Why New Client Discovery Calls Are A Must-Have Step

desk with laptop pens pink post-its and cell phone

The Relevance of “Discovery Calls”

Recently, a designer in a community group I belong to said someone told her to stop referring to the initial call with a prospective client as a “discovery call” since most customers don’t know the real meaning behind this call.  She was wondering if there was another phrase she could use on her website that would convey to prospects the purpose of the call.  This got me thinking about why we in the industry, and sales in general, perform discovery calls.  Who is responsible for holding that call?  When should this call be completed?  Why should we have one and how is it held?  Perfectly good questions.

 “Discovery Call” Basics

Whether your leads, or prospective clients, are finding you through your website, social media or local publications, a “discovery call” should be made.  It should be made by YOU, the business owner, since you are responsible for the client experience.  If you have someone on staff that is capable of performing this part, you are off to a great start!

First, and foremost, it should be scheduled within 24 hours of obtaining the lead.  The longer your prospective client sits in the queue waiting on a return call, the more they get to thinking of contacting someone who will return that call.  Don’t leave money on the table!! 

Why We Do This

A “discovery call” is your opportunity to determine if you and your prospective client will be a good fit.  It shows the prospective client’s commitment to you and their project if they are willing to schedule the call.  It is also meant to determine pain points, goals, and priorities the clients may have for their project.  It eliminates the “tire kickers” that are just looking for free advice, or purchasing based on price and not the value you bring to the project with your knowledge and experience.

In my recent blog, I shared this as one of the areas to begin client education.  The education you are providing involves your process and your services.  The client should be made aware, up front, what the purpose of your call is.  You want to get as much information from them that will help you determine if their goals are realistic.  According to this Marc Wayshak article, 50% of your prospects are not the right fit for what you sell.  FIFTY PERCENT!!  This is why a “discovery call” process is important.

What The Process Looks Like

In my years of selling kitchen and bath remodels at the big box home improvement store, I learned I needed to have a process.  The beauty of corporate structure is that you learn some pretty good lessons in sales and processes.  Some of those processes were taught and some, I learned by trial and error…lots of trial and error.  I also learned to set expectations, early on, during the call.  So, what does this “discovery call” process look like?  

Key Process Steps
  1.  Scheduled call for a minimum 30-45 minutes–you need this time to determine what the client’s pain points are and how you can help them.  You cannot do this in less than 30 minutes.
  2.  Qualifying questionnaire or script on hand–have all your qualifying questions written down.  Don’t “wing” this part.  Remember, answers to these questions will help determine if you’ll move forward with next steps. Don’t have a qualifying questionnaire?  Download your freebie here
  3.  A quiet and relaxed space, free of distractions–so important.  You cannot have your head “in the game” if your attention is in 15 different places.  This is the reason for blocking out time on your calendar.  Respect your time and your prospective client’s time by being fully in the moment.  You don’t want to miss any cues in the conversation that could be detrimental.
  4.  Your appointment calendar on hand–During my years in sales, I learned the importance of capturing commitment from the client when they are standing in front of you.  Gives them less opportunity to think or go elsewhere.  In this case, when they’ve agreed to your fees and your process, capture the next appointment right then and there.
  5. Services and Fees follow-up PDF–don’t overwhelm your prospect on this call.  Let them know you’ll send a follow-up email with a PDF outlining your process, services and fees associated with your work, agreements you will enter into with them, etc.
The End Result

At the end of the day, what we all want, is to work with clients that respect our time, our experience and our expertise.  The end goal is to partner with your clients to create beautiful and functional dream spaces.  If we skip this step, we are doing nothing more than spinning wheels and spending a ton of time putting together proposals for clients that will not appreciate the value of what we bring to the table.  Even worse, skipping this step will lead you, and your client, down the road of “bad customer experiences”.  Respect yourself, your business and your clients.  Qualify those leads!!

Would you like to trust a staff member to perform these calls but don’t have the processes in place to do that?  I get it!  I’ve been on your end, trusting others to generate leads for more business!  It’s tough to trust when you don’t know what the experience levels are in the staff members around you!  But, it doesn’t have to be hard to delegate!  All you need are some processes in place and a script.  Let’s get on a call together and I’ll help you develop those processes….and your script!


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