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Discovery questions are a great tool used by many sales professionals to help ensure they provide the potential customer with the best solution to their most pressing problem, making a deal more likely.

While these questions may be more formerly called “discovery questions” in business — especially marketing and sales, chances are you’ve encountered these questions in everyday life as well. Have you ever been to a networking event and seen someone approach another person and just start pitching them? It’s super awkward, unprofessional and usually not very effective.

Discovery questions help to prevent this awkward situation from happening. They will ultimately save you from pitching someone that just isn’t interested, and you may make a new friend.

What are Discovery Questions

Discover questions are questions aimed at finding out what your potential client or customer is looking to achieve. The more you know about your potential client or customer, the better solution you can put together for them.

For example, when you walk into a store, they don’t usually start telling you about one of their many products. They usually start with asking how you are and follow it up with, “are you looking for anything particular?” They take the time to show you the different options available that you are looking for, and they will continue to ask questions to help you pick out the best item for yourself. This business and this person have just used “discovery questions” to ensure a sale.

How Discovery Questions Can Save You Time

Discovery questions can save you time in two ways.

First, by approaching any potential customer or client with discovery questions, you can quickly learn if you might be able to help them. If the work you do doesn’t help them, you won’t waste time pitching them. You can simply say thank you; it was great to meet you and move on.

Second, asking discovery questions can save you time by narrowing down which of your products or services to pitch. Ultimately, every business is providing several solutions to one or more problems. By clearly understanding the challenge, problem or issue your potential client or customer is facing, you can pitch the best of your products, instead of boring them with everything you offer.

By not pitching everything, you can keep your potential new client’s attention. Since everything you are presenting them with is relevant to their problem, they are going to stay engaged. The more custom your pitch, the easier it is for clients to say, “yes.”

How to Use Discovery Questions to Effectively Grow Your Business

You can use discovery questions to make approaching potential clients at those awkward networking events easier. When you go into the event with the mindset of I wonder if and how I could help this person or company you avoid pitching right away.

You wouldn’t approach that person and just start talking about yourself or your business. You’d ask them about themselves and their business. You might ask them about any upcoming projects or if they have any struggles or problems.

What is one thing they wish was easier or their short term or long term goals?

The best client pitches involve the potential client talking the most. Not you. By knowing the potential client and their struggles, it helps you to determine if you can provide a solution. It also helps you to determine if you would be a good fit in general.

Not every potential client is going to be a good fit. By getting to know about the person and the business it helps to start off your relationship with them on the right foot.

Not to mention everyone likes to talk about their business, so by being the person to ask them about their business and what they are interested in, and trying to get to know them — before pitching anything — is going to help endear you to them. It is easier to get business if they like you in the first place.

Discovery questions are an excellent way, not only help you find the best clients, but they also make it possible for you to engage them as a client.

These first questions are the beginning steps in the sales process, and once you understand this business’ needs and budget, you can pitch your services and prices and start finalizing details to move forward to work together.

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Liz is a writer for hire, specializing in personal finance, entrepreneurship, and legal issues. She shares her own journey to debt freedom and helps graduates dealing with above average student loan debt on her site, Less Debt More Wine. She currently resides in NC after calling Massachusetts home for nearly a decade.

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