What Is A Discovery Call?
Sometimes it’s called a consultation or a sales call – and at its core – a discovery call is like a meet and greet - the purpose is to allow you and your potential client to get to know one another better to see if there is a good fit and a reason to continue talking. Its an opportunity to develop a relationship and demonstrate your awesomeness.
And that’s why having an effective discovery or sales call is so critical – how you interact with your potential client in this meeting sets the tone for the entire relationship with your potential client going forward.
I know from experience and observation that most buyers will have already made a decision as to whether or not they actually want to work with you based on this conversation alone – they may not voice it until much later but this conversation is critical.
But it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Here’s the deal. This article will show you:
- The 4 keys to leading an amazing (and profitable) sales call
- Key phrases and questions that will help you get past the "awkward" and into "awesome" when talking to your buyers
- And what you need to do before, during and after to increase your likelihood of success
At the end of this call you will have everything that you need to conduct an ah-maz-ing discovery call - one that works for both you and the person interested in your services – youll even have a template that you can use to build a flow that works for you.
I have developed a sweet free download for you to go with this masterclass. Theres a link to it below. And you don’t want to miss this one – it lays out the flow of the meeting for you, so all you have to do is fill it in and customize for your use!
So if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or nervous trying to figure out how to qualify leads or move a potential client out of the “friend zone” and into the "buying zone" – this training is for you.
Or if your already using discovery calls but aren’t seeing the results that you would like – maybe you'd like to see more clients come out of them – this training can help you refine your call flow and your approach to help you get more of the yeses that you deserve and help you help more people
When Are Discovery Meetings A Good fit?
If you don't currently have sales or discovery meetings built into your process, you may be asking yourself – should I have a discovery call built into my sales plan?
My answer to the is maybe.
There are a few situations that discovery meetings are a really good fit for:
- 1 on 1 work - coaching, consulting etc.
- High Investment/price - masterminds, VIP days, consulting, high ticket items
- B2B - most business to business sales situations
Any time that you are planning on engaging in longer-term 1 on 1 work with a potential client I recommend having a discovery call process. This will give you the chance to decide if theres a good mutual fit between the two of you and if its work that you are interested in doing.
Its much easier to to say no in the beginning than it is to try to walk away after getting started. Ive been there and done that - its not a good time.
In general, I like to say that the larger the investment that you are asking someone to make the more likely it is that you will need to have one or more sales meetings. Most large purchases are not made in the very first conversation. This makes sense, if you think about how you would by personally or for your business. For many of us the larger the commitment, the more likely you are to require additional time, trust and information before purchasing.
Finally, if you are in business to business sales (B2B) it is HIGHLY likely that you will benefit greatly from implementing planned discovery calls into your routine. The more complex the B2B sale is, when you're selling to a larger organization with larger teams making decisions and multiple levels of approval needed the more you will need effective discovery meetings, typically more than one.
A Word Of Caution
Discovery and sales calls are an investment of your time (which equals money) and so you'll want to be sure that you are only using them for offerings that have enough room in the profit margin to justify these costs.
For example, if your selling something with a price of $400 and it costs you $200 to produce and you hold a 60 minute discovery call with you potential buyer and your hourly rate is $250 - you suddenly just went negative $5.00.
$400 - $200 (cost to produce ) -$250 (cost of your time) = -$5.00
Not a good deal for you. So beware of conducting discovery meetings for lower margin offerings.
The Benefits Of Discovery Meetings
1. They help you build trust.
Using the framework presented in this training will show you how to keep the focus off of yourself on the buyer and their potential needs. This will set you apart from everyone else out there.
This all starts with using questions to better understand the buyer and help lead them to a decision that will help benefit them.
We are going to go deep into how to use questions to build trust later in this article but it is important to understand that not onlyquestions help you align your service or offering according to what matters to your buyer, but they grow an appreciation and a relationship between the two of you.
If youre mindset is one of helping – having a conversation seems so much more natural. It makes sense and feels compfortable to get to know the person and their needs. Unlike innodating them with a ton of imformation on you and your product that they never actually asked to hear and that doenst apply to them.
Valued conversations lead to relationships. Relationships lead to positive emotions and purchasing decisions are driven by emotion first.
2. Helps Eliminate Buyer Concerns
If used correctly, questions will also allow you to limit or address buyer concerns (also known as the dreaded “objection”) as you move through the conversation, making it easier to ask for the person's business in the end and ultimately speeding up the entire process and creating a better experience for you and the other person.
