Discovery Call Checklist

I’ve seen too many talented sales professionals undertake discovery calls armed with confidence but lacking a mechanism to improve over time. It’s like trying to navigate in the dark. Our Discovery Call Checklist can be the light that guides you to improve rapidly against what matters most in these crucial conversations – uncovering, understanding, and aligning with your client’s deepest needs. So… how do you go about it?

Understanding the Discovery Call Checklist

At Portage, we don’t believe in leaving things to chance, especially when understanding and connecting with potential clients. This discovery call checklist is a culmination of years of experience, insights from the field, and continuous refinement. But here’s where it gets even better – our checklist is designed to help you score yourself objectively. It’s like having a coach by your side, giving you a clear-eyed view of what you’re doing right and where you need to sharpen your skills. And trust me, this kind of self-awareness is invaluable. It’s the difference between a salesperson and a sales champion.

It’s one thing to download a checklist and it’s another to make it a part of your sales routine. That’s why we encourage you to use this checklist as a consistent tool for self-evaluation after your discovery calls. The more you use it, the more self-aware you become, and soon enough, you’ll find your discovery calls reaching new levels of success.

How to Use the Checklist Effectively

Now, let’s talk practice. When you’ve completed a discovery call, the checklist is a framework to help you identify strengths + opportunity areas. I’ve always believed that the path to mastery is paved with honest self-assessment. And this is precisely where our checklist shines.

After each call, take a moment to reflect. Give yourself a score for each section of the checklist – preparation, rapport-building, insightful questioning, solution tailoring, and establishing next steps. Use our scale: Good (1-5), Better (6-8), and Best (9-10). What do you do after scoring yourself? Action. The goal here is continuous improvement, not just hitting a benchmark and calling it a day.

Pinpointing One Area for Improvement

Honesty is key here. It’s easy to skip over the parts we don’t like, but growth happens in the uncomfortable spaces. Look at your checklist scores—what’s in the ‘good’ or ‘better’ column? That’s your map to improvement. Don’t try to fix everything at once; focus on one area for development. Maybe it’s leaving enough time for the next steps or tailoring your solution more precisely.

Once you have your target area for discovery call improvement, use the list below to set a few straightforward, incremental actions to turn it around. Let’s get your calls from good to great.

Download our free Portage Discovery Call Checklist

This isn’t just a list we threw together overnight. It’s the result of years of experience, countless calls, and a whole lot of trial and error. We’ve refined this discovery call checklist to ensure it covers all the bases in this guide, making your discovery calls as effective and impactful as possible.

After each discovery call you complete, take a few minutes to use the checklist to review and score your success. Pay careful attention to the one area you hit out of the park, and the one area that could use some improvement. Avoid taking on too much at once. This way you will make far more progress.

WHAT ONE ASPECT OF YOUR DISCOVERY CALL MOST NEEDS IMPROVEMENT?

1. Preparing a Discovery Call Plan

Without preparation, you risk appearing unprofessional and uninformed. This can lead to missing key opportunities to connect with client needs and can weaken your credibility.

Incremental Actions to Mitigate and Improve:

  • Research Thoroughly: Spend time understanding the client’s business and industry.
  • Set Clear Objectives: Define what success looks like for this call.
  • Draft Targeted Questions: Have a set of open-ended questions ready, tailored to the client’s specific context.

2. Building Rapport

Failing to build rapport can lead to a lack of trust and a disconnect with the client. This may result in a superficial understanding of their needs.

Incremental Actions to Mitigate and Improve:

  • Start with a Personal Touch: Initiate conversations on a lighter note to ease into the call.
  • Listen Actively: Show genuine interest and respond to what they say.
  • Demonstrate Empathy: Acknowledge their challenges and show you understand.

3. Asking Insightful Questions

Surface-level questions lead to surface-level answers. You’ll miss out on understanding the deeper needs and pain points of the client, which are crucial for tailoring your solution.

