The Best Questions To Ask On Sales Discovery and Marketing Kick-Off Calls

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As part of the marketing team, you have been working hard to fill the funnel with leads. You and your teammates have invested time and resources into creating content, attending industry conferences, and identifying key hand-raiser moments along the digital customer journey. 

The effort finally pays off when sales qualification happens. Your marketing team is ready to hand over a lead that is in need of your social media management services to sales, who will work to further qualify the prospect through the sales discovery call. 

Don’t let your guard down quite yet, though. Marketing and sales can be a match made in heaven (or hell if  you’re not careful). Especially when you account for the fact that nearly half of your prospects are not the right match for your product or service [source]. 

This list of sales discovery call questions for prospective clients will help ensure that marketing and sales are aligned from start to finish and that your sales team can identify prospects that are a good fit right from the initial call.

As a bonus, we have included a bonus list of discovery questions for your marketing team that will delight clients from the beginning of your new partnership. Keep these handy for the client kick-off call.

Questions To Ask During a Discovery Call

  • Tell me about your Company? While it is your sales team’s job to thoroughly research all prospects before jumping onto a discovery call, it’s still a best practice to ask prospects about their company. Research is a very impersonal way of obtaining hard facts about a company. You’d be surprised what additional information can be uncovered in a one-on-one conversation. 
  • What is your role and what does a typical day in your shoes look like? This is persona development in its infancy. To have empathy for prospects and to understand their pain points, you first have to obtain an accurate portrayal of what their day-to-day looks like. For example, are they in meetings every morning until 11 a.m. yet also expected to provide a detailed rundown on key social media metrics before lunchtime? Ouch! Or maybe they work in a department of 30 people and just need help getting everything centralized and everyone on the same page.
  • What are the key metrics you and your team are responsible for? What KPIs is your prospect responsible for? Chances are high that these metrics go beyond the traditional social media metrics of engagement, reach, leads, and customers. But you won’t know until you ask. 
  • Tell me about your goals for the next 30, 60 and 90 days?  Ah… perhaps one of our most favorite questions. By getting super specific, you force your prospect to shift into a more solution-focused mindset. This is a great question for helping participants outline priorities. 
  • What problem are you trying to solve?  This is the money question. What is the prospect’s biggest problem? At the end of the day, problems can add up quickly. By identifying the biggest problem, you can laser focus your solution around solving it first (and hopefully more along the way). Is it finding time for everything? Creating engagement content? Tracking real-time conversations happening around your brand, products, or competitors in real-time? 
  • What’s the source of that problem? Sometimes problems are easy to solve, sometimes they are more complex. Getting the actual root cause of a problem is where your sales team can add the most value.
  • If you could only choose one, what is your top priority today? Forcing people to take a step back and prioritize what is most important can help you tailor your solutions to add the most value right from the start.
  • What have been the roadblocks to this problem in the past? This is huge. Understanding previous and current roadblocks can shift the dialogue with the prospect to be more qualifying. If budget is an issue, this might make a prospect immediately unqualified. This type of information is better to find out during the discovery call than when you’re trying to draft up a contract. 
  • What is your timeline? Again, this is another qualifying question. If a prospect’s timeline is three years, that might be an automatic “unqualified – timing” deal status. In this situation, a prospect could be marked for later follow up. No matter how tempting, it’s important to keep only qualified prospects and deals in the pipeline so that senior management and finance can make accurate forecasting decisions. 
  • What budget do you have available to help solve this problem? Does your prospect have champagne taste on a beer budget (and a whiskey attitude)? If the prospect ends up being unqualified due to budget, it never hurts to refer them to one of your partner contacts at a different agency who might be a better fit. Going the extra mile, even when a deal is unlikely, can be an embodiment of your brand’s mission and values (which is almost never a bad thing). 
  • Who helps choose the vendor for this project? No matter how much the VP of Marketing loves you, you still need to do your homework and identify who gets the final say. Depending on the size of the organization, you might have to deal with lengthy vendor-management processes, legal back and forth, compliance, and a review committee.
  • Have you used a similar agency in the past? How did it go? Were they able to deliver on your goals? If not, where did they fall short and how could they have done a better job? 
  • Is there anything I can provide that might help make this an easier decision? This is especially useful when the prospect isn’t the key decision maker. Anything you can provide such as case studies, demos, testimonials can win over key decision makers. 
  • Can I follow up with next week? Never walk away from a sales discovery call without asking the prospect if and when you can follow up, especially if the action items from the call include additional information gathering. Setting the timeline will help keep everyone on task.

