21 Sales Discovery Questions to Ask When Qualifying a Lead

See our 21 best sales discovery questions to effectively qualify leads plus expert tips, and learn which questions are best for you to use and why.

Sales discovery questions are queries that salespeople ask a lead during a discovery call to judge if they're a good fit for their product or service. These questions can uncover information about many qualification criteria, including budget, authority, timeline, needs, and more. Salespeople typically pick questions that correspond to a lead qualification framework, such as BANT. They ask around 10 questions in total and then qualify or disqualify the lead based on their answers. 

Most discovery questions reveal information about at least one of the following categories: 

All of the questions we’ll list correspond to at least one of the criteria in one of the four most common sales qualification frameworks. This can help you choose which framework to use or find questions that will work with your already chosen framework. 

4 Common Sales Qualification Frameworks

The four most common lead qualification frameworks are BANT, CHAMP, ANUM, and GPCTBA/C&I. Although they may share some qualification criteria, each framework prioritizes them in its own unique order based on the criteria’s relevance to a lead’s qualification. That way, salespeople can ask the most important questions early in the call and disqualify bad leads faster. Read on to learn about the frameworks and which types of businesses use them.

BANT

CHAMP

ANUM

GPCTBA/C&I

The BANT framework prioritizes a lead's budget, authority, needs, and timeline, in that order. Because of its emphasis on judging a lead’s ability to pay, it's common amongst companies that sell high-priced solutions and regularly run into pricing pushback from buyers. To learn more about this popular framework, read our article on how to use BANT on discovery calls.

CHAMP stands for challenges, authority, money, and prioritization, and it’s most common for sellers who believe that if a customer has a challenge that their product or service is able to effectively solve, the customer will pay the price. That’s why the challenge questions come at the beginning and the pricing questions are closer to the end.

ANUM prioritizes authority, needs, urgency, and then money. The companies that benefit most from this qualification framework are B2B businesses that sell to multiple decision-makers and struggle to discern a lead’s buying power just from their job title or online description. They therefore start the discovery call with questions about power in their evaluation process.

GPCTBA/C&I stands for goals, plans, challenges, timeline, budget, authority, and consequences and implications, making it the most comprehensive lead qualification framework. It’s popular amongst companies selling complex enterprise solutions that might attract leads who have misunderstood the product’s features and potential outcomes. These companies want to vet the lead in an exhaustive manner before committing to a long sales cycle with them.

Lead qualification frameworks help you objectively and accurately assess a lead’s qualification on your discovery calls. If you need a refresher on these qualifying calls, read our article on how to hold a discovery call. Otherwise, read on to learn about the best questions to ask, and to see how each one correlates with a certain framework.

Sales Discovery Questions to Assess Initial Fit

These discovery questions ensure that the lead and their company align with your ideal customer profile (ICP). Ideally, you’ve already done some online research to confirm this match, and you’re using this time to double-check attributes like their company size, industry, and other ICP fields like the lead’s responsibilities or the company’s primary customers.  

“Can You Tell Me a Little About Your Company?”

Who Should Use It: B2B salespeople who want to ask an open-ended question that inspires the lead to share the information they think is most important for the seller to know about their business.

This question is sort of like the interview question “Tell me a bit about yourself.” It’s vague enough to let the lead share the details they find most pertinent, whether that’s the company’s mission statement, current projects, or origin story. By asking this question, you’ll likely get some information that will help you measure their company against your ideal customers, while also gaining general context for the rest of the conversation.

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“Tell Me About Your Specific Role and Responsibilities at Your Company”

Who Should Use It: Sales professionals who want to make sure the lead has job functions that are relevant to the product or service.

Ideally, you'll have already checked LinkedIn or the company website for the lead’s job title. But this question helps you go beyond the title into what the lead actually does at the company, so you can more accurately check their alignment with your ICP. Digging deeper is especially crucial if you’re selling in an industry where job titles have different meanings. For example, two different VPs of property management may have completely different responsibilities.

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“What Types of Customers Do You Usually Serve?” 

Who Should Use It: Salespeople who want to understand the company’s target market and placement within the industry.

It’s important to know what types of customers your lead is concerned with satisfying. Are they small businesses, large businesses, or individuals? That way, you can better compare them to your ICP. Plus, later in the sales conversation, you’ll be able to explain how your solution helps them support their target market and therefore gain revenue.

