Before you meet a client, the only thing you know about them is that they’re interested in your services. But you have so much more to learn before you start working together. And a discovery call can help you understand the client and their needs.
And while many conversations can take place over email, this one needs to be a call. Those who get jittery before phone meetings can try rehearsing with a colleague to avoid fumbles. So have a solid preparation and a clear agenda, and foster trust between you and the prospective client. After all, you want to create a great first impression.
Here’s everything you need to know about what a discovery call is, what it entails, and how to prepare for it.
What is a discovery call?
A discovery call is the first conversation a business holds with a lead. As the name of the call implies, the talk aims to “discover” — i.e., learn about the prospect and their needs.
Discovery calls encourage exploration on both ends of the line. As a result, the business owner and potential client determine whether working together is a good fit. Business owners learn whether their products or services can help by understanding the client's pain points and needs.
Remember, these calls aren’t sales pitches. Instead, they’re an opportunity for the business owner to get to know the client and understand their specific requirements.
Steps for holding a client discovery call
Discovery calls have a clear objective. A business owner and client may decide whether to work together, or a customer will decide whether to purchase a company’s product. So you should go into one of these calls with clear intentions. Here’s how you can set yourself up for a productive conversation:
- Prepare a discovery call agenda: Determine the critical points you wish to cover on the call, including detailed notes on the questions you’ll ask the client. Be sure to build in time for the client’s responses and questions. And if the conversation doesn’t go as planned, follow it wherever it leads. It’s more important to fully understand the client’s needs than stick to the script.
- Introduce yourself and the call’s intention: Briefly introduce the company and your role in it. Then, move into an explanation of what you’ll cover in the call (your prep notes will help here). You can also use this time to chat and build rapport with your client. Just be sure to jump into the heart of the conversation after a few minutes. For example, in a 60-minute call, build rapport and introduce yourself for no more than 10 minutes.
- Ask discovery call questions: In this part, ask clients about their goals and needs using the questions you prepared beforehand. Inquire about the obstacles keeping them from their goals and action items. Also, try to get an idea of the client’s budget. Active listening is the best practice during this moment of communication. If you’re on an audio call, show you’re listening by repeating key points and confirming you’ve understood correctly. You can also verbally acknowledge comments by offering quick responses like “Yes,” or “That makes sense.” On a video call, however, maintain eye contact so the client feels assured they’re seeking the right person. In both cases, take notes; when you do so on video, the client will see you’re invested.
- Offer solutions: After hearing the client out, you know whether your business will be able to help. And if you have hesitations, state them. But if your product or services suit the client’s needs, let them know what you can do to help them reach their objective. If you’re on a video call, you can briefly present how your company can meet the client’s needs. The idea is not to sell the client on your service or product now but just to provide enough information that they can fully consider the possibility of working with you after hanging up.
- Explain the next steps: Use the last few minutes of your conversation to explain what the client should do if they want more information, like a price quote, or to discuss the opportunity further in a follow-up call. Thank the person for their time, no matter the outcome.
- Follow up: Send the prospective client a quick email to say thanks and remind them you’re available to answer questions. Attach materials, like a deck containing more information on your services, to help clients make informed decisions. Feel free to follow up again if you don’t hear back from the client promptly. Express your continued interest, and try to determine theirs.
Essential discovery questions to ask prospects
Discovery calls rely on asking the right questions. When you do, you give the person on the other end of the line the opportunity to fully explain their needs. Not every discovery call needs to end in a sale or even a promise to talk further, but you should have a solid idea of whether your company can help. The following open-ended questions can get you there:
- What are your goals? Whether you develop applications or run a coaching business, you must know the client’s objectives before taking the next step in the conversation. You may be able to immediately disqualify a lead after this question if you know your product or service can’t help.
- Why are you looking for this service/product? Through this question, you’ll discover the client’s pain point. If a client has hit a roadblock, it would be your job to remove it and help them achieve their goals. Therefore, You must know whether your service or product can tackle the issue.
- How are you currently working toward your goal? This question will allow you to understand whether your client is trying to reach a goal but failing or hasn’t started work because they wish to do so with your support.
- What is your budget for this work? Talking about money can be uncomfortable, but getting this question out of the way is essential. Understanding if the client can spend the resources necessary to work with you determines whether to move forward. Avoid words like “afford” not to demean the client. Instead, frame this question regarding the client’s budget for the work.
- What would it mean to you to achieve this goal? When working with a new client, you must understand their motivations. Sometimes, understanding intentions is more powerful than grasping goals, as ultimately, motivation will drive the objectives you set when working with this client.
Organize new leads with Practice
Gaining clarity on day one encourages a long, fruitful relationship with a client. So don’t underestimate the power of a discovery call. If you don’t already hold these conversations, add them to your client acquisition strategy and watch your conversion rates soar.
As you convert discovery call leads into clients, you’ll need a place to store sensitive information and continue to chat. And Practice’s customer relationship management (CRM) platform called Client Management Software, made with business owners in mind, allows you to securely save client information, send messages and documents, and receive payment for services –– all in one place. Try it today.