I must have done well over 30 discovery calls before I actually got a client. It was a long and often discouraging process, let me tell you! Now, I've done hundreds and I've developed a process that gets me more clients and feels so much better too because it approaches the call from a 'client first' basis rather than the mindset of 'how do I make the sale'.
I've created a FREE Discovery Call Script that accompanies the guide below, giving you word for word scripting you can use for your own calls. Grab your copy now - I'll wait!
Ok - let's get started!
1) Before the discovery call
Yep, the success of failure of your discovery call is actually largely determined before the call itself even begins! Here's what I mean...
DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP!!!
If you want your discovery calls to be successful then you need to make sure you're bringing the right people on to them in the first place. That is - potential buyers.
There are 2 main ways you can do this:
Be really clear who your ideal clients are so that they can self-identify from your content - whether that's on your website, your socials or anywhere else for that matter.
Get really specific on the result you help with so you're attracting people who want help with that result. Sounds obvious - but a lot of people aren't doing this.
Your pre-call questions
Before someone can book a call with you, get them to complete a short questionnaire so that you can sense-check they're actually a potential buyer. Figure out what the important qualifiers are for your service - for example, do they need to be a certain age-range or skill-level in order for your service to be appropriate? Another really useful question to include would be one around their ability to invest both time and money. This helps to filter out the 'tyre-kickers' before the call.
Now, this step is optional. I've done both - and currently, I don't do any research and just get the core information I need from my qualification questions that people must complete before booking a call.
The benefit of doing your research is that it gives you more information on your client going into the call.
The downside is - this can lead to you making assumptions and those can be dangerous!
2) discovery call opening
The start of your discovery call is important. This sets the scene and is where your potential client will make their first impressions. Without a plan, it can be easy for the entire call to be de-railed in these first few minutes. Here's how to avoid that!
small talk (2-3 mins)
If you're still fairly inexperienced when it comes to doing discovery calls, then it's natural to feel quite nervous beforehand. Actually, scrap that - I've done hundreds of the things and I still get nervous! Anyhoo - my point is, when we're feeling nervous, we can forget that our potential client is probably feeling pretty anxious too!
Start your call with just a couple of minutes of light chit-chat to help put them (and you) at ease.
Set expectations (1 min)
Once the small talk is done, take a moment to lay out how you are going to structure your call. This serves two really important purposes:
- It puts your potential client at ease because the unknown is a bit scary.
- It gives you control of the call so there is less risk of it being de-railed by an unexpected turn in conversation.
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3) discovery phase
Well it's called a 'discovery call' for a reason! People often (mistakenly imo) think that discovery calls are just about selling - but it's actually about you both making a decision as to whether your service is going to be a good fit.
You want to work with great-fit clients because these are the people you can get best results.
They want to make a wise investment that will support them to reach their desired outcome.
This is your opportunity to find out what success looks like to your potential client. In order to ensure your service is a good fit, you need to know that the results your prospect is looking for are the results your service delivers!
'What does success look like' can be quite a tricky question to answer for some people so I like to give a timescale to help make it a bit more tangible. I might say, 'Where do you want your business to be in 12 months time?' or 'what would your business need to look like in 12 months for it to feel like a success?'
The key in the discovery phase is to let the other person do 90% of the talking. If they're looking a bit stuck you can ask some questions to help prompt them, but other than that, you just need to listen!
You may find you need to do some digging to really get to the root of someone's goals. For example, I might have someone tell me that success for them would be launching a group programme.
My job is to find out why, so I might ask something like 'what would launching a group programme mean for you?'
Then I'll get answers like:
More consistent income
Reaching 5k months
Not having to go back to my 9-5
Not stressing about money
Proving to myself that I can make a success of my business
That's more like it!
Ok - now you know where they want to be (and why), it's time to figure out what's currently slowing them down. And more importantly - are these the things that your service can provide a solution for?
You have hopefully developed a service which addresses your ideal clients' core challenges, so more often than not, you should be identifying the kind of gaps your service fills. Hurrah!
