My Top 5 Discovery Questions to Ask

My Top 5 Discovery Questions to Ask

Video transcription (we recommend you put your earbuds in and watch the video though):

Hi everyone, Kimberly Mackey with New Homes Solutions here to bring you another installment of our SOLUTIONS e-Training series. Today we’re going to talk about one of my favorites, “Discovery” and “Discovery Questions.” Specifically, I’m going to share with you my top five Discovery Questions to ask. Okay, maybe I’m going to throw in a couple follow up questions just to give you a little bonus. But first, let’s talk about the importance of building rapport before you launch into Discovery. Sometimes we can ask questions that do double duty and allow you to build rapport, learn something about the history of the person and maybe find some common ground while still learning about what it is that they’re trying to accomplish in their home. But you can’t shortcut the relationship as part of this. You are in the relationship business, not the home building business, not the house selling business. Never mistake that. Make sure that you’re building that rapport first, and then move into that full-blown Discovery. Now, I should give you the full definition of what Discovery is as well; when we are doing a thorough Discovery, we are making sure that we:

  • Understand the wants, the needs and the desires of the prospect, and what the differences are. Sometimes they don’t know the difference in the want and a need or desire.
  • Discovery provides you with the prospect’s financial status. Can they move forward today, or are they waiting on a promotion? Are they waiting on a second insurance settlement or an inheritance or a divorce or some sort of obstacle? Is there something that’s going to keep them from moving forward? You need to know that.
  • Of course, you also need to know their financial parameters. So, what is their monthly budget, and what does that include? How did they arrive at that number? This is going to keep you from over or under-selling, so we need to make sure that once we have built that rapport and we’re in the Discovery process safely, that we are talking to them about their monthly financial parameters. If they are a cash buyer, you’re going to want to know the total purchase price. But when they are dealing with the mortgage, which most of our buyers are, then you’re going to want to make sure that you get that monthly budget number because that’s going to be a whole lot easier for you to use down the road and to help them to keep things in perspective.
  • Discovery also determines which parties are involved in the decision to move forward today. You don’t want to be sitting there trying to write a purchase agreement with someone only to find out that they have to run this by their financial advisor or their parent, or perhaps they have to ask the trustee if there’s a trust involved. Whatever the situation is, that is not the time to find it out. The time to find it out is in Discovery so that you can enlist that person and get them to be part of the decision all the way through. The worst thing that can happen, especially if you have someone who’s protective of your buyers, is for them to feel like they were left out and that perhaps you’re trying to take advantage of the person that they love or they are responsible for taking care of. So, get them involved, and get them involved early.
  • Discovery determines the timeframe. When can they move? When do they want to be in their new home? Let’s work backward from there. When we begin with the end in mind as Dr. Covey tells us, it becomes a lot easier to build that urgency. Sometimes people think, “Well I don’t need to be in until next school year, so I don’t have to start until the spring.” Well, in many places they may already be so far behind the curve that they may need to start in November in order to go through and get all of the stuff done for the pre-build to start the home in the spring so that they can ensure that they’re in by the next school year. But again, you don’t know that unless you begin with the end in mind.
  • Discovery reveals your competition. This is one of those things that we forget to talk about and forget to ask. If you don’t ask where your prospect has been previously and what they found; maybe what they liked, then you’re going to be missing out. You won’t have any idea when they walk out your door and you say, “Wow, that was such a great meeting with these people!” And then you never hear from them again. Always find out where they’ve been and what else that they’ve seen, so that you understand where their state of mind is and how you might stack up with that solution.
  • Discovery helps to eliminate objections before they appear. I know you guys don’t like to overcome a lot of objections, so, if you have a roadmap for where you’re going, chances are you’re not going to get lost or take too many detours along the way. Make sure that you are doing a thorough Discovery process. If you get stuck, you can always ask F.O.R.D.-type questions. F.O.R.D stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Dreams. We’re going to ask them about their family, who else is going to be involved, who’s going to be living with them, what types of activities do their family like to do that goes into that recreation, but it also goes into how they live in the home. Their occupation – obviously we want to know what they do for a living, and that’s going to help us to qualify or start to qualify. It’s also going to tell us if we are in the right location if perhaps, they are limited by where they can live because of their occupation. Then we’re going to talk about their dreams. This is the “why”. We’re trying to always get to the “why”. We get so focused on the “what”, and we start in the middle with the product and how many bedrooms and how many square feet do you want? That’s not as important as finding out what the “why” is. Why do they want to move, and what is this move going to allow them to accomplish in their life?