For example, suppose a fintech company discovered that their lead’s company, a bank, was trying to expand its audience to include Gen Z. During a presentation, the fintech company could bring up how Gen Z individuals tend to love handling their banking through a mobile app with as little interaction with tellers as possible. This shows the seller’s industry acumen and concern for the bank’s specific situation. Remember that discovery is often also research.

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Now that you’ve assessed their level of similarity to your ICP, it’s time to start asking about their goals. This will help you figure out if they have objectives that your product or service can support.   

Sales Discovery Questions to Identify Goals

Goal-oriented discovery questions reveal the specific reasoning behind the lead’s interest in the product or service. Are they trying to solve a problem, excel in certain metrics, reduce overall costs, or accomplish some feat? Your goal-related questions will help you figure out if you’re the right business to help them reach wherever they want to go. 

“What Inspired You To Reach Out to Us in Particular?”

Who Should Use It: Sales professionals who want to know the main reason why the customer decided to reach out to their business.

Corresponding Qualification Framework: BANT

This question relates mostly to the “needs” criterion of the BANT lead qualification framework. It helps you discover not only why the lead felt the need to reach out, but also why they decided to reach out to your company specifically. Did they feel your team was especially well-positioned to help them because of your approach or features? Maybe they just heard good things about you. Regardless, this question reveals their needs and helps you assess if you can serve them.

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“What Is Your Main Goal & Why Do You Want to Reach It?”

Who Should Use It: Salespeople who want a clear answer on the lead’s main goal and why they feel it’s important to attain.

Corresponding Qualification Framework: GPCTBA/C&I

The above question relates to the “goals” criterion in the lead qualification framework known as GPCTBA/C&I, commonly used by companies selling complex solutions. By asking this question, you gain insight into the lead’s north star and their reason for aiming at it. You can then start to think about whether your business is a good fit to get them there. Plus, making them repeat their reasoning can enliven their desire for the goal’s attainment, and your solution’s assistance.

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“Can You Elaborate on What You’re Trying to Solve?”

Who Should Use It: Sales professionals whose businesses are primarily focused on solving specific problems for their customers.

Corresponding Qualification Framework: ANUM

This discovery question relates to the “needs” section of the ANUM lead qualification framework. It focuses on unearthing the problem that the lead wants to solve. This is especially useful for companies that sell point solutions or more transactional products that solve a list of common customer problems. The seller can easily check if the lead’s issue is something they’re able to solve at a reasonable price.

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With an understanding of their goals, now ask some questions to learn about their issues and pain points that they want resolved. You might also want to uncover some challenges preventing them from reaching their goals. 

Sales Discovery Questions to Unearth Pain Points

These discovery questions are designed to enable you to find the major pain points or challenges that your lead is suffering from. Once these are uncovered, you can more easily determine whether or not your business is going to be the right pain reliever for the lead.

“What Challenges Are Preventing You From Reaching Your Goals?”

Who Should Use It: Salespeople looking to learn about the roadblocks stopping the lead from attaining their goals.

Corresponding Qualification Framework: CHAMP

This question serves the purpose of assessing “challenges” in the CHAMP qualification framework. It aims to uncover the hurdles the lead feels your business can help them hop over. Here, you can assess whether their belief in your ability is right or wrong. Do you have the features, attributes, and services to help overcome those challenges, or should the lead look elsewhere?

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“Can You Tell Me About the Major Pain Points You’re Experiencing?”   

Who Should Use It: Salespeople who help customers with a list of pain points and want to see if the lead has some of them.

Corresponding Qualification Framework: BANT

The above discovery question deals with the “needs” section of the BANT qualification framework by uncovering the lead’s major pain points. These might be wasted time, disorganized documents, brain-numbing administrative tasks, or a whole list of grievances. After hearing the lead’s answer, start to think about if and how your business can fix the issues. If the majority of them seem like things you’re incapable of solving, consider disqualifying them.

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“How Have Your Plans to Achieve This Goal Come Up Short?”

Who Should Use It: Salespeople who want to know why the company’s past plans have failed to solve their problem or reach their goal.

