How to run a successful discovery meeting using the right sales deck
A discovery meeting can be the gateway to a long and happy relationship with a new customer.
But only if you do it right.
If you’re so focused on your script and your questions that you ignore your prospect’s real needs, you’ll be pushing them away rather than drawing them in.
The solution? In a word, balance.
Yes, you need a script to follow for your meeting, just like you would on a sales call. And you will need to ask questions in order to discover whether this prospect is a good fit for your product or not.
But how can you use your discovery meetings to build relationships? What’s the best discovery meeting agenda? And how can you use a sales deck successfully in your discovery meeting?
Keep reading to find our best tips for a truly productive discovery meeting.
The ideal discovery meeting agenda
All meetings should have structure, but having a clear agenda for a discovery meeting is even more important.
Because this prospect agreed to give you 15 or 30 minutes of their valuable time. They need to see what you’re offering and whether or not it’s the right fit for them.
Productive discovery meetings do not happen by chance. They are the product of good preparation and a clear agenda that can be followed.
So, what should a discovery meeting agenda look like?
Here’s an example of an agenda that works:
- Build common ground
- Discuss common industry pain points
- Dig into the questions
- Present your offering
- Set clear next steps
Why does this setup work? Let’s take it step-by-step:
Build common ground
But wait, didn’t we just say that we don’t want to waste the prospect’s time? After all, discovery meetings are short and there’s a lot of ground to cover here.
True, but hear me out on this.
Think of your discovery meeting like the first date with your prospect. It’s the beginning of a relationship, it’s probably a little awkward, and someone has to break the ice.
Taking just 2 or 3 minutes at the beginning of your meeting to get to know the person you’re selling to tells them that you’re not just there for the bottom line: You’re there to develop a relationship that’s built to last.
Not only that, but when you have a clearer understanding of this person and their life, you’ll be in a better position to build your sales pitch around what really matters to them individually. Then, whether they’re a decision maker, a stakeholder, or an internal champion of your product, they’ll be more likely to be on your side at the end of the sales cycle.
Discuss common industry pain points
This section of the call helps develop a conversation around this prospect’s needs and challenges.
Instead of diving directly into your questions, start with a discussion about the pain points you’ve seen with other prospects and customers in this industry. Opening the conversation like this accomplishes at least 4 things:
- Allows you to transition smoothly into the business side of the conversation without bursting in with questions
- Shows the prospect you get their situation and their industry
- Gives you insight into their needs and wants
- Teases some use cases of your product
Use insights gathered from conversations with other prospects and your own research on this prospect to discuss the state of their industry and the problems they’re currently facing. Guide this conversation with the right questions that lead them to your solution.
After this brief introduction, it’s time to dig in the main part of this meeting:
Dig into the questions
Ah yes, sales questions. We’ll dig more into the specific questions you can ask below, but remember that the purpose of these questions is not simply to make it through ‘the list’.
Because seriously, people hate that.
Don’t focus so much on the questions you’re asking that you forget to listen to their answers. If this part of the call sounds too scripted, you’ll lose the interest of your prospect.
Instead, develop this as a well-guided conversation. As you ask questions, respond with more than just “Uhuh”. Engage with the prospect as you ask questions, and they’ll stay engaged in the call.
Present your offering
Once you’ve asked your questions, it’s time to show them what you’ve got.
Since they already agreed to meet with you, they probably have a general idea of what your product does. This sales presentation isn’t meant to give them all the finite details of what your product does. The goal here is to sell them just enough to book the next meeting or product demo.
Set clear next steps
The last step in your discovery meeting agenda should be setting up the next steps. Never leave a meeting with being 100% certain when you’ll talk to this prospect again.
As you talk about next steps, make sure to sell the value of the next meeting or demo, rather than just schedule it. Help them understand how this next step will benefit them, and they’ll be more likely to show up.
Also, before you close, make sure to ask who else should be in the next meeting or demo. Then, either get them to check the schedule on the call or send your Calendly link so that the meeting fits both this prospect and the other stakeholders’ schedules.
You don't even need to pick up the phone and dial — just press one button and you’re already on the line. The call is automatically synced inside your lead.
- Jovana Trifunovic, Sales Manager, Case3D
Discovery meeting questions: What you should ask and why
So, what exactly should you be asking on a discovery call? How can you guide the conversation towards a sale?
Here are some of the main questions you should ask on a discovery call:
Discover the ‘why’
As sales development consultant Lisa Schnare said in an interview, your prospect isn’t giving every SDR that reaches out to them 15 minutes of their time. They agreed to your discovery meeting for a reason.
When you discovery their ‘why’ right from the beginning of the call, it can seriously alter the direction of your sales pitch going forward.
Most likely, your product has multiple use cases. When you know from the get-go which use case applies to this prospect’s needs, you can create a sales pitch that fits their business and shows them you really understand them.
Here’s how to discovery the why:
- What compelled you to take my call today?
- What was it about my message that made you want to book this discovery meeting?
- What convinced you to fill out that form on our website?
- Was there something in particular that attracted you to our product or service?
- Why did you agree to talk today?
These questions can also help you discover urgency and timing. Especially if this is an outbound lead you’ve been trying to book for a while, what made them decide to talk with you now? Has something changed in their business or team that implies a more urgent need for your solution?
