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Discovery meeting

Discovery meeting: How to do it successfully? [Free template]

Key Takeaways
  • A discovery meeting includes members of a business or sales team and a potential client to discuss their struggles and possible solutions.
  • A structured discovery session with a clear agenda ensures all crucial areas are covered.
  • With a successful discovery session, you can better understand the prospect's pain points and project requirements.

Imagine stepping onto the stage, the spotlight hits, and the audience waits with bated breath. This is your moment—not just to perform, but to engage.

In the world of sales, the discovery meeting is your opening act, the vital touchpoint where opportunities are uncovered and relationships are forged.

As a sales professional, mastering the discovery session isn’t just a skill; it’s an art form that can set the stage for enduring success.

Our guide will help you conduct effective discovery meetings, starting from setting a discovery session agenda to conducting follow-ups strategically.

Furthermore, we’ll share our tried and tested discovery session template with you, offering deeper insights to understand your potential clients better.

So, let’s dive deep in.

What is a discovery meeting? 

A discovery meeting, at its core, is a strategic conversation that aims to uncover a potential client’s needs, challenges, and goals. This meeting is not a separate step; rather, it is a crucial part of the sales qualification process.  

It depends solely on the skills of a sales representative to qualify the marketing qualified leads (MQLs) as an opportunity for sales during the discovery session.

During the initial meeting, sales professionals dig deep, ask relevant sales-qualifying questions, and understand the scope of what a prospect is seeking. 

This initial discovery session presents a prime opportunity to engage in active listening, allowing you to collect insights about the prospect’s intent to buy. 

Moreover, the information shared by the prospect during this discovery meeting is essential in developing a customized, compelling proposal that aligns with their specific story. 

Here is what a productive sales discovery meeting looks like: 

Sales discovery meeting

There can be multiple potential client discovery meetings depending on the level of discussion required to understand your prospect’s needs and desires.

These sessions are truly the foundational steps in building a successful business relationship.

Role of a discovery meeting in the sales qualification process

The discovery meeting is a crucial step in converting an MQL into a sales opportunity. 

An MQL, or Marketing Qualified Lead, represents a potential customer in search of a solution but is not necessarily ready to make a purchase yet.

Through the sales discovery process, reps qualify these MQLs as SQL or DQL to further interact accordingly. 

Here’s something insightful: 

  • MQLs (Marketing qualified leads) – Leads identified by marketing teams based on engagement and genuine interest, indicating preliminary potential. 
  • SQLs (Sales qualified leads) – Leads that demonstrate clear interest and potential to purchase. They are considered ripe for a more direct and personalized sales approach. 
  • DQLs (Disqualified leads) – Leads that, upon evaluation, do not meet the necessary criteria for progression in the sales process are often due to a lack of budget, authority, or genuine need. These factors make them unsuitable for current sales efforts. 

While SQLs and DQLs are integral to the lead qualification process, there’s another critical player: the PQL (Product qualified lead). To learn more about how it differs from MQLs and SQLs, check out our interesting blog on MQL vs SQL vs PQL.

Let’s talk about the journey of sales qualification of MQL to an opportunity. This is where the magic of the ‘discovery meeting’ comes into play. 

1. It all starts with a call:  

When your marketing folks hand you a lead, it’s called an MQL. 

Think of it as a hint that someone might be interested in what you’re offering. Your first task? 

Pick up the call and have a chat with them. This is your chance to set up something bigger – the discovery meeting. 

2. Why does the discovery meeting matter? 

Okay, so you’ve got them interested in a meeting. This is where you turn on your detective mode. 

It’s your golden opportunity to dive into what the lead wants and why they’re considering your product or service. 

You want to figure out if this MQL could become an opportunity (SQL or disqualified lead) – someone ready and worthy of moving forward in your sales process. 

  • Asking the right questions:  

During the discovery meeting, your goal is to ask questions that reveal more about your lead. 

A. What do they need? 

B. What goals are they trying to achieve? 

C. What made them look at your product in the first place? 

Your job is to listen, understand, and assess. 

  • Use a framework, make it easier:  

Sales qualification frameworks are helpful at this stage, offering structured approaches to gauge a prospect’s readiness and suitability for your product or service effectively. 

3. Necessary follow-up actions: 

After qualifying the MQLs, sales reps tailor their approach to match the specific kind of lead. 

