Posted: Wed 18th Oct 2023
A discovery call is arguably one of the most important parts of the sales process. It's the first conversation you’re likely to have with a prospective client, and the perfect opportunity to uncover a buyer's needs and goals.
It's also a chance for you to start building trust – and to discover if there's a potential fit for a business relationship.
If you're an adviser on Enterprise Nation, members of the community can request a discovery call with you at any time to find out more about the expertise or services you offer. This first call can set the tone for the rest of the relationship, so it's important that you leave a strong first impression.
With so much at stake, it's vital that you cover all bases. Here's your guide to a successful discovery call.
Do your homework
This may sound like an obvious place to start. But discovery calls require work before you even pick up the phone. How well you commit to this first call is very telling of the way in which you commit to your customers in general, so learn as much as you can about them ahead of time.
look at their website
browse their social media channels
research their career history on LinkedIn, or
simply ask them a few preliminary questions via email to get a general understanding of what their values or goals might be
Doing your homework at this stage will greatly increase your chances of converting your prospect. Discovery calls typically have a 60% to 70% conversion rate, as your prospective client has already shown an interest in your services and instigated that call. So do your research and draw as much information out of them as you can ahead of the call.
Some things to consider:
Have you worked with similar customers or industries before? If so, have a case study to hand.
Is your prospect currently using one of your competitors? Research them, and prepare some well-meaning comparisons ahead of the call.
Building rapport is critical to establishing a relationship, so look out for some conversation starters. Shared personal interests, achievements or even location can be great ways to break the ice.
Set a clear agenda
Once you've broken the ice, you should set an agenda for the call, outlining what's about to happen. By doing this, your prospect will feel that you're respecting their time and that you've prepared for the call. It also helps you take control of the conversation and manage their expectations.
Business coach Catrin MacDonnell is well-versed in the art of discovery calls:
"As an adviser, I really want to help business owners make the most of these calls, be clear on what to expect, and to understand that this is a chance to assess whether or not I have the knowledge or skills that they're looking for."
A few suggestions:
Introduce yourself, your company, and your role in the company.
Confirm the duration of the call (we recommend 30 minutes).
Share the goals of the meeting.
Let your prospect know that the call is purely informational to make sure you’re a good fit for one other.
Allow plenty of time for your prospect to ask questions. A client who goes away with unanswered questions is unlikely to come back.
You should now be on friendly terms with the prospect, so it's time to get down to business.
If you've done your homework, you'll already have a basic understanding of them and their company. Next, you'll want to ask questions that will determine if you and the buyer are a good match – and if there's a potential sales opportunity.
This stage is about gathering more detailed information. It shouldn't be about questions whose answers you could find on the internet.
Some qualifying questions you may want to ask:
What are your goals and when do you need to achieve them?
What problem are you trying to solve?
Why is this a priority today and is there a reason why you haven't addressed it before?
What would a successful outcome look like for you?
Do you have a plan B for achieving this goal?
It's just as important to disqualify the prospect as it is to qualify them. That way, you don't waste your time. Not everyone who books a discovery call is going to be a good fit, so if you don't think they are, don't attempt to sell them anything.
Evaluating whether your prospect is a good match
Here are a few questions you really ought to be asking:
What's your timeline for implementation?
What's the budget for solving this problem, and where is it coming from?
Are you the person responsible for making decisions within your organisation?
Are there any obstacles or roadblocks that could get in the way of this work?
Establish next steps
You should now have a good idea of what the prospect needs, if you can provide a solution for them, and if they're an ideal customer for you. You may also have a sense of their level of urgency to buy from you.
Either way, don't end your call without agreeing on the next steps. There should be no question about what the prospect (or you) should do to move the relationship forward.
If you think you need a second call, compare calendars in the moment. Or, if you feel you've gathered all the information you need to put together a proposal, commit to a timeframe and let them know when they should expect to hear from you.
Digital marketing consultant Arthur Wilson understands the importance of this stage of the journey:
"This is where the freelancer or service provider should create a tailored proposal that takes into account everything they've learnt both before and during the discovery call. The proposal should set out how they plan to meet their prospect's objectives, expected timeframes, and monthly deliverables."
Don't be afraid to give a little
Is it true that the more you put in, the more you get out? We think so. Enterprise Nation advisers often find that entrepreneurs who are looking to build a business will remember those who have helped them along the way.
They may not convert to paying clients immediately, but there's a chance they might in the future. At the very least, they'll become advocates for your company and recommend you to their network.
Of course, it can be tricky to find a balance between offering a few nuggets of advice and simply giving away your expertise. But giving a little can really pay off in the long term.
Grant funding adviser Robert Flood suggests sending your prospect some relevant content after the discovery call as a way to distinguish yourself from the competition and to remain at the forefront of your prospect's mind.
E-commerce expert Karen Riddick agrees that this generosity can be beneficial:
"Most of my discovery calls on Enterprise Nation have been with members who are looking to start or grow online businesses. I'm happy to answer questions or help troubleshoot issues, as well as give some general tips and advice."
If you’re an Enterprise Nation adviser member, take a moment to refresh your services to make sure members choose you for their next discovery call.
If you’re not yet an adviser member but would like to promote your services on Enterprise Nation, find out more and sign up.