A discovery call is critically important for two reasons. It helps the client share their concerns, problems, and needs. Also, a discovery call helps the consultant or freelancer assess if they are a good fit to work with the client.
You will work with more great clients by running a discovery call effectively. You will also be able to save time on your client onboarding process.
This blog will walk you through how you can prepare for a discovery call, questions to ask during cal, Checklist and Tools to ensure you’re prepared for your next discovery call.
This guide to a successful discovery call for freelancers and consultants cover:
1. What is a discovery call?
A discovery call is a conversation that happens pretty early in the sales process with a consultant. For example, a potential client may read an article written by a consultant and then reach out to seek advice. At that point, the consultant will arrange a discovery call.
A discovery call gives each person the opportunity to learn about each other. The client gets an opportunity to share their goals, and the consultant can determine if the client is a good fit. For instance, a life coach specializing in fitness and weight loss might decide that they only want to work with high achieving professionals with a body mass index between 25 to 29.9 (i.e., overweight but not obese). The consultant can determine if the client is a good match during the discovery call process.
In brief, a discovery call is the business equivalent of a ‘first date’ where each person learns about the other and decides if it makes sense to work together.
2. How do I prepare for a discovery call?
Preparing for a discovery call depends on your business and sales process. Consider the case of an inbound lead asking an executive coach for advice. Second, we will consider a website designer who has used an outbound sales process.
Before you get on a call with a prospect, taking some time to get prepared is intelligent. Remember, the discovery call is an opportunity to make a positive first impression on the client. Use the following questions to get ready for the call.
Q1: Do I have the prospect’s name, phone number, and email address?
Don’t assume that the prospect will call you at your appointment.
Q2: Do I have a quiet place to hold the sales call?
You may find it helpful to pay for a coworking space to have a quiet and professional space to have calls with clients.
Q3: Do I look professional and presentable?
This point is especially important if you have a video conference call. However, dressing professionally for
a traditional phone call is often worthwhile because it helps you get into a professional mindset for the call.
Q4: What do I already know about the prospect?
For example, the prospect may have contacted you through social media. In that case, looking at the prospect’s online profiles for a few minutes can give you a good sense of their priorities.
Q5: Do I have my discovery call script ready?
In this post, you will learn powerful questions to ask on your discovery call. Pick and choose the questions that suit your needs and have them ready.
Q6: Am I prepared to take notes?
You are going to ask a lot of questions
Q7: Do I have my calendar available?
You will want to have a follow-up call after the initial discovery call in many situations. Having your calendar open means, you can schedule the next meeting before you finish the discovery call.
Finally, make sure you are ready to focus on the conversation. A discovery call is not the time to attempt multi-tasking. For a discovery call to succeed, focusing and listening deeply to your potential client is crucial.
3. Questions to ask during a discovery call.
The specific questions you ask during a discovery call depend on several factors. For example, there is a significant difference between an inbound lead and an outbound lead. In addition, a consultant focused on business clients might take a different approach than a coach focused on solving personal problems. Since the inbound vs. outbound distinction is so significant, we’ll explore this issue in detail below.
3.1. Discovery call template for an inbound lead
An inbound lead is a potential customer who finds your company through a video, article, podcast, or other media and contacts you. The advantage of an inbound lead is that the person is already familiar with you. As a result, you will probably not have to spend much time explaining your value proposition to the prospect.
The downside of an inbound lead is that the person might not be a good fit for your business. For example, you might have created a guide to help accountants get more clients. You may define your ideal client as a partner in a small accounting firm with $500,000 to $5 million in annual revenue. Unfortunately, your marketing may attract various accountants, including those unable to afford your services.
In this scenario, your discovery call may include the following questions:
Q1: What prompted you to contact me?
Q2: Have you read or viewed any of my content? (The type of content that the prospect has viewed or consumed may give you hints about their specific interests and help you to ask more tailored questions during the discovery call).
Q3: Tell me about your business. (Depending on what you learn from this question, you may need to understand better the size of the prospect’s business and their role in the company).
Q4: What are your growth goals for the coming year?
Q5: What steps are you currently taking to grow your business revenue? (If a client has taken little or no action to grow their company, you might decide that they are not a good fit for your services).
Q6: Would you like to hear more about the coaching and consulting services I offer?
Q7: Are you interested in setting up a follow-up call to explore your needs further? (Only ask this question if the prospect sounds like a good fit for your business).