Here are my five favorite Discovery Questions with a few bonuses thrown in and that’s as you’re trying to make sure that you are doing all of those things.

  1. Make it about the prospect. This is not the time to tell your builder story. This is not the time to tell your story. That comes later. That’s important, but this is about them. My number one (in no particular order) question to ask because it does double duty as it works as a rapport-building question, but it will also tell me where they are in their process. I’m going to ask,“Where are you folks from? Fantastic! Are you from there originally?”
    I want to know, and I don’t recommend that you ask this question before you hop on an airplane, because you’re still going to be talking to that person, and they’re still going to be telling you their life story when you land in Seattle when you’re flying from Tampa. Trust me, done that, been there. [recap] Where are you folks from and are you from there originally?
  2. “Please share with me who else will be involved in your decision to move forward today.” Again, I’m trying to get to who else is going to be there, and I’m going to always use that urgency word, “today”. [recap] Who else is going to be involved in your decision to move forward today?
  3. “How long have you been looking for a new home?” That’s a good one. There are some good follow up questions depending on what they say so, I might ask them, “Great, and what have you seen that you liked?” If they go on and on about how fantastic whatever it was they saw is, I’m going to ask them, “Wow, that does sound like a great home. Would you mind sharing with me what kept you from owning it?” Zip! You’re going to learn if you learn to “zip”. “What else have you learned?” What have they learned along the way? Maybe they didn’t start with the same goals in mind, so now how is their thought process involved? I want to know that. “What concerns, do you have about building or moving into a new home?” We’re so afraid to ask the negative but if you don’t understand where their fears are, how are you going to be able to help them?
  4. “Please tell me about your current home.” “What do you like about it? More importantly, “What is it that you want to change?” These are very important questions that we need to ask.
  5. “How many will be sharing your new home with you? If you look down the road a bit, say, five years from now, how might that change? What we’re trying to find out is will children be moving in or out? Maybe there’s a failure-to-launch pad, or perhaps they’re in that sandwich generation, and there are going to be parents who might be moving in with them while the children are still there. Are we accommodating the space and the needs not only for today but for the next five years or longer depending on how long they’re going to be in the home?

I have a wonderful two-page handout with many more Discovery questions on it. If this is something that you would like a copy of, please feel free to reach out to me. You can reach me through my website which is and I will be happy to send that to you.

Also, stay tuned because later this month we have a fantastic guest blogger coming up, Adam Van Bavel will be joining us from O’Neil Interactive. He is phenomenal, and he’s going to be talking to us about how to use LinkedIn as a selling tool. You won’t want to miss that or any other SOLUTIONS. Make sure you subscribe when you visit the website at Also, if you, your company or your organization is looking for a keynote speaker or sales trainer who can bring the meat because I still walk in your shoes every day, please feel free to reach out to me; I’d love to come and visit you in person. Thank you and go out and sell something new!


Kimberly Mackey is the founder of New Homes Solutions Consulting, and has the reputation as someone with real-world SOLUTIONS in a competitive and rapidly changing sales environment–SOLUTIONS like “50 Sales per Year before Any Walk-in Traffic”. Her primary business is that of a Sales & Marketing Management Consultant.  Companies call on Kimberly to set up the processes and systems within the company so that sales is the engine that drives the train rather than running it off the tracks. Because she has such a depth of experience in all disciplines within the building industry beyond the sales and marketing world, she is highly sought after to help companies to create a Customer Experience Process from potential lead to customer and throughout the building process into the warranty period and beyond. In other words, by creating a smooth transition and communication processes, she helps builders to create “Raving Fans.”

She is a keynote speaker and published author of many Sales and Leadership articles with 20 years of experience as an executive in the residential home building and real estate industry. She has a proven track record working with Builders and Developers of all sizes –from the local/regional companies to the publicly traded nationals. She also works with Brokers from across the country and is the architect and director of the highly successful Preferred Builder Partnership with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Properties Group where she works with 32 builders, 22 offices and over 650 agents.

For more information, or to book Kimberly for your next event, visit While you are there, please be sure to subscribe to SOLUTIONS e-newsletter which comes out twice a month with free training and best practice sharing from across our industry. You are also invited to connect with Kimberly on LinkedIn,; Twitter,; and Facebook, or on YouTube,

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