Corresponding Qualification Framework: GPCTBA/C&I

This question corresponds to the “plans” section of the GPCTBA/C&I lead qualification framework. It encourages the lead to talk about where their plans have gone wrong or why their current plan isn’t working. They might tell you in which areas they need support for the plan to work. This allows you to spot where your business comes in. Are there specific challenges or issues you can solve for them, or support you can provide to assist their execution?

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After assessing their pain points, begin asking questions to gauge the lead’s expected positive impact of solving those pain points and their perceived negative implications of not solving them. This will help you see how important your solution really is to them. 

Sales Discovery Questions to Measure Impact or Implications

The below impact questions are meant to reveal the lead’s expectations about what your product or service will enable them to do, thereby helping you decide whether those expectations are too lofty or perfectly reasonable for your business to accomplish. And the implication questions will primarily help you uncover the negative consequences of not buying your solution or fixing their problem.

“How Do You Expect Your Life to Change for the Better?” 

Who Should Use It: Salespeople who want to understand the lead’s vision of their future life with your product or service.

Corresponding Qualification Framework: CHAMP

This question corresponds to the “prioritization” criterion of the CHAMP lead qualification framework, specifically in a way that gauges positive impact. It reveals the lead’s perceived magnitude of the impact of the solution on their personal life. A lead who has a strong vision of their future life and articulates it with passion is more likely to prioritize this solution than a lead who says something lukewarm like “I think it might save me a bit of time.”

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“What Business Outcomes Do You Hope to Achieve via This Initiative?”

Who Should Use It: Sales professionals who want to uncover the lead’s desired business impact following a purchase.

Corresponding Qualification Framework: GPCTBA/C&I

This discovery question assesses your solution’s business “implications,” which in the GPCTBA/C&I framework can refer to positive or negative outcomes. When you ask them to explain what they want to see, they may answer with specific targets like revenue numbers or more vague outcomes like “more productive employees.” If the answer is vague, ask them to specify so that you can ensure your solution’s potential value for their business aligns with their expectations.

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“What Are the Implications of Not Solving {Pain Point}?” 

Who Should Use It: Salespeople looking to see how important the solution is to the buyer based on the negative consequences of not resolving their pain point.

Corresponding Qualification Framework: GPCTBA/C&I

This question falls under the “consequences” criterion of the GPCTBA/C&I framework. If the lead lists a cascade of problems that will occur if the pain point sticks around, then they’ll likely have a strong need for your solution. If, on the other hand, the lead feels like nothing that bad will happen if they don’t solve their pain point, then you might be in for a long sales cycle.

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So, you’ve unearthed information about their goals, pain points, and expected impact and implications. Now it’s time to see if they have the money to pay for their needs and desires. 

Sales Discovery Questions to Pinpoint Budget

The below discovery questions are designed to reveal if the lead has the right amount of budget or funds to pay for the product or service. That way, you won’t nurture someone who in the end will be unable to pay your price and force you to offer a steep discount or lose the sale. 

“Do You Have a Budget Set Aside for This Solution?”

Who Should Use It: B2B salespeople who want to know how financially prepared the lead is to purchase their solution.

Corresponding Qualification Framework: BANT

This question corresponds to “budget,” the first section of the BANT framework. It encourages the lead to speak to whether or not they’ve already set aside money for this purchase. Asking this early allows the seller to deal with price ASAP and disqualify leads who can’t pay quickly. If the lead has put money aside for the purchase, this indicates a high level of prioritization or need.

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“How Much Money Are You Expecting to Pay to Solve This Issue?” 

Who Should Use It: Salespeople attempting to gauge the lead’s ability and desire to pay for their solution to a problem or challenge.

Corresponding Qualification Framework: CHAMP

This discovery question relates to the “money” portion of CHAMP. By asking it, you learn how much money the lead is expecting to pay for your product or service to solve the problem or challenge you’ve already uncovered earlier in the discovery call. The lead’s answer will also give you a sense of their commitment to solving the issue. The more they’re willing to pay, the more they want to solve the problem.

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“Our Rack Rate Is X. Will That Work on Your End?”

Who Should Use It: Salespeople selling a product or service with a set price who want to qualify the lead on financial fit.