For SQLs, reps take a more personalized approach, which includes detailed presentations, proposals, or negotiations. 

Disqualified leads are either nurtured for potential future opportunities or removed from the active sales pipeline to focus resources on more promising leads. 

The discovery meeting is your first real step in discovering crucial information about the lead to decide whether they’re your potential client. 

Next, we will explore the steps to prepare for a successful sales discovery session. So, let’s dive deep in. 

How to prepare for successful discovery meetings – 7 Successful steps!

It’s not just about showing up to a discovery session; it’s about arriving prepared.  According to a survey, the time spent preparing for discovery meetings ranged from 30 minutes to two days, based on the client’s needs and the agent’s experience.

A well-thought-out strategy, in-depth knowledge, and thorough preparation are key to capturing the attention of even the toughest lead. 

Here is the step-by-step process to prepare for a successful discovery meeting: 

Process to prepare for a successful discovery meeting

1. Research thoroughly about your prospects and their business

Begin by examining the potential client’s website, studying their press releases, and thoroughly analyzing industry reports.

Gain a clear understanding of their product lines, services, and customer base. It’s crucial to be aware of the common challenges their sector is facing, the prominent players, and the emerging trends.

Remember, knowledge is power, especially in a discovery meeting. It forms the foundation for understanding your prospect’s needs more deeply and establishing your credibility. 

2. Define your clear objectives for the discovery session

The common objectives of a discovery meeting could be: 

  • Understanding the prospect’s needs 
  • Identifying their pain points 
  • Assessing their readiness to buy 
  • Establishing a rapport among the prospective client  

A clear objective will help you plan discovery sessions, set agendas, and guide conversations productively. 

It also ensures that every aspect of the meeting aligns with your business goals, enabling more meaningful and insightful interactions with your prospects. 

3. Prepare open-ended qualifying questions to engage

Craft questions that require thoughtful responses. Avoid yes or no questions. Instead, aim for questions that encourage the prospect to speak at length about their needs and experiences.

Questions like, “Can you tell me about a time when…” or “What has been your approach to…” open up the floor for in-depth responses and can reveal more than the answers to direct questions.

4. Get the right people involved in the discovery meeting

Ensure that each participant from your team has a clear purpose.

Someone should lead the meeting, another might take detailed notes, and others may be there to answer specific technical or service-related questions.

So, like a well-rehearsed orchestra, every member should know when it’s their cue to contribute, ensuring a harmonious performance.

5. Plan to create a comfortable environment for the discovery meeting

A comfortable prospect is more likely to engage or participate in the discovery session. 

If you are meeting the prospect in person, a quiet room with comfortable seating sets the stage.

For virtual meetings, ensure a stable internet connection, good lighting, and clear sound.

6. Craft your discovery meeting agenda

The agenda refers to the structured plan or outline of topics to be discussed during the discovery session. 

It includes the specific points of discussion, questions to ask, and areas to explore with the prospect. 

The agenda ensures the meeting stays on track and covers all necessary areas to meet the objectives. 

7. Prepare thoroughly to clarify all possible doubts of your prospects

Potential customers prefer to engage with someone who not only understands their problems but can also clearly explain solutions. 

Prepare simple explanations or analogies that can help demystify complex ideas/doubts of your prospects. 

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Best discovery meeting questions that you must include in your next session 

Crafting the right questions for a discovery call and meeting can turn a simple conversation into a goldmine of insights. 

In fact, a study revealed that high-performing individuals in sales ask about 40% more questions during discovery conversations compared to others. This approach leads to a deeper understanding of the client’s needs and challenges.

Here is an example of a discovery question to discover about a potential client’s business during their first meeting.

“Can you guide me through your current processes related to [specific area relevant to your solution]?” 

This question sets the stage for the lead to give you a detailed overview of their operations and where they might need help. 

You can then pitch your product as a solution to address their problem. 

Another common question sales reps often ask clients how they measure success, e.g., “What criteria will you use to evaluate potential solutions?” The answer provides a checklist to include in your proposal.

Do you want to know more discovery session questions like these? Head to the sales discovery questions to learn more. 

Discovery meeting template for a winning session

Creating a discovery meeting template is a great way to standardize the discovery process across your team and ensure that each meeting is productive and thorough. 

The below comprises both – the session and discovery meeting agenda template.

