Strengthen Your Sales Process: Your Discovery Call

man talking on the phone

Recently a dear friend and colleague approached me looking for some sales advice. She was concerned about a potential client’s reaction – or lack of reaction – to a proposal she’d sent. She believed it was exactly what the potential client wanted, and needed. So why hadn’t an enthusiastic “yes” been sent in reply?

This is a scenario most of us have experienced. We have a great conversation with a prospect; we believe we listen carefully to their challenge. We deliver a proposal that perfectly captures how we will help them solve this challenge and then … silence. Yikes!

While there can be a myriad of reasons for silence occurring after we hit ‘send’, it’s important that we have the utmost confidence in our proposals. And the first step to cultivating this confidence is how we structure our discovery calls.

How can your discovery calls support your confidence in your proposals? What are the best ways to structure these calls?

There are two words to keep in mind when you craft your discovery call process:

  1. Discovery: It comes to us from 14th century Old French and means reveal, expose, uncover.
  2. Curious: Also from 14th century Old French and means eager to know, desirous of seeing, inquisitive. Curious expresses the desire to know and the effort to find out by inquiry.

A discovery call isn’t an ordinary conversation. It’s a discussion that allows a prospect to share every detail and nuance of the challenge they hope you can help them solve. The more they share with you, the more accurate your proposal. You can strengthen your discovery calls when you:

  • Offer to sign a non-disclosure agreement prior to the call. Confidentiality can prevent a prospect from sharing important details. Being sensitive and proactive in this area creates instant trust and credibility … and often results in the prospect deciding the document isn’t necessary.
  • Set aside enough time. While everyone is overwhelmed and we want to be respectful of a prospect’s time, rushing through a discovery call will result in a shoddy proposal. Request an hour for the call. Or, if you book 30 minutes and know you need more information, book a second call before creating your proposal.
  • Create and follow a discovery call template. This is vital. A template is a map. It allows you to make sure you don’t miss any of the absolutely necessary steps when facilitating a discovery call. For example, early in my career as The Phone Lady, I would get so interested and enthusiastic during a discovery call, I’d often hang up and realize I didn’t know the location of a conference, or how many would attend, or even what I’d get paid. Reading The Checklist Manifesto – How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande gave me a deep understanding of the true value of this template. It will boost your confidence in both your discovery calls and your proposals.

To truly reveal and expose a prospect’s challenge – and how you can solve it – you must bring your highest level of curiosity to your discovery calls. These activities will help you get there:

  • Research the prospect’s company … but not too much! What I mean is, when you are at their website learning more about what they do and you ask yourself the question, “Oh, I wonder how they do that?”, don’t search for the answer. Instead, include that question as part of your discovery call. When you answer all of your outstanding questions prior to a discovery call, you not only dampen your curiosity, you also amplify your assumptions.
  • Ignite your best listening skills. Pick up a pen and have a blank sheet of paper in front of you to quickly jot down notes. Your listening becomes shoddy the moment you start thinking about what you want to say next. Instead, scribble quickly on the paper and focus on what your prospect is sharing with you. Do not look at your email, your text messages or any other item on your desk. Stay 100% focused on what is being shared with you.
  • Ask open-ended questions – lots of them. These are questions that arise from your listening, that are not part of your discovery call template. These questions display – like a peacock fanning out its tail feathers – your deep desire to understand, help and work with a prospect. They are the ultimate sign of respect and an essential building block of trust.

The discovery call is such an important part of our sales process; it deserves a lot of our attention.


Closing a sale is the natural outcome of inspiring great conversations and listening intently to our potential customers.

This natural approach still involves a process – a plan that moves potential customers through a journey of discovery with you. So ... what's your process? And am I the right sales coach for you? Let's find out.

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