Corresponding Qualification Framework: GPCTBA/C&I

This question about finances fits into the “budget” criterion of GPCTBA/C&I. It directly states the price of the product or service and then asks the lead if they have the budget to afford it. If you’re selling something with little to no room for negotiation, this strategy would work well for you. The same goes for a solopreneur with only a limited amount of time but a high demand for their services. They can use this question to weed out leads who won’t pay top dollar.

Even though the budget is in the middle of GPCTBA/C&I, it still carries a lot of weight because the framework is meant for hyper-qualifying leads for complex products and long sales cycles.

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Pinpointing budget is essential. But you also need to see if other aspects of their buying process line up with your sales process. The next several questions will help you do that.

Sales Discovery Questions to Uncover the Buying Process

The following discovery call questions help you uncover information about the lead’s buying process, from the number of decision-makers involved and the authority of the lead to the steps in the evaluation process. 

“Will Others Be Involved in the Evaluation Process? And What’s Your Role?”

Who Should Use It: Salespeople who regularly encounter multiple decision-makers in their sales processes and thus want to see the landscape of decision-making power.

Corresponding Qualification Framework: ANUM

This question falls under the “authority” section of the ANUM framework, which prioritizes authority and is common amongst B2B brands selling to multiple decision-makers. By asking this question, you’ll learn who else you’ll have to present to throughout the process. You’ll also learn the lead’s influence. Are they merely a scout, or perhaps a technical expert? If they're not the decision-maker, this question also helps you get an introduction to that person.

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“Will You Be My Main Point of Contact Throughout This Process?”

Who Should Use It: B2B salespeople with longer sales cycles who want to understand the decision-making power of the lead and get a sense of how to allocate their communications.

Corresponding Qualification Framework: BANT

This discovery question assesses the lead’s “authority” in the BANT framework. The lead’s answer will reveal whether they're simply doing a first look at your product before passing the evaluation off to a superior or if they’re in it for the long haul and have a lot of influence over the final purchase. It could turn out that they're a champion but need approval from a manager. All intel is helpful. Going forward, you’ll also know which person to email and schedule meetings with.

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“What’s Your Typical Evaluation Process for Solutions Similar to Ours?”

Who Should Use It: Salespeople who want the lead to lay out the next steps in the buying process so that they can better assess their fit.

Corresponding Qualification Framework: CHAMP

This buying process question corresponds mostly to the “authority” section of CHAMP, but it may also uncover the company’s timeline as well. By asking the lead to walk you through their buying process, you’ll learn not only what you’ll have to do (for example, give demos, presentations, etc.,) but also who the big players are in the process. The lead may even reveal the name of the person who will ultimately sign the contract or other intel to help you strategically sell.

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Hopefully, after asking some authority-based questions, you’ve figured out who the decision-makers and influencers are in the sale. You can also figure out how quickly the lead wants your solution. 

Sales Discovery Questions to Reveal Timeline, Priority, or Urgency

The below sales discovery questions will help you figure out how soon the lead plans to make the purchase and how much they're prioritizing it. This will help you assess if your timeline aligns with theirs, and how invested they are in making a purchase. Both are important qualification indicators. 

“When Do You Want to Have This {Implemented or Delivered}?"

Who Should Use It: Sales professionals trying to see if the lead’s timeline for purchase aligns with their ideal sales cycle.

Corresponding Qualification Framework: BANT

This question assesses “timeline” in BANT by asking the lead to tell them the general date they want to finish the purchase and implement or receive the product or service. The revealed information allows you to disqualify leads who want either unrealistically fast delivery or a long buying process that will take your focus away from deals that will close this quarter or next.

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“Can You Tell Me About Your Past Attempts to Solve {Problem}?”

Who Should Use It: Salespeople who want to understand how much the lead prioritizes solving the problem that their solution can resolve.

Corresponding Qualification Framework: CHAMP

This question reveals the lead’s level of “prioritization,” a criterion in the CHAMP framework. When you ask the lead to walk you through their past attempts, you learn how much time and resources they've devoted to solving this issue. As a rule, the more they've invested in resolving it, the more they’re prioritizing finding a product or service that can help them.

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“What Are the Drawbacks of Waiting to Solve {Problem} Soon?”

Who Should Use It: Sales professionals who want to know how urgent it is for the lead to solve their major problem before it grows into something worse.