Incremental Actions to Mitigate and Improve:

  • Ask Deep-Dive Questions: Go beyond the basics to understand their real challenges.
  • Follow the Conversation: Let their responses guide your next questions.
  • Confirm Understanding: Paraphrase their answers to ensure you’re on the same page.

4. Tailoring Your Solution to Client Needs

If your solution doesn’t directly address the client’s specific issues, it may come across as irrelevant. This can lead to lost interest or missed sales opportunities.

Incremental Actions to Mitigate and Improve:

  • Link Solutions to Pain Points: Clearly show how your product/service solves their specific problems.
  • Stay Adaptable: Be ready to modify your pitch based on their feedback.
  • Provide Concrete Examples: Use case studies or examples to illustrate how your solution works in real scenarios.

5. Establishing Clear Next Steps

Without clear next steps, the momentum gained during the call can quickly fizzle out. This may lead to delays in the sales process or even losing the deal.

Incremental Actions to Mitigate and Improve:

  • Summarize Key Points: Reiterate what was discussed to ensure alignment.
  • Define Actionable Steps: Clearly state what will happen next and who is responsible.
  • Agree on Timelines: Set specific dates for the next steps to maintain momentum.

 

Remember, the path to improvement is a marathon, not a sprint. Incremental changes lead to significant growth. Focusing on these improvements will mitigate potential negatives and elevate your overall discovery call game. It’s about making each call count and moving steadily towards closing more deals.

Identifying Your Discovery SuperPower

Now that you understand your improvement opportunity, reflect on what you nailed. When you prepare a robust call plan or build rapport effectively, that’s a win worth noting. Use this as an opportunity to gain equal focus on areas where you can build on existing strengths. That’s what sets you apart in your discovery calls.

  • Take the lead in sharing what works for you. If you’ve got a knack for building rapport or nailing the questioning technique, mentor your teammates. It’s a win-win — you reinforce your own skills and boost the team’s performance.
  • Never stop learning and trying new things. Stay on top of the latest in sales and your industry. Apply new techniques to your strong areas. Remember, there’s always room to be even better.
  • Push your limits. Set goals that challenge you, even in areas where you’re already strong. Keep a close eye on your progress. This is how you move from being great to being exceptional.
  • Get out there and mix it up with peers and leaders in the field. Share your insights and soak up new ones. This isn’t just about building your profile; it’s about opening doors to new ideas and collaborations that can elevate your game.

 

Remember, leveraging your strengths isn’t just about maintaining them but amplifying and evolving them. Stay sharp, stay curious, and keep pushing the envelope. That’s how you stay ahead in this game.

Balancing Development with Maintained Strengths

So, you’ve identified actions to take on your next discovery call. Now what? First, breathe. Realize that awareness is the first step to change. Then, plan to adjust your approach in the next few calls, seeking feedback, or even additional training. Keep building on your strengths while you work on these improvement areas. Focusing solely on improvement areas can inadvertently lead to neglecting your strengths.

Your strengths are your foundation; they set you apart and give you an edge in your field. Maintaining and refining these skills ensures they remain assets rather than become overlooked aspects of your performance. Over time, this balanced approach will lead to well-rounded, effective discovery calls where you meet and exceed expectations.

Conclusion

Remember, the art of the discovery call is a craft that’s honed over time. It’s a blend of skill, intuition, and trial and error. So, whether you’re just starting in sales or looking to refine your skills, I encourage you to download our discovery call checklist and see the difference it can make. Use it, adapt it, and make it your own. 

Here’s to making every call count and the success stories that await us all!

 PETER MEYERS

PETER MEYERS

Peter is an executive advisor, consultant, and facilitator who happily lives and breathes sales strategy and customer experience. With a razor-sharp focus on making sales teams more effective, he combines his creativity, collaborative style, and relentless drive for results. Before Portage, he held VP roles in sales, marketing, and product innovation at LoyaltyOne, Epsilon, The Toronto Region Board of Trade, and Engage People. When he’s not exploring new sales strategies, he’s taking in the great outdoors.

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