Customer profile match questions
The main part of your discovery call is the ensure this prospect fits your ideal customer profile.
After all, if they’re not a good fit for your product, you need to know that now.
Also, if your sales team uses multiple customer profiles, these questions can help you fit the prospect into the profile that best describes their situation and needs, which will help smooth out the sales process later on.
Here are some customer profile match questions you can ask:
- How many people are there in your company (or on a specific team)?
- Who is your main customer base?
- What are your company’s goals for this quarter/year?
- What are your team’s goals?
- How have recent industry trends and world events affected your business/team?
- Which problems are you hoping our product will solve?
- What objectives do you hope our product will help you achieve?
- How are you currently trying to achieve these goals?
- What do you like or dislike about your company’s current approach?
- What other products are you evaluating?
- At what price would you consider a [type of product] to be so expensive that you would not consider buying it?
- At what price would you consider a [type of product] to be so cheap that you doubt the quality of it?
- Who else is involved in these kinds of purchase decisions?
Of course, these questions will need to be adapted to your own customer profiles and the information you need to decide if the prospect is a good fit.
Questions to help you dig deeper
While asking surface questions like the ones above is important, you’ll also want to sprinkle a few questions into the conversation that help you see what’s going on beneath surface.
These questions are normally open-ended, and invite the prospect to spend some time giving more details about their situation.
Most of the time, these question would start like this:
- Walk me through how your team…
- What does your typical process for [accomplishing task] look like?
- Tell me more about…
These questions signal the prospect you want a long response, and give them the freedom to really open up about what’s going on in their world.
According to research by Gong, long customer answers have a direct impact on success rates in discovery calls:
So, the more you get your prospects to talk during this call, the better!
How to use a sales deck in your discovery meeting
Sales decks can be either highly valuable or very boring. There really is no in-between.
To make sure your discovery meeting sales deck keeps the prospect engaged, make sure to follow these best practices:
Keep it short and concise
The prospect agreed to a certain amount of time with you. It’s your job to respect that timeframe.
By this point in the meeting, you don’t want your prospect to be checking their watch and worrying about making it to their next meeting. To keep them focused, you must keep your discovery call deck short and to-the-point.
Make your points concise, give them the information they need, and move on. Don’t waste time on listing features: Focus on the clear benefits to this customer.
Tell a relatable story
Your prospects may be the main characters of their story, but your product should be the hero.
Using a narrative is a proven tactic to engage your audience and keep them interested in what you’re saying. More than that, using a story that’s relatable helps show the prospect that you get them.
Here’s what that could look like:
This story speaks the prospect’s language, defines their challenges, and sympathises with them. That’s the kind of narrative that will draw prospects into your pitch.
Take your prospects on a journey of self-discovery
Discovery is a two-way street: As you discovery whether this prospect is a good fit for your business, they need to discover whether your product is what they’re looking for.
The best way to do this? Ask more questions.
So, right now you’re probably thinking, “Um, didn’t we just ask a crap-ton of questions before? Who wants more questions now?”
It’s no secret that asking questions keeps your prospect involved in the conversation. Especially in a discovery call, you don’t want to make the mistake of diving into a monologue.
By saving some of your deeper questions for during your presentation, you allow the process of discovery to last the whole meeting, and keep your prospect engaged while you present.
This really works, too: Check out what research from our friends at Gong showed about the distribution of questions through the discovery call:
Top performers spread their discovery questions throughout the call, while average salespeople dump all their questions right at the beginning.
As you unravel your narrative, use questions to guide the prospect through a journey of self-discovery. That way, they’re really thinking about their challenges and needs as you present them with a clear solution.
Tease your product
Once again, this is not a product demo or a presentation of all the features of your product.
Your prospects don’t need ot know everything about your product in this discovery meeting. They just need to know enough to keep them moving forward in the deal.
This discovery meeting sales deck is just a taste of what’s to come. So focus on giving a brief overview of the benefits they can expect from using your solution.
What if it’s a bad fit?
After asking your questions, getting to know the prospect, and presenting your offering, what if you realize this prospect isn’t a good fit for your product?
It can be tempting to keep trying to sell, especially if the prospect seems really interested. But selling to the wrong customers can do serious damage to your company. Bad-fit customers are much more likely to churn, which is a waste of time for everyone involved. But more than that, selling to non-ideal customers can hurt the reputation of your brand.
So don’t be afraid to say turn away this prospect if you’re seeing clear warning signs of a bad fit. Tell them plainly why you think your product isn’t right for their needs, and offer some suggestions that may be a better fit.
While you may be turning away business now, you never know where this person will end up and whether the next company they work at will be a better fit for your product. By being clear and honest at this point, you build trust and leave the door open for future opportunities.
Are you ready to nail your next discovery meeting?
You will be if you prepare a successful discovery meeting agenda, ask the right questions, and use a sales deck that tells a story and helps prospect discover how much they need your product.
Want to take your discovery meetings to the next level? Download our free resource, Pitch: High Performing Sales Deck Templates.
Here, you’ll find 6 beautifully designed and fully customizable templates that you can take and adapt for your team. You’ll also see a live deck teardown, a fillable survey to help you organize your pitch, and a cheat sheet to help you stay on track.
Download for free and get ready to nail your next discovery meeting!