I find it helpful to ask questions which specifically uncover what's going on in the areas that I know my service helps with. For example, my ideal clients' have the goal of fully booking a high ticket service so they can reach 5k months in the next year. The key challenges they tend to face with this are:
- Lack of confidence when it comes to selling and delivering a high ticket offer
- Generating consistent leads for their offer
- Having a values-led, but still effective sales process so they can fill their service consistently
So I make sure that my service addresses each of these problems in order that my clients can develop and fill their offer and reach their desired income goal.
In a discovery call, I'll ask questions like 'how many leads do you normally get each month?' or 'tell me about your sales process' because these questions show me whether the person needs support with the things my service helps with.
This is a small but SUPER IMPORTANT step in the process. Don't be tempted to skip it.
At the end of both the goal and gap stages of the discovery phase, you're going to check-in with your potential client to make sure they've mentioned everything they want to - and then you're going to summarise their goals and their gaps back to them.
It sounds unimportant - but there is something REALLY powerful about having your situation summarised in this way. If gives your prospect a huge amount of clarity and feel like a breakthrough moment for them.
Plus of course, it helps you to make sure you haven't missed or misunderstood anything.
By now you should have a pretty good idea of whether this person is a great fit or not for your service.
If they're not, let them know and where appropriate, refer them to someone who you feel would serve them better.
If they are, let them know and get permission to share more information about your service. This permission is really key. By this point your potential client will also have a good idea as to whether you're someone they'd be interested to work with - don't waste both your times by ploughing into a sales pitch without checking they actually want to know more.
free discovery call script!
4) sales phase
This is the part where you may start to feel the nerves set in. You'll want to rush through, but instead, try to consciously slow down. You're here because by now both you AND your potential client have decided that your service could be a great fit for them.
Speak to the value of your service first - that means the results it helps with and the problems it solves. Go back to the core goal your potential client identified and explain that your service is designed to help people achieve this goal.
Pick out the key challenges or gaps your prospect has and briefly explain how your service will help them to overcome these.
Before moving on to the next stage, check in to make sure they're happy with everything you've told them and whether they have any questions.
Once you've shared the value of your service and you've checked in that your potential client is happy with what you've said, ask them if they'd like to hear more about the logistics.
Yes - get permission again. You don't want to be selling to someone who doesn't want to be sold to at any stage of this process.
When they say yes, you can go ahead and share all the key info such as how long it is, number of sessions etc. etc.
Before sharing the price, check in again - 'all make sense?' and find out if there are any questions. At this stage, it's highly likely, they'll ask you the price.
Say the price. Let them know any payment plans.
Then SHUT UP.
The temptation here is to go into justification mode which never looks good.
OR you just keep rambling and before you know it, you've offered them a 50% discount and they haven't even said anything!
So, keep quiet and let them have a moment. Some people may need one - others won't.
5) making a decision
At this point you want to partner with your potential client in helping them to make the best decision for them. This doesn't mean bullying or pressurising someone - but it also doesn't mean completely removing yourself from the process.
Objection handling has a bit of a bad rep, with many people associating it with less than ethical marketing practices. However, I believe it's an important part of the sales process - but that it can (and should) be done with empathy and with the client's needs in mind.
Making a big investment is scary - be there to chat through any reservations, fears and questions the person may have. Where possible, offer options they may not have thought of (eg. using savings, payment plans etc).
You may find the 'Feel, felt, found' model useful here.
close the loop
There is some sales advice out there that tells you to get a decision on the call no matter what. The reason for this is that the longer the person has to consider and feel their fears, the more likely they are to say no.
This feels icky to me. And impractical.
Some people need longer to make this kind of decision - and that's ok, because as we've established, it's a SCARY decision. Other's might need to check with a partner or look into payment options etc.
The mistake I don't want you to make is to just leave the decision open with a kind of 'let me know when you decide' kind of ending to the call.
This allows your potential client to drift, procrastinate and creates a really frustrating situation for you where you're having to hang on and just wait for their response. It's torture - I've been there!
So instead, do this: If your client needs time to decide, then suggest a follow-up call and get something in the calendar on the call. That way, you have a cut-off date for the decision to be made.