3. Increases the likelihood of you gaining a new client (conversion rate)
Because you have taken the time upfront to learn about your buyer and you are tenable to tailor your presentation of your offering to their needs, and you've built trust and addressed their concerns - it is easy to see why you would have a higher likelihood of gaining this client.
Steps To A Successful Discovery Call
There are 4 simple steps in the Selling With Soul Discovery Meeting frame work. They outline what you need to do before, during and after a sales call to dramatically increase your likelihood of success and to feel cool, calm and confident doing it.
Here are the keys to success:
Key 1: Research and Prepare
Key 2: Get Into The Mindset For Success
Key 3: Build Trust Through Questioning & Listening
Key 4: Ask For The Business
Lets look at each in detail.
Key 1: Research and Prepare
This is not a time to “wing it” – you have a real opportunity in front of you and to be your best you really really – pretty please with sprinkle son top – need to prepare.
To make this easier for you, I’ve created a great Discovery Call worksheet for you to use to prepare for each of your calls. You can get it by clicking on the image below.
You’ll want to be sure to grab that to guide you through the entire process that we are going to go over here.
As a general rule of thumb, in my opinion is the larger or more complex the sale is – the more time you need to put into preparing for the call.
So for example – if you are a health coach and your buyer is a consumer looking for nutritional and exercise coaching you might spend 15-20 minutes preparing for instance.
But on the opposite end of the spectrum if youre selling a product or technology into a medium sized company and the process is more involved and longer in length preparation needs to go much deeper. And could easily take 3 hours or more.
Avoid this at all costs please...
If youre using an intake form that your potential customer fills out prior to your meeting like a survey or questionnaire – please take the time to review that prior to your call. I cant tell you how many times I've seen people try to review it on the fly with the buyer. This is immensely frustrating to the person who took the time to fill it out. To avoid leaving your potential buyer feel undervalued, review that ahead of time and use that knowledge to carefully craft your meeting and questions.
A couple of hints...
On a practical level – its not a good idea to book your discovery calls back to back meaning one right after another. These meetings can take a lot out of you, they can be emotionally draining. You’ll need some time to review your notes, recharge your energy and avoid fatigue. Get up, walk, stretch or get a snack.
when possible, try to schedule important sales meetings at a time fo day where you will be at your optimal energy level. If your a morning person who drags by the time 2pm hits - try not to schedule your most meetings in the late afternoons, for example.
The first step in in researching and preparing is to actually do the research around the person and company that you are meeting with.
- Start by checking out their website – be sure to check the “about section”. Get a sense of where they’re headed, they’re background, personal connections etc.
- f it’s an established business also look for financial results, announcements and anything else that will help you understand their goals, important initiatives and pain points
- Check social media. LinkedIn will give you professional information on the people you are meeting with. Facebook can provide valuable insight on the brand and personal interests as can Instagram. Do you have any connections or friends in common? If so, what might they be able to tell you? Are there other people in that organization that you should approach ad well? Have they interacted with any of your content on these sites?
- Check your CRM (customer relationship manager) or email provider and see what they’ve clicked on, downloaded, viewed or asked about in the past. This will often provide important context for you.
- Be sure to Google the person and the company – you may get some additional info that can be helpful. Are they listed as clients on any of your competitors websites.
Once you’ve completed your critical research now its time to prepare for your meeting.
This is where you’ll want to try to figure out how you might be able to have a positive impact on your potential new client. It is important that you have some idea of this before you meet with the buyer – you wont know exactly until you speak with them but youll be prepared with some ideas.
Based on your cyber stalking (the legal kind) and your work with other similar clients you’ll want to have an idea around the following:
- What kinds of problems or challanges might they be facing?
- What are their potential goals or what’s an ideal state for them?
- What value could they get out of working with you?
- What difference could your offering make?
After doing all of this research and once you have experience, the temptation might come to assume that you know everything about the buyer.
Don’t do tihs. As we said above, every buyer is unique and we need to treat them that way if we want to build productive relationships and create the desire to work with us.
At this point its all a guessing game and your ideas are fairly generic but having an idea will help you mentally prepare.
Build Your List Of Questions
Questions are one of the greatest sales tools that you have available.
Remember as we said earlier the point of asking questions is to
- Focus on the buyer – not you
- Learn about the unique needs and desires of the individual you are speaking to
- Better understand how the purchasing decision will be made and the timeline for it
Listen to Masterclass #2 with Deb Calvert on the power of questions for a complete overview of how to use questions to build relationships th
In general questions should be:
- Open ended – use words like: who, what, were, when, why and phrases like: walk me through, describe for me, paint a picture ….
