One starting point is to use full sentences. This may be good for people who are new to an arena or who are learning how to do Discovery, as it provides a script, essentially, that new folks can follow.
However, once people have become moderately practiced and reasonably knowledgeable, I recommend a crisper technique – more of a template or outline approach.
In my use of Discovery Documents, each topic is presented as a word or short word phrase, and not as full questions. These serve as prompters for me to remember to address or explore what can be a large number of topic areas. For example, my current Discovery Document (used for exploring my prospects’ demo practices) is about 1 and 3/4 pages long, where each topic is typically 1-5 items (often a header “topic” with one or a few “sub-topics”, all shown as a word or short word-phrase).
For example, I've listed "Remote Demos" as a topic. There are a broad range of additional questions that I might ask associated with this topic, if appropriate for any particular prospect (e.g., What tool do you use? What percent of demos are face-to-face vs. remote? Do you typically have someone from your team (sales person, for example) at the customer site? How long are your remote demos, typically? Are they largely used for vision generation – done early in the sales process, "deeper dive", follow-up from face-to-face meetings? Are you doing webinars [another "topic" area on its own...] etc.).
Here are two topics from my current Discovery Document, as an illustration:
- Who Does?
- Process/Discovery Documents?
- Enough Done?
- How/When Communicated:
I think of each topic as a reminder and entry point into a hierarchy of questions that could be asked, where each hierarchy can be explored as broadly and deeply as is appropriate for each prospect individual. Additionally, I may try to "seed" questions in a topic that would lead naturally to another topic on my list.
Any additional thoughts or ideas?