Corresponding Qualification Framework: ANUM

The above question deals with the “urgency” criterion in ANUM by influencing the lead to talk about the costs of waiting and letting the issue fester. They’re forced to think about how the problem might grow with each passing day into something nastier and more costly. If, for example, a delay incurs high costs, either financial, personal, or operational, the lead will likely have a sense of urgency to complete this deal and start using your product or service.

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We’ve covered the main categories of questions for discovery calls. There are a lot of questions to choose from, so read on for some tips from experts on how to pick the right ones for you.

Top 5 Expert Tips to Choose Discovery Questions

After generating a lead, there are numerous potential discovery questions you could ask to judge fit. But you have only a limited amount of time, not to mention customer patience, on a discovery call. So you have to be deliberate about your selections. Below are some tips for picking questions that serve your goals, sourced from sales experts across various fields.   

Becky Colwell

Becky Colwell

Sales Coach

Use “What Brought You Here Today” As Your First Question

“My first question is normally "What brought you here today?" It's a nice, non-threatening, open question that should have your potential client answering in an open manner that will enlighten you. Remember, almost all purchases are made from an emotional response (then backed up with facts), so finding out the reason why they're interested in what you provide means you can build the rest of your conversation around what's important to them.”

— Becky Colwell, heart to heart sales

JB Blum

JB Blum

Partner

Choose Questions That Reveal the Lead’s Discomfort

“​​Some of the best discovery call questions are part of the 'discomfort tree.' The discomfort tree asks questions that discover the root cause of pain, how long the discomfort has been present, and how serious a discomfort this is. Ideal prospects have an acute problem they have not been able to solve that impacts something deeply important to them.”

— JB Blum, JB and The Doctor

Vince Burruano

Vince Burruano

President

Prioritize Questions About Budget, Needs & Authority 

“The questions you develop should focus on three core areas: need, authority, and budget. First, does the person or company have a real need? Is it a need you can satisfy? Can you actually help? Second, does the person you are speaking with have the authority to make a buying decision? If not, who will make the final decision and authorize the purchase? Third, is there a budget or funds available for the acquisition of a product or service? If not, how might the person or company justify an expenditure to acquire the solution if it will truly solve their problem or make their world better?”

— Vince Burruano, Vince Burruano Consulting Services, LLC

Inez Stanway

Inez Stanway

CEO

Ask Open-Ended Questions

“First, think about what information you need to gather in order to determine if the lead is qualified. What are the key criteria that must be met? Make sure you have a clear understanding of what you're looking for before you start asking questions. Next, create a list of open-ended questions that will encourage the lead to share information about their situation. Avoid yes or no questions, as they won't give you the detailed information you need. Instead, focus on questions that begin with who, what, when, where, how, and why.”

— Inez Stanway, LiveLaughCreate

Elias Diaz

Elias Diaz

Director of Sales

Include Questions That Dig Into Pain Points 

“The most effective way to choose or identify a question to ask for your discovery call is getting into your potential customer's pain points. Check on what problem they’re trying to solve and what makes them interested in contacting you. As you dive deeper, you’ll be able to craft questions that will uncover their needs and how your service or product can help them. The next step is to let them imagine what will happen if the problem is not addressed quickly. You can emphasize urgency here as well and how important their decision will be.”

— Elias Diaz, Virtudesk

Keep the above recommendations in mind as you choose your lead qualification framework and discovery questions. Also remember that you can test new questions in your discovery calls to see how much they help you uncover the information you need to qualify leads. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How Do You Choose Which Sales Discovery Questions to Ask?

The best way to ensure that you choose the right sales discovery questions is to use a lead qualification framework like BANT, CHAMP, ANUM, or GPCTBA/C&I as your guide. Following a framework helps you pick only the most crucial questions for qualifying leads, preferably 2–3 questions for each criterion. For example, with BANT, you’d pick a total of 8–12 questions to assess the lead’s budget, authority, needs, and timeline. 

Bottom Line: Sales Discovery Questions

By asking a lead the right questions during a discovery call, you’re able to judge them based on various qualification criteria, such as budget, authority, pain points, and prioritization. The best way to ensure you create a repeatable discovery call process that results in accurate, unbiased lead qualification decisions is to pick a lead qualification framework, choose questions that cover the criteria, and document these questions into your discovery call script.

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