- Be important and meaningful
- Not be cliché or overused
Examples of Power Questions:
- What do you hope to gain out of working with me?
- Of the goals that you have described, what are your top 3 and why?
- What would it mean to you personally to accomplish this?
- What is your motivation to get this done?
- How do you measure success?
- What has led you to consider working with me at this time?
- How are you going to make this decision, what are your criteria?
Determine what outcome you would like to see
If youre clear on what you want to happen you are far more likely to accomplish it.
What do you want to happen as a result of this meeting? Whats the next logical step?
While most of us would answer this question – duh mer – I want to get a new client and a signed contract. This doesn’t always make sense, like in the case of the complex sale or high ticket item. Sometimes a next best step is a follow-up meeting.
Put yourself in the buyers shoes and ask yourself how you would make that decision.
Come up with an objective that makes sense for you in that situation.
Develop Your Agenda
The last step in preparing is pull an agenda together.
This doenst have to be complex – simply outline the sections and highpoints of the conversation so that you have something to refer to. Save this agenda to use as a template in similar calls that you have going forward.
What I suggest for an agenda and what Ive outlined for you in your discovery call worksheet that we are reviewing is something like this for a flow:
1. Open the conversation
- Review agenda and gain agreement to move forward
2. Lead the discussion – this is where youll spend the bulk of your time
- Give a brief overview of your value proposition – the what and the why of what you do
3. Lead discovery conversation
4. Discuss next steps
So that’s it, its really a simple 3 step agenda – simple to pull together and easy for the buyer to move through with you.
At this point you're prepred – you know something about the potential client, you have an outline or agenda for the meeting now lets take a look at how to actually walk a client through the discovery meeting and go over some sample wording that you might use.
Key 2: Get Into The Mindset For Success
Before we jump right into the actual meeting just a couple of words of advice here from a seasoned lady like myself.
You're mindset is a critical component of your success - if its not right you will struggle to get through these sometime challenging and draining situations.
Take a listen to the mindset for success episode for some insight on hoe to develop and maintain the right mindset for sales meetings.
With all of that squared away, lets walkthrough how you might lead the meeting and some key insights on what to say and not say in the individual sections of the agenda.
Key 3: Build Trust Through Asking and Listening: How To Lead The Meeting
Buying decisions are made based on emotions, emotions are formed with relationships and relationships are born from trust. It is imperative that you build that trust in this initial conversation.
Important reminder: The most important parts of the actual meeting are asking the right questions and actively listening empathetically with your mind and heart.
This means that not only should you be asking powerful questions; but you listen actively to them. You aren’t waiting to talk, but rather you are in the moment with your potential buyer and relating to them on an emotional level.
Here is a breakdown of the flow with some sample language:
1. Open the conversation (5-10 minutes max)
Take a few moments to introduce yourself and everyone in the meeting. Gert a sense of their roles and where they fit into the team, if it’s a group.
Limit your small talk, skip small talk that is irrelevant such as the weather or weekend plans. Remember there is limited time available, you have an objective and they agreed to meet with you to discuss the opportunity.
Always keep the small talk positive to get started on the right foot. No complaining about the heat or the traffic.
B. Confirm time and agenda – gain micro-commitment
Before you get started, you’ll want to be sure that nothing has changed with the timeframe for the meeting.
· We have 30 minutes scheduled for this meeting does that still work for you?
You should also reconfirm the purpose of the meeting. This will give you an opportunity to iron out any misunderstanding that might exist, give the buyer a heads up on what’s to come and build a conversation.
It might sound something like this:
· In our time together today, I’d like to give you a little background on our company and how we help companies/people like you, learn a little bit more about you/your company and how you’re doing in these areas an see if it makes sense to continue our discussions.
C. Gain agreement to move forward (micro-commitment)
It seems small, but this is a critical step in the process. Giving the person that you’re speaking to a chance to voice their opinion on what’s to come increases their trust in you and sets you apart from a pushy, selfish sales person who is going to move forward with their own agenda regardless of how the other person feels.
You’re essentially bringing the other person along with you rather than dragging them through something that they didn’t choose to participate it.
A micro-commitment will also continue to help prime the buyer’s psychological responses so that when it comes time for your ask, they will be accustomed to making a decision with you.
It’s simple to gain this commitment. Try something like:
- Does that make sense?
And then follow-up with:
- Is there anything else that you would like to get out of today’s meeting or anything else that you would like to cover?
2. Lead the discussion (40—45 minutes, this is where you’ll spend the bulk of your time)
A. Give a brief overview of your value proposition
This is where you will give an overview of the what and the why of what you do. You want to keep this brief and do not go into your product offering, feature benefits or anything else related to your offer. The purpose is to set the stage for the dialogue.
