Why Prospect Research Interviews Generate Better Results than Sales Discovery Calls

In 2020 an early stage SaaS company came to us for help with their sales pipeline. They were taking lots of sales discovery calls that weren’t working, and they couldn’t figure out why.  We quickly realized that they’d although they thought they had a buyer persona, they really didn’t have the insights to understand what those buyers cared about. “Kitchen sink” messaging wasn’t working for them, so we put together a Prospect Intelligence research project to understand motivations and priorities that they weren’t hearing in sales calls. 

After several qualitative research calls they realized that the real buyer was usually in a different role, and cared about different things than they predicted. Because there was no sales pressure, prospects opened up and disclosed far more information than they would to a salesperson working towards a deal.

Sales discovery calls are essential, but they are a slow, expensive way to discover that your value proposition isn’t resonating.  Let’s look at the differences between these approaches, and the advantages of qualitative prospect research interviews when it comes to understanding your target market and driving business growth.

Building Trust and Rapport

A key difference between qualitative prospect research interviews and sales discovery calls lies in the purpose of the interaction. Sales discovery calls often have an underlying goal of selling a product or service, which can make it challenging to build trust with the prospect. In contrast, qualitative research interviews focus on understanding the prospect’s needs, motivations, and challenges, fostering an environment of open communication. In essence, it’s less “Here’s why our product is the best,” and more “Talk to me. Unload your troubles, and maybe I can help.”

By engaging in a conversation and expressing genuine interest in the prospect’s experiences, businesses can build a strong rapport that lays the foundation for future interactions. This rapport not only increases the likelihood of honest and candid responses during the interview but also positions the business as a trusted partner and resource, which can be invaluable in future sales efforts.

Uncovering the “Why” Behind Decision-Making

Sales discovery calls might identify that a prospect needs a faster or more robust solution, but they don’t get to the underlying motivations and decision-making processes that drive the prospect’s behavior. Is it because they want to beat their competitor to market, or is it because their current solution crashes too often? Qualitative prospect research interviews, on the other hand, delve deeper into the “why” behind these factors, exploring the emotions, values, and beliefs that influence the prospect’s actions.

This ‘why’ is crucial. This in-depth understanding of the prospect’s motivations can help businesses tailor their products, services, and marketing strategies to better address the needs and preferences of their target market. By aligning their offering with the prospect’s core values and driving factors, businesses can create a more compelling value proposition and increase the likelihood of conversion.

Flexibility and Adaptability

Sales discovery calls often follow a predetermined script or set of questions that surround the solution you’re trying to sell, limiting the opportunity for spontaneous exploration of emerging themes or insights. In contrast, qualitative prospect research interviews are inherently flexible and adaptable, allowing the interviewer to probe deeper into the prospect’s responses and follow-up on interesting or unexpected insights.

This adaptability enables businesses to uncover new opportunities, challenges, or market trends that may not have been anticipated at the outset of the research. By staying attuned to these emerging insights and adapting the interview process accordingly, businesses can stay ahead of the competition and continuously refine their strategies based on real-time market feedback.

We analyzed 930 “Lost Opportunities” generated from 40 b2b tech companies across 96 in-person and virtual events and why buyers didn’t move forward. Download our “Lost Opportunities Analysis” playbook to apply these lessons so you’re not leaving money on the table.

Generating Insights for Innovation

Speaking of insights, one of the primary advantages of qualitative prospect research interviews is their ability to generate insights that can drive innovation and growth. By exploring the unmet needs, desires, and frustrations of prospects, businesses can identify opportunities for new products, services, or features that address these gaps in the market.

Furthermore, qualitative research interviews can reveal hidden barriers to adoption or success that may not be apparent during a sales discovery call. By understanding and addressing these barriers, businesses can develop more effective strategies for converting prospects into customers and fostering long-term loyalty on a larger scale.

Informing Marketing and Sales Strategies

Prospect research interviews can provide invaluable intelligence for informing and refining marketing and sales strategies. By understanding the prospect’s decision-making process, preferences, and concerns, businesses can create targeted messaging and campaigns that resonate with their audience and address their unique needs.

Additionally, qualitative research interviews can help businesses identify the most effective channels, tactics, and approaches for reaching and engaging their target market. Armed with this information, businesses can optimize their marketing and sales efforts, maximizing their return on investment and driving sustainable growth.

Reducing Sales Resistance

Sales discovery calls can sometimes be met with resistance, as prospects are often wary of sales pitches and may not be ready to make a purchasing decision. In contrast, qualitative prospect  interviews are inherently research-driven, and focus on understanding and empathizing with the prospect’s needs and concerns. This can help to reduce sales resistance and create a more receptive environment for future sales efforts.

By approaching prospects with a genuine desire to learn from their experiences and challenges, they’re no longer expecting an aggressive salesperson armed with a pitch, but a trusted advisor. This shift in perspective can help to break down barriers and open the door for more productive conversations and collaboration.

Creating Long-Term Relationships

Every conversation is a brick in the foundation of a long-term partnership. Qualitative prospect research interviews can play a crucial role in building these relationships with potential customers. By engaging in meaningful conversations and demonstrating a genuine interest in the prospect’s needs and concerns, businesses can foster goodwill that extends beyond the initial research interaction. 

These long-term relationships can provide a wealth of benefits, including increased customer lifetime value, positive word-of-mouth, and valuable referrals. By investing in these sorts of interviews, businesses can lay the groundwork for lasting connections that drive ongoing success and growth.


While sales discovery calls have their place in the sales process, qualitative prospect research interviews offer a more in-depth, valuable approach to understanding and engaging with potential customers. By focusing on building trust and rapport, uncovering the “why” behind decision-making, and generating insights that inform innovation and strategy, research interviews hold the key to driving business growth and long-term success.

Incorporating qualitative prospect research interviews into your marketing and sales efforts can provide a competitive edge, helping you better understand your target market, tailor your offerings to meet their needs, and build lasting relationships that fuel growth. By recognizing the unique value of these interviews and leveraging their advantages, businesses can unlock new opportunities. Not exactly sure where to start? BuyerForesight has designed countless qualitative research programs for clients – we can do the same for you.

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