3.2. Discovery Call For Template An Outbound Lead
With an outbound lead, the consultant usually already knows a fair amount of information about the prospect. For example, the website designer might have qualified the prospect by checking several factors like the website’s overall traffic level, online advertising, and the platform. A designer might choose to work with Shopify websites selling clothing with at least 100,000 visitors per month and active Google Ads.
With an outbound lead, you may have gathered information about the person. However, online research has its limitations. Therefore, it is wise to validate further the information you’ve gathered and further explore the prospect’s situation.
With an outbound lead, start with these questions to validate your research.
Q1: What prompted you to book a call today?
Q2: Can you tell me more about your role at the company? (If the prospect responds with minimal information, i.e., “I’m the marketing manager”, then you may need to encourage them to speak further and discuss their responsibilities).
Q3: My research looks like your website uses Shopify and has 100,000 visitors per month. Is that up to date? (By stating that you have completed some preliminary research on the prospect, you demonstrate that you care. At the same time, you’re also giving the prospect the chance to fill in any gaps in your knowledge and provide further context).
Q4: I typically help clients grow revenue through email marketing. What is your approach to email marketing? (Ideally, the client is already actively using email marketing even if they are not getting the desired results. If the person you are speaking with cannot answer the question in meaningful detail, you might need to speak with somebody else at the company).
Once you address these questions, you can ask additional questions about the person’s goals, struggles, and what they are looking for.
4. The complete checklist for a discovery call.
A discovery call is a vitally important part of the sales process. Since you only have one chance to make a first impression, use the following before, during, and after checklist to have successful discovery calls.
4.1. Before The Discovery Call
- What do I know about the prospect? (e.g., name, website, other details)
- Do I have the prospect’s contact information if I need to call them?
- Do I have my discovery call questions ready to go?
- (If possible) Have I reviewed the questions or information that the prospect sent before the call?
- Do I have a quiet place to take the discovery call?
- (If applicable) Do I have at least 5 minutes between this call and my next appointment? (Giving yourself a few minutes after the call ends makes it easier to act on any follow-up tasks before you forget).
4.2. During The Discovery Call
- Did I focus on asking open-ended questions?
- Am I taking notes of what the prospect told me during the call?
- What mood was the prospect in?
- Did I take the opportunity to introduce how my business may be able to help the prospect?
4.3. After The Discovery Call
- Is the prospect a good fit for my business?
- If the person is not a good fit, can I recommend an alternative option? (Taking the effort to provide 1-to two specific suggestions for a person that is not a good prospect is smart. That person will be more likely to think positively about you and may refer other people to your business in the future).
- Is there a clear next step in the sales process? (Your next step might be to transition the prospect to your client onboarding process).
- Did the prospect have any questions or concerns that I need to respond to? (Review your notes for a few minutes to see if you miss anything).
5. Tools to use for discovery calls.
You can use a few different tools to run discovery calls effectively. We’ll start with the basic options and then introduce some more advanced tools that can make the discovery calls even more efficient.
5.1. Essential tools for discovery calls
Whether money is tight or you just prefer to keep life simple, these tools are the minimum you need to run your calls.
Skype is a highly affordable digital phone service. For a low monthly fee, you can make unlimited calls. It is wise to use a service like Skype to keep business calls separate from your personal phone. You can also make video calls.
- Word Processor or Notebook
You need a simple way to make notes during the call. We recommend creating a template in Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Once you create a template of your favorite questions, it is easier to prepare for each discovery call. Some people prefer to use a paper notebook because a notebook does not have any digital distractions.
You might already be familiar with CheckYa as a tool to send invoices and receive payments from clients. You can also use CheckYa to schedule calls with clients.
5.2. Advanced tools for discovery calls
Use these tools to scale up your business as you manage more and more discovery calls, project calls, and other client interactions.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
If you only have one or two discovery calls per week, a CRM may not make sense. As your business grows, staying organized with your different clients and potential clients may be more challenging. A CRM like Pipedrive can make it easier to store all of your notes, next steps, and sales activities in one place.
- Call recording and transcription
Do you find it stressful to take detailed notes during a business call? In that case, you might find it helpful to use a call recording or transcription service like Otter.ai or Rev. Using these services means you don’t have to worry about missing an important detail. Before you record a call, make sure you ask your prospect.
6. How to schedule calls and get paid easily?
Constantly switching between different business tools is frustrating. To simplify your business life, use CheckYa to schedule your discovery calls. Once you agree to work with a client, you can use CheckYa again to send invoices to your new client. Click here to sign up for CheckYa.