- As I mentioned earlier, I work with small businesses and female solopreneurs to develop growth strategies, develop critical sales skills and scale businesses. My mission is to ensure that more female led businesses are profitable and successful. I recently worked with a client similar to you …. enter specific example and results.
B. Transition to discovery conversation
Once you’ve given a brief overview of you and given a sample of the type of work that you do and sample results, you need to transition the conversation to the most important section of the meeting – the discovery conversation. This is where you get to leverage your power questions and knowledge to better understand the unique situation of the buyer and build relationship and trust.
Remember this is NOT an interrogation, your goal is not to check off all of the questions on your list. This is a conversation meant to explore the potential opportunity that may or may not exist with this buyer.
If you are prepared with insightful questions your buyer will be impressed by your preparation and insights. Be prepared for some potential silence and discomfort as many buyers aren’t used this type of buying process – the silence is a GOOD thing.
To transition to the discovery section of the conversation, you can say something like this:
- The most important thing is to make sure this makes sense for you. In preparing for today’s meeting I noticed that ….. finish with something from your fact finding and then ask your first power question.
3. The Next Step Ask
Time can fly by when you’re in a great conversation and building a relationship. That’s why it’s important to watch the clock – be sensitive to their time and wrap up the meeting with 15 minutes or so left in an hour meeting, 10 minutes for a half hour.
This is the part of the sales conversation that tends to make women very anxious. But it doesn’t have to be scary.
A few pointers:
- Remember that you are coming from a place of service and integrity.
- You have built an understanding of the need.
- Continue to focus on the buyer not yourself.
If you’ve laid the groundwork of trust and understanding, and if there is a mutual fit – the asking portion of the conversation should feel like a natural continuation of the relationship.
If you don’t think there is a good fit between the two of you, now is the time be honest about that and gracefully decline a continuation. Whenever possible try to refer them to someone that you believe can help them.
A: Summarize What You’ve Heard & Ask For Agreement
To transition to the ask start by summarizing what you have heard from them in terms of critical pain points, challenges or needs and the value of solving for those.
Be sure to emphasize.
Do not pitch here, no need to go on a tangent losing all of your features and benefits. Unless the buyer asks you questions about your service or offering. If they do that’s a potential buying signal and you want to address that.
To transition to the ask you’ll want to be prepared with your primary and secondary asks. You might say something as simple as:
- A usual next step for this type of project is ….
- After learning more about you, I am excited because I know we can solve this together. In this situation, my clients typically work with me 1x1 for 3 months. If it makes sense, Ill map out what those 3 months would look like and we can get back together in a few days to discuss the plan. I have open time on Monday or Tuesday is there a day that works better?”
Or if asking for the business:
- After learning more about you/your goals/challenges/etc. there seems to be a great synergy between us. How can I be of service to you going forward?
- “I would love to help you with this after learning more about you, I am excited because I know we can solve this together. When would you like to start?
- When do we begin?
The key here is to not make a big deal out of this. It’s not “closing” or “selling” it’s a natural progression of a conversation where you are trying to help someone.
The best way to get comfortable with this is to actually do it, many times.
This is a psychological principal referred to as the confidence, competence loop. The more that you do something the more competent you become, which in turn makes you more confident. It’s like a confidence snowball.
Find your own way of asking. Practice with others and practice by doing. There is no substitute.
Key 4: Follow-Up
No overview of a sales call would be complete without stressing the importance of following up.
You have spent all of this time preparing and building a relationship and trust with your potential customer.
If you don’t follow-up with them, uphold the commitments that you have made to them or otherwise go against your word – it is all instantly lost.
People get busy. They forget. Your priorities are not theirs.
Be one of the minority of people who follow-up. Because the old saying is true, “The fortune is in the follow-up.”
Follow the process above, ask questions, show empathy, follow-up and you’ll set yourself apart from 90% of others out there, in a good way.
Lastly, here are some additional suggestions to make the potential buyers experience working with you during the buying process unforgettable and to elevate you above anyone else out there:
- Consider sending a personal video thank you
- Snail mail a handwritten thank you note
- Consider a thank you package
- Actively leverage social proof and your raving fans to show your value instead of telling
You have a unique and life changing offering for the world. Don’t be afraid to call attention to it, value it and present it to those who can benefit from it.
Be sure to grab your free workbook and discovery call planner here. You'll be be prepared, comfortable and oh so very successful - I know it!
Wishing you the best because it’s what you deserve!