Hopefully this list of sales discovery call questions will have your organization well on its way to closing more deals in time. If and when a deal is made, don’t stop there. Here is your bonus list of discovery questions for client kick-off calls!

What’s Your Elevator Pitch?

First things first, you want to kick off the call with their elevator pitch. And, they may also ask to hear about your company as well.

What can you tell us about your business (in 30-60 seconds)? The point of an elevator pitch is to make it short, sweet, and to the point. And most importantly, you need to pick up on their pain points and what they are striving for.

During the kick-off call, listen carefully, take notes, and be prepared to come back to certain points during the call. For example – ‘You mentioned you would like to do x, this is something we have experience with and can do for you. And here’s how we will accomplish that.

Here’s an example of what the B Squared pitch is, as shown on our website.

Additional Questions To Ask During a Marketing Kick-Off Call

After you’ve heard the pitch, it’s time to ask the questions that get into the deep of it. These questions will help you and your team flesh out the plan of what expertise you can provide and what needs to be done to get there.

  • What social media efforts have you already tried? Cut to the chase. Have they dipped their toes into the social media world at all? Are they focusing only on one particular platform (which may not necessarily be the key to their target audience)?
  • What’s your top focus for social media been (& where would you like to see it go)? This can range from growing their audience, engaging with the current one, or handling customer complaints.
  • What platforms are you currently using/What would you like to use? Just as with our first question above, the platform they are using may not be the correct one for their target audience. That’s a great talking point for you during this call. Your agency is the key to unlocking which platform their audience is on the most.
  • Do you currently have a marketing calendar? Not having a marketing calendar means they are flying by the seat of their pants and not on a schedule. These are important for keeping a business on track to promote and highlight upcoming services or events. So, if they don’t have one, this is another area to offer your expertise.
  • Do you do any form of reporting or social listening? If they are not currently using social listening, this is your chance to blow their mind. B Squared Media has seen countless cases of how effective social listening can improve how a business handles everything from new products to customer complaints to boosting their own social media posts.

8 jaw dropping stats prospect questions 2

[Source: mindtickle]

  • Do you have FAQ pages or resources? This is vital when you bring on an outside agency. The team of social media and community managers lean heavily on FAQ documents provided by the client. Quick reference docs will allow a community manager to answer a customer’s question with ease (and without having to bug the account manager or the client 15 times a day with questions).
  • What are your rules of engagement on social media? This works in tandem with the aforementioned FAQ docs. The social media and community managers are an extension of the client. Everything from the tone of voice to how they sign off on replies should be synched with the entire team and client.
  • How do you currently handle escalations? This is equally important to know so everyone is on the same page. Perhaps they have a seamless process. Or maybe they are completely chaotic and reacting to issues as they arise.
  • What are your KPI goals? Are they acquisition cost, lead conversion rate, or return on investments? Knowing the potential client’s KPI goal will give you even more insight into the direction they are looking to go and if it’s realistic for the timeline they are requesting.
  • Do you have content ideas? Are they already cranking out great content or in desperate need of another set of eyes to amp it up? Even if they have ideas of their own, your agency can still come in and take them to the next level to reach their goals.
  • How are your branding and assets? Do they have clear branding or are they a bit chaotic on their social platforms? As an outside agency, you have the advantage of seeing things from a different perspective.
  • What’s your worst social story? This is a great way to get a window into how they’ve been handling things. You can then share how your and your team have handled incidents such as these.

[Source: giphy]

After you’ve wrapped up your question and answer period, it’s time to let them know what your next steps are. In other words, discuss a weekly call time and agenda. Remind them of what you need to be sent to you as a follow-up (logos, assets, etc.), and determine the best form of continued communication (email, phone, platforms like Basecamp).

Wrapping Up

In the end, a sales discovery call should help your sales organization stop grinding gears and become a well-oiled machine. Delighting new clients with a well-run kick-off call gives you a clear picture of how their organization has been handling its social strategy. It also helps you determine what you can do to take them to the next level.

Most importantly, these calls should be an organic conversation. Both sides will be asking questions, but make sure it doesn’t sound as if you’re checking off boxes on a list. Try to be as conversational as possible (you know we love to Think Conversation, Not Content!). Now you’re prepared with the best questions to ask on sales and marketing discovery calls!

What’s your most important question to ask on a discovery call? Let us know in the comments below!

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