How to Manage a Discovery Call


A discovery call can be one of the most valuable tools in your business.  And the work for all types of businesses, coaching, education, service, consulting – that’s because the purpose (at base) of a discovery call is to find out if you and your services are a good fit to solve the client’s problem.  But, and this is often overlooked, but is equally important – is the client a good fit for you.

A discovery call is an exploration – hence the name.  Who are they, what are they concerned about, how can you help.

So, during this episode, we’re going to go step by step through what you should ask during a discovery call, to get the valuable information you need to make the right choice.

Start out by thanking them for their time (there’s nothing wrong with being polite), and ask how they found out about you.  Don’t forget this point because it is helpful in pointing you in the direction of which of your marketing efforts are working and how well they might be doing.  So, always ask.  And besides, if they are a referral, that’s good information for you to have too.

Now, it’s important that you set the tone of the call.  Take charge (gently); outline the goals of the meeting and give an overview of the agenda.  Let them know you’re anticipating the meeting will be x minutes long (no matter what you do, don’t allow yourself to get stuck in an hours long dissertation on every grievance they may have).  Tell them you’re going to ask a few questions about their organization and any challenges they’re facing, and you’ll tell them a bit about your company and how you could help, and then take it from there.

Start with the vitals – what are the details of their company.  How many employees, how long have they been around, where are they located, how many locations do they have.  What solutions have they used before.  What did they like or not like about those solutions.

You’re trying to get all the background information you can, so you have a foundation to work from.  I suggest you put the detail related questions that make sense for your business, in a checklist.  Then always use the checklist – that way you won’t forget anything when you’re on the call.

Now, for the next part you’re going to use open-ended questions about their current challenges and obstacles.  What are they struggling with.  What ultimate goal are they trying to reach – what does success look like.  What is or has been standing in the way of them reaching that goal.  How did this concern come to their attention.

You see, these questions can help you get to the heart of what is bothering them.  And don’t just relegate your questions to facts, try to get at how they feel.  “does that make you feel like there isn’t an answer?”; “how did you feel when the solutions didn’t work”.

Without getting deeply into sales psychology, just remember that you have to access the emotional part of their brain to make a successful sale.  Sure, part of it all is what they think, but the biggest part is how they feel.  How they feel about the problem, and how you can make them feel about your solution.

don’t just relegate your questions to facts, try to get at how they feel.  “does that make you feel like there isn’t an answer?”; “how did you feel when the solutions didn’t work”

Now that you know what’s setting their hair on fire, it’s time to talk about the solutions you can bring to the table.  And don’t just rattle off a list of features or products.  Show that you actually heard what they were telling you, by relating specific solutions to specific problems they are facing.  Give examples of how your solution solved the same problem for another client.  Be specific and relate everything back to solving their problem.  Because, actually no one cares about what we all do for a living – they only care about how we can make their day better.

Next up, you need some details on how they envision the process unfolding.  Are they vetting other providers, where are they in that process – beginning, middle or are they at the end of the process.  What do they anticipate to be the timing, would they want to engage someone next week, next month or next quarter.

And finally, what is their budget.  Now I know this one is a hot topic – but you have to at least ask.  And you can absolutely believe they are going to ask you about pricing.

Now there are different schools of thought around pricing.  Some gurus say never mention price during the discovery call – others say never send a proposal with prices, only deliver them when you can be present to walk the client through the items.

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For me – I say do what you feel is right for you and your business.  For Idomeneo, I generally like to send a proposal with the fees outlined, following the discovery call.  I’m not keen on giving a price on the phone because I want to review all the details of the discovery call before we put the fees together.

But yes, I absolutely do include our fees in the proposal.

I don’t want the prospect to feel like we’re playing some sort of sales game with them.  I know they need the numbers, and I know it will be part of their decision making process.  So, I just put it out there.

Now another important point for entrepreneurs.  Don’t negotiate against yourself!

If you’re anything like me, before you even put the numbers in the proposal, you start second guessing yourself.

Listen, your service is worth what you said it is worth.  Price your services fairly, and then put your numbers out there without hesitation.  Worst case scenario – they won’t select you because they’ll think you’re charging too much.  Well, provided you’re charging reasonable, market informed fees – then let them go.  They would end up being the client that nickeled and dimed you to death anyway.  They aren’t the client for you.

And best case scenario, they’ll engage you on the spot.

But honestly, most times it’s someplace in the middle – it will spark a discussion; and that’s a good thing too.

And finally, end the call by locking down the next steps.  Is there someone else you should meet with, are you sending a proposal, what happens next.

If you use this framework, you’re sure to have a productive discovery call, every time.

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