, more intelligent and well thought out sales questions will deliver better results across the whole sales process.

Benefits of Online Sales Training

Benefits of online sales training are becoming more apparent as organizations and salespeople look for a more modern approach to up-skilling

Republished from  Benefits of Online Sales Training – The Digital Sales Institute

These include automating the sales training process, minimizing time away from job, controlling disruption and in reducing sales training costs. In a rapidly changing sales world, the investment in sales training is vital to improving the sales team’s knowledge, productivity and overall sales skills. The ROI of all sales training is about measuring increased sales in the longer term plus ensuring a happier more motivation team of salespeople which reduces employee.

While classroom-based sales training still has its place, the cost, logistics involved and impact on productivity has many companies challenging its relevancy. In no small part to technology advancement, video solutions, streaming capabilities and course ware development the benefits of online sales training are compelling.

Tapping into a world of web-based sales training experts and online sales training material means rolling out an online based sales training program has never been easier. With the help of an online sales training provider, a cost-effective sales training program will be up and running in no time.

One of the major benefits of online sales training is that the sales programs are focused on topics the learner has selected. Removed from dominating opinions and time pressure allows the learner to concentrate fully on course content being offered via the online sales training program. Another one of the benefits of online sales training for a salesperson is that there are no distractions or deviating off topic. In fact, many leading sales transformation experts believe that online sales training provides a more purer learning environment.

Ask any salesperson or manager and they will tell you that selling is a lot more complicated in today’s attention poor yet busy world. Now there is on average 5 stakeholders involved in most buying decisions and that goes for less complicated or inbound sales as well. The reality is most salespeople are or need to sell to five people which makes their role even harder.

One can understand why switched on companies mandate sales training so their salespeople will improve their ability to sell more effectively to a whole host of stakeholders. They are alert to the fact that continual sales training is required to sharpen sales skills, keep abreast of the latest thinking, develop better buyer engagement skills and close more deals. However, continual sales training does not have to eat into their productive sales time or become cost prohibitive. Which is why online sales training has become vital. The very nature of this self-paced learning means the salesperson can undertake any sales training at a time, pace and place that suits them.

Benefits of Online Sales Training

Useful and ease of use.

Every sales training program has to be useful, but is it?  Useful sales training is defined as the degree to which a salesperson believes that attending a particular course will enhance their job performance. In essence, useful sales training can be seen as providing content that is beneficial to the sales team’s daily activity load. If any course content doesn’t appear relevant to the sales teams, it stands to reason they will not meaningfully engage with it. But keeping in-house sales training materials fresh, Up to date, relevant and useful can be expensive or laborious. This is why salespeople constantly rate online sales training higher than in-house, they find it more useful as its fresher.  Plus, from a business point of view, its more cost effective. Double win.

When we discuss “ease of use” it is more about the presentation format of the sales training rather than the content itself. Any tool deployed to improve sales skills should be easy for learners to interact with while enhancing their learning experience. Because online sales training is available 24/7, self-paced and digital in nature it is relatively low on effort to access meaning salespeople are more willing to use it. For a company, this lower the barriers to getting salespeople to take ownership of their own skills improvement.

Realizing the Benefits of Online Sales Training

Your salespeople may be your competitive advantage when it comes to explaining to a buyer the unique advantages of your product. Increased and crowded competition will demand strong sales strategies that deliver results. So, the importance of continued sales training to lock in the sales team’s ability to play their part in any growth strategy can’t be ignored. The benefits of online sales training can help your salespeople sell better to both existing and new customers, empower them to take ownership for their upskilling, to meet and beat quotas plus help the business outperform the competition.

Overall Sales effectiveness Improves

One of the many benefits of online sales training is that salespeople become better engaged with modern sales tactics, knowledge and tools to improve their close rates. Overall sales KPI’s also improve as they can better prospect, develop and maximize any sales leads provided to them.

Retention of Salespeople Goes Up

Numerous research articles now show that salespeople value sales training and when access to ongoing sales training programs are in place, they are less likely to leave an organization. This boosts retention of both salespeople and valuable knowledge which in turn lowers turnover.

Sales Productivity Increases

Knowing what to do and when to do it has always been vital in sales. More benefits of online sales training are that access to constantly updated content means salespeople become better skilled and more creative at problem-solving to buyers’ challenges. Any salesperson who has achieved a higher level of sales mastery will find it easier to match their product and their customer needs in a mutually beneficial way. They will also be better able to sort where they need to prioritize their sales activity.

Salespeople Take Ownership

One of the top benefits of online sales training is that salespeople assume ownership for their own skill improvement. Combined with mandated sales training, online sales training compliments and reinforces their learning path to becoming a more accomplished salesperson.

Cultivates a Winning Sales Environment

As online sales training can be accessed by anyone and everyone wishing to improve their knowledge of the sales process, e.g., customer support, pre-sales, marketing etc., this will have the effect of a more sales-focused environment and a deeper understanding of customers. Which can lead to more connected teams and a shared drive to grow revenue.

Time Convenient

Revenue and productivity goals can mean it is hard for salespeople to set aside the time for sales skills improvement. They value it, want it and need it but they may not have the hours to spend sitting in a room listening to presentations. Plus, the impact of sales training can be diluted as salespeople are conscious of time away from desk. The benefits of online sales training “training at your convenience” goes a long way to solving this dilemma.

Online Sales Training is the Future

Modern sales organizations realize that the same old approach to sales training programs just are not delivering the results for the cost involved. Yes, the traditional instructor-led sales training programs deliver great content, but does it lead to lasting results? The main reason for this is sales training needs to be a continuous learning journey where salespeople can refresh and update themselves as needed.  The benefits of online sales training programs are that it is easy for any salesperson to spend 15 to 30 minutes learning new sales skills themselves.

The Power of Minds Accessible 24/7

With the latest from the minds of leading sales trainers on proven sales techniques, salespeople get 24/7 access to libraries of time saving sales training content and videos that focus on all aspects of the sales process – one lesson at a time.

The benefits of online sales training are becoming increasing compelling to companies and individual salespeople who want to learn more about the profession of sales but due to time, costs or resources find that the traditional methods of sales training have limits.  It may not be the total solution for everyone, but it is one worth considering.