Meeting title: [Meeting with prospect’s name/company name]

Date and time: [insert date and time]

Location: [insert location or video call link]

Duration: [insert expected duration of the meeting]

Participants:

  • [Name], [Title], [Role in meeting]  
  • [Name], [Title], [Role in meeting]  
  • [Add more participants as required]

Objective:  

To gain a comprehensive understanding of [Prospect’s name/Company name]’s business needs, challenges, and goals to determine how our solutions can add value.  

Pre-meeting preparation:  

  • Research prospect background, industry trends, and potential pain points.  
  • Review any previous communications or touchpoints with the prospect.  
  • Prepare a list of tailored questions based on the research.  
  • Send an agenda to the prospect for confirmation or input.  

Agenda:  

1. Introduction [time allotted: 5 mins] 

  • Welcome and introductions 
  • Brief overview of the meeting’s purpose and structure  

2. Prospect’s business overview [time allotted: 10 mins]  

  • Prospect to share about their company, mission, and key initiatives 
  • Discuss the potential client’s market, competitors, and industry trends  

3. Current state assessment [time allotted: 15 mins]  

  • Understand the potential client’s current processes, challenges, and pain points  
  • Explore how current challenges affect the potential client’s goals and operations  

4. Solution exploration [time allotted: 10 mins]  

  • Discuss potential solutions and approaches  
  • Talk about success stories and case studies relevant to the potential client’s industry  

5. Collaborative discussion [time allotted: 15 mins] 

  • Open the floor to any questions the prospect may have  
  • Discuss and align on potential strategies  

6. Next steps and action items [time allotted: 5 mins]  

  • Outline the next steps post-discovery meeting  
  • Set timelines and responsibilities  

7. Wrap-up [time allotted: 5 mins]  

  • Summarize key points and understandings from the meeting and express appreciation for the prospect’s time and insights  
  • Confirm follow-up meeting or communication  

Post-meeting action items:  

[list action items, who is responsible, and deadlines] 

Notes section: 

[space for any additional notes or comments during the meeting]  

Follow-up plan:  

Detail the follow-up plan, including who will reach out, through what channel, and when the follow-up will occur. 

Tip – You can easily customize the discovery session template to fit each of your meeting’s unique contexts. 

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10 Proven tips for leading a productive discovery meeting

These tips will help you avoid common mistakes during discovery sessions, ensuring an impressive first session and thus building a strong foundation for a successful sales process.

Tips for leading a productive discovery meeting

Let’s dive deep in: 

1. Start with a personal touch 

Like a first date, use the opening minutes of the discovery session to establish rapport. Try to show interest in the prospect behind the business to lay the groundwork for a meaningful conversation. 

Your research on the prospects will help you ask interesting questions about their business, demonstrating your expertise and concern for their needs. 

2. Ease into industry talk 

Begin with a discussion on common industry challenges. This not only demonstrates your understanding of their sector but also paves the way for how your services can offer solutions.

3. Ask open-ended questions 

Use open-ended questions to delve into the prospect’s specific needs.  

Tailor your inquiries to uncover their unique challenges, ensuring you build trust and establish yourself as a thoughtful listener. 

4. Engage with active listening during your discovery sessions

A study reveals that active listening can lead to an 8% improvement in sales performance. So, embrace active listening – be present, give mutual respect, and respond thoughtfully.

This encourages the prospect to share their biggest challenge, allowing you to tailor the best solution.  

5. Read the room  

Be attentive to the prospect’s non-verbal cues and adjust your approach to find common ground. This can transform the dynamic of the session, especially when other prospects might not take this extra step.  

6. Concise value proposition  

Can you concisely express your value that meets your prospect’s need? Ensure that your potential customers see the alignment between your offerings and their needs, leaving the meeting on a positive note.  

7. Welcome and address objections 

View objections as opportunities for deeper engagement. Tackle them confidently, showing that you value their concerns and are prepared with clear, compelling responses. 

8. Set clear next steps 

End your session with everyone knowing the exact next steps—whether that’s scheduling a product demo, a follow-up call, or sending over a free template for their review.  

9. Encourage dialogue  

Foster a two-way conversation. A successful discovery meeting is one where the prospect feels engaged and heard.  

10. Document the discussion  

Documenting your conversation helps you capture the nuances of the prospect’s problems and the important details of their requirements, ensuring you’re in a better position for the next engagement.  

