For early stage startups still trying to establish product-market fit, the key to success is effective discovery.

It may seem counterintuitive that an early stage company just starting its outbound sales strategy would fashion a call script that wasn't singularly focused on building business and bringing in desperately needed sales. After all, most startups are hungry for cash flow and it would seem obvious that the whole point of building an outbound sales program should be to bring in revenue that is needed as the company's lifeblood.

That's a crucial mistake to make, especially for a company that still needs to validate product-market fit. Instead, startups should seek  to discover and learn as much as possible about the problems and situations their customer prospects are facing every day in their own business.

We’ll break down some tips from outbound sales discovery call script examples that are based around finding out as much as you can about your potential customers, so you can be sure your company is moving forward with an attractive solution that’s going to grow into a top seller.

Essential Ideals For Your Outbound Sales Call Script

  • Do the research ahead of time so you already know about your prospect 
  • Make the call about them: validate that they’re experiencing the challenges suggested by your research
  • Listen for cues to explore further, which come from confirmation of your informed and well-researched questions
  • Pro tip: 5 well-aligned, solution based conversations is usually more productive than 50 poor fit demo appointments

Base Outbound Sales Scripts On Your Company’s Growth Stage

The importance of learning and discovery is paramount for all outbound sales programs, but it’s especially critical for early stage startups that are still trying to understand their customer prospects and problems as deeply as possible.

For scaleup stage companies the objective doesn’t suddenly flip to “Sell! Sell! Sell at all costs!”, but rather the calls become about qualifying the prospect as thoroughly as possible to ensure good fit for a solution that has already been validated by early adopters in the market.

The Importance Of Research

Prior to launching your outbound program you should have created comprehensive customer personas. These proxies for the ideal customer will be informed by biographical, situational and segment specific information such as:

  • Typical experience level
  • Software and hardware used in their daily work life
  • Standard sales size and cycle length for the company and industry
  • Performance objectives and KPIs in their role and organization 
  • Size of team and responsibilities

This data will prepare you with an understanding about the daily challenges and wins a potential prospect faces on the job. With that knowledge you can engage them in a discussion about the conditions and considerations that are most relevant in their industry, and the role those factors play in their own quest for success.

Make It All About Them

From the beginning of the call you should frame your understanding of a challenge or opportunity from your prospect’s perspective. Do not rush past the introductory phase purely to get to a pitch and brag about the latest technological innovation you’re trying to sell them on.

Imagine yourself as a prospect, and you get a cold call that starts like this:

“Well (prospect name), we've got this cloud migration tool that gets you moved over and doesn't lose any data and seamlessly, securely moves all your data into a hybrid environment…”

If you’re the prospect, you’ve already checked out because not only have you received a waterfall of tech jargon, but the caller has taken the spotlight off of you, your situation and the story you want to tell. 

Try this instead:

You: Hi (prospect), John here with AI For Dummies. I noticed you’re leading a team of developers working on a new platform to accelerate machine learning models that predict customer behaviors. How are you dealing with the challenge of not having a validated starting point data set? 

Prospect: Great question. We had to start from a hypothetical set of data parameters, and that’s slowed our development cycle by 40%.

You: That seems to be a common problem. Most of our customers have had to almost bribe a potential customer to grab a real world set of anonymized aggregated data to build from.

Prospect: That’s exactly what we’re struggling with. Can you help?

In this scenario, the entire conversation was focused on the prospect. See the difference?

Pro tip: You don’t matter. It’s your audience that matters, and in an outbound sales call situation there’s an audience of one on the other end of the line that doesn’t care about anything but what they’re trying to get done.

Understanding The Problem Leads To The Solution

By demonstrating familiarity and understanding of the relevant problems on the other end of the line, you’ll create openings to move the conversation forward. Listen for cues such as:

  • “Yes, that’s what I’m dealing with.”
  • “We’ve been trying to do something about this for a while now.”
  • “No one seems to have all the features I need in an easy-to-use interface.”

Statements like these are the neon-bright sign you need to move the conversation forward, to learn even more about what’s being experienced in the marketplace. It is vital to keep detailed notes on these conversations in your CRM, so new insights about customers and market needs can be aggregated and analyzed to both improve the solution and better refine your prospect targeting, engagement and message. 

Once a deep understanding has been reached about your prospect’s specific situation, you have the credibility to present the value that can be delivered from your product or service by framing it as an opportunity. 

When presenting your value proposition, state it clearly and succinctly: 

“We’ve helped companies like (insert customer names or types, and relevant results with  metrics you can prove). How would this result impact your own business?”

You’ve now moved things forward while keeping the spotlight on the prospect and their own chances of success.

Outbound Call Scripts Evolve With  Company Stage

Noticed how we haven’t talked about overcoming objections? That’s because the aim of your outbound sales call script should always be on questions that move a conversation forward to establish whether or not that prospect is a fit.

While in the early stage you may hear your prospect say they’re not experiencing the difficulties or issues your solution aligns with (data which gets fed back into the sales/marketing intelligence loop). If so, you’ll want to probe deeper and ask about how their company has been so successful solving the problem that most others in the space are struggling with. 

Frame a “Not seeing that problem,” response by congratulating them and stating something like:

“Most of our customers come to us to help them solve these problems, but clearly you’re doing something that’s working. Tell me what’s made you and your company stand apart and get past these common issues?”

Again, it’s not about a pitch or overcoming an objection, it’s about the prospect and their situation. See a pattern?

This approach evolves and informs the learning process - with more data for the sales/marketing intelligence loop - and can reveal if the prospect is being truthful about what’s really going on in their world. 

The key, as always, is to fashion your outbound sales call script into a tool that enables learning and discovery as the first objective every time you pick up the phone.

Need help spinning up your outbound sales process? Start with a Sales Process Checklist