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3 Sales Discovery Questions That You Need to Stop Asking

Written By @RajenSanghvi

· DISCOVERY,Qualification,Best Practices

Good salespeople know how to ask effective open-ended questions, but there is a limit here. Certain questions do nothing to help your client's think and show a complete lack of preparation. The worst part of this is the fact it reinforces bad sales stereotypes; you're just a gatekeeper, provide no value and are perfectly comfortable with wasting your client's time. If you're reading this, I'm assuming you're a modern seller that really cares about her client's time and providing value. But just in case, here are my top 3 cringeworthy discovery questions for you to avoid at all costs:

1. What's keeping you up at night?

What your client is thinking when she hears this question:

Is he for real? My pending divorce keeps me up at night. I really wish I didn't take this meeting.

Sleepless night, qualification, discovery

Image Source: Angry Words by Theodore1967 via Attribution Engine. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND.​

There is zero context to this question. Your client doesn't even know what you're asking or how to begin answering this question. I get that you want to find that "pain" that makes your product a no-brainer purchase, but there's no silver bullet here; you need to help your client uncover the pain. Quite often, while your client may know the symptoms of their issues, they probably don't even know exactly what's wrong. A good salesperson with a more focused set of questions will help them figure this out through effective discovery.

2. Can you tell me about your business?

What your client is thinking when he hears this question:

I can, but I shouldn't have to tell you about my business. Do some damn research and stop wasting my *Z!$@&ing time.

time wasted, hourglass, qualification, discovery

Image Source: Take Your Time #2 by Flod via Attribution Engine. Licensed under CC BY-NC-SA.

This question died when the internet went mainstream. Like the clients you're selling to, I'm going to assume that if you're in B2B sales today, you know how to use the internet. As a result, if you don't know about your client's business and are asking this question, you're just lazy and haven't looked up their company website. No buyer has time for a salesperson that hasn't done their research. Either they'll be nice and tell you up front, or they'll string you along, hammer you on price and use you to buy your competitors product.

3. What's a good next step?

What your client is thinking when he hears this question:

Hmm...shouldn't you be able to tell me the best practice here? Forget this, I'd rather work with your competitor who actually knows what they're doing.

Image Source: Lost by Nick Harris1 via Attribution Engine. Licensed under CC BY-ND.

A modern salesperson acts as a guide in helping today's buyer through their purchasing journey. And by definition, a guide is" a person who advises or shows the way to others." As a result, if you don't already have a clear plan on what to do next, you're not being a guide. In fact, you're actually more like a lost cat and therefore your value diminishes. Stop giving your competition layups! Also, before you rush to a scripted next step, remember that this isn't about pushing your client to the next step of your sales process either. It's about giving them a clear sense of what to do next that will actually help them achieve their overall goal. While this could mean scheduling a demo, this could mean asking them to go find out more information about a specific business process to confirm there's actually a good fit.

If you found this useful or have any other cringeworthy discovery questions of your own, please let me know! You can leave me a comment below or email me at Thanks

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