By integrating these tips into your discovery meeting strategy, you can transform an ordinary sales interaction into an opportunity for meaningful engagement and long-term potential client relationships. 

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Post-discovery meeting activities to boost sales opportunities 

Following up after a discovery meeting is not just a courteous gesture—it’s a strategic step that keeps the momentum going and can significantly impact the progression of your sales process.   

Here is the approach to follow-up after a quality discovery meeting: 

1. Send a thank you note 

Promptness is crucial, so make sure to send a thank-you email expressing appreciation for the prospect’s valuable time and information shared within 24 hours of the meeting. 

Furthermore, this reaffirms your interest in the relationship. 

2. Debrief with your team  

After the meeting, debrief with your team to discuss successes, areas for improvement, and key prospect takeaways. 

Make sure to consolidate any notes, observations, and commitments made during the meeting. 

3. Address any outstanding questions 

Suppose there were questions from the prospect that you couldn’t answer on the spot; address them in your follow-up email. Provide clear and thorough answers. 

If further research is needed, acknowledge the question and provide a project timeline for when you can deliver the information. 

4. Outline the next steps in your follow-ups 

If another meeting is needed, suggest possible times and dates. If you promised to send additional information or a proposal, state when they can expect to receive it. 

This clarity helps maintain momentum and keeps both parties aligned on the process. 

Insightful read: Best Practices for Follow-Up Emails After Sales Meetings

5. Include relevant documentation  

Attach any relevant documents that were promised during the meeting, such as case studies, product information, or a roadmap for implementation. 

Ensure these documents are easy to read and professional as they represent your brand. 

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Conclusion 

A discovery meeting is more than just a conversation. It’s the bridge between understanding a prospect’s needs and providing tailored solutions. 

By ensuring you are well-prepared, asking the right discovery questions, and diligently following up, you’re setting the stage for a fruitful business relationship.

In addition, involving your project team in meeting planning, defining the project scope, and focusing on the desired outcome ensures productive and successful discovery meetings.

Invest in technology like CRM and automation, as it can help you conduct timely follow-ups, improve sales interactions, automate sales, and more.

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Frequently asked questions 

What is a discovery session?

A discovery session, often termed a discovery meeting, is an initial conversation between a professional (often in sales, consulting, or project management) and a potential client. The primary goal is to understand the prospect’s needs, challenges, goals, and expectations.

What are the goals of a discovery meeting?

The main objectives of a discovery meeting include:

  • Gaining a deep understanding of the prospect’s pain points and requirements. 
  • Setting clear expectations for both parties involved. 
  • Establishing rapport and building a foundation for a potentially long-term business relationship. 
  • Identifying opportunities for collaboration or offering solutions. 
What is the structure of a discovery meeting?

A typical structure of a discovery session involves:

  • Introduction: Brief introductions of attendees. 
  • Potential client background: Understanding the prospect’s business, market, challenges, and history. 
  • Objectives: Clarifying the goals of the meeting. 
  • Q&A session: Asking pertinent questions to delve deeper into the potential client’s needs. 
  • Presentation (optional): Showcasing initial solutions, products, or services that might be of interest. 
  • Next steps: Discuss potential follow-ups and pave the path for future subsequent meetings. 
What would you include on the agenda for the discovery meeting?

The agenda for a discovery meeting should be structured yet flexible. Key items might include:

  • Welcome and introductions. 
  • A brief overview of the purpose of the meeting. 
  • Dedicated time for the lead to share their background, needs, and challenges. 
  • Q&A session to explore or dig deeper into specific areas. 
  • An overview of potential solutions or offers (if applicable). 
  • Discussion of the next steps or follow-ups. 
  • Concluding remarks. 
How does a discovery session differ from a regular sales meeting?

A discovery session primarily focuses on understanding the potential client’s needs and challenges. The emphasis is on listening, asking questions, and gathering information.

A regular sales meeting, on the other hand, often involves pitching a product or service, negotiating terms, or closing a deal.

Sonali Negi

Sonali is a writer born out of her utmost passion for writing. She is working with a passionate team of content creators at Salesmate. She enjoys learning about new ideas in marketing and sales. She is an optimistic girl and endeavors to bring the best out of every situation. In her free time, she loves to introspect and observe people.

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