Most businesses offer a discovery call of some kind as an introduction to new connections. It’s the perfect way to start a conversation and build on the sales journey for your ideal client.
Although discovery calls are a powerful strategy, not everyone knows how to handle them effectively to impact their business directly.
Perhaps you struggle with what to say on a call or don’t feel in control. Maybe you worry that the person on the other end will reject you. Or you avoid offering discovery calls because you have no idea how to finish and ask for the sale.
If you can relate to any of these, then fear not; there is a way to build your confidence, get the right balance on each call, and stay focused.
How to effectively handle discovery calls with calm, confidence, and ease.
Zoom has become the go-to platform for most of our business interactions these days, although you can’t deny the power of a face-to-face meeting. Some companies still prefer to do their discovery calls over the phone, and this is fine too. How you deliver your calls is up to you.
What is important when offering discovery calls is how you plan, execute, and feel confident in what happens next, after the call has ended.
You can make a difference immediately with the language you use. I refer to my discovery calls as a virtual cuppa because that’s the feeling I want to create like you’re having coffee with a friend. Your mindset plays a huge role in effectively handling sales calls. Fear can stop us from rational thought if we let it, so switching your mindset from ‘I need to make a sale’ to ‘let’s have a chat over coffee’ reduces anxiety. We are winning already!
Clarity – when planning your calls, it’s vital to be clear on the reason for each conversation. Are you providing a service, or is it just a general chat, or has the client expressed an interest in something specific? Qualify your call by recognising the reason behind it. You really want to be spending your time on productive discovery calls and so clarification is really important. This leads us nicely on to planning, but in a smart way.
Planning – How can you get the right outcome from your discovery calls? I’m glad you asked. You will hear me talk about stepping into your client’s world all the time. You need to understand who they are, what they like, why they need your services or products, and how to help them.
70% of buyers fully define their needs on their own before engaging with a sales representative, and 44% identify specific solutions before reaching out to a seller (source: CSO Insights) – which means your ideal client has actually been following you already as mentioned above, or they have been on Google to do a spot of research before getting in touch!
It’s now up to you to find out how much research they’ve done, what they think they need, and how to fill in the gaps to provide them with the right solution.
You are the expert in what you do. The discovery call is where you ask the right questions to determine what your ideal client really needs from you.
To effectively handle discovery calls with calm, confidence, and ease, you need to plan.
The golden ticket is to ask great questions. By that, I mean asking the questions that will give you real clarity and valuable answers to help direct what you and the client do together next. If you start with the answers you are looking for, the questions are then easy to build, and remember the Open and Closed questions. Open for information and closed for clarification.
- Establish the need of the client
- Understand the outcome they want
- What will make a difference to them
- When do they need that to happen
- Map out some great questions, but never make it feel like an interview or script. Chat – have a conversation. Be interested in your client.
- Understand your value ladder and the solutions you provide so you are already matching your solution to their need.
- Be confident in what will happen next after the call. (a proposal, referral, checking in a few weeks later, etc.) Always have a Call to Action from a discovery call.
Following the above plan will help you build confidence and avoid the fear that bubbles up when you’re unsure of what to say and how to say it. This prevents you from rushing off a call that has the potential to become an authentic sale.
Outcome – planning helps you stay focused on the call and cut out any waffle, but it’s also essential to understand the expectations of your client and yourself. What outcome do you and they want from the call?
- Send a proposal – it may be the client will ask for a proposal, and if that’s the case you know they have felt listened to and understood. Even more powerful is if you offer them a proposal. If you decide to do this it will be after you have repeated back to them what you believe you mutually discussed, and that means building trust by using the wonderful words ‘What I am going to do for you is…’ This sentence never feels scripted, but always shows that you have the client’s interests foremost in your mind and so your next actions will be for the benefit of them. Here is the perfect place to offer a proposal which also cements everything you have discussed in a value led format. I will be doing a blog on proposals in the next few weeks.
- Make a sale – we all want to hear ‘how can I work with you and when can we start?’ And this is a real possibility, especially if you have always shown up consistently, regularly, and relevantly. I have had people on a call with me who have told me they had followed me for two years and they were now ready to work with me. Never underestimate the power of being visible.
- Referral – I always ensure that the client has thinking time and this stops everything feeling pushy. Part of that will be my recommendation that they speak to previous or existing clients. And don’t forget, not everyone is your ideal customer, so you may find that the outcome of a discovery call is that you can’t help the client but can refer them to someone who can.
How to turn objections into powerful attraction points
Another great fear for people on discovery calls is if they are faced with objections.
Why do objections happen in sales? When I gave my webinar on this topic, some of the answers to that question included the following:
- I didn’t feel heard
- I felt pushed into something
- No empathy or rapport
- Lack of trust
- No value
There are many objections your ideal clients can come up with. The idea is to stop these objections before they start. But how do you do that?
First of all, you need to understand the needs of your client. What challenges do they face? How can your services or products help them? Remember to step into their world.
Now we are back to our golden ticket – questions. If you practice any two things in sales I would say they would be Listening and asking ‘great’ questions. Be brave with those questions, and delve deep if you don’t understand something. You will benefit, but your client will also know that you really are interested in them and it will build trust. I’ve said before that if anyone ever says ‘great question’ you know you have asked something of real value.
To dig deeper into questioning don’t forget to check out the fabulous ‘5 Bare Bums on a Rugby Post’ technique with your questions. All the questions that have the most value start here – your open questions. Who, Where, When, What, Why, and How.
Q: What difference would what I offer make to you and your business?
Q: Why is it important to change things now? – (this is great to sense check if they are serious about doing something now.)
It can be tricky to get the right balance between asking your questions and hearing what is being said. It takes practice; and to help, get into the habit of repeating things back to the client, so they feel listened to and understood, and if you miss anything, don’t be afraid to say, ‘can you explain that further?’
When you connect with people, it’s difficult for them to object. Even if they say no straight away, it’s more likely to be a ‘not right now’ than a hard ‘no’.
How to end the call yet continue the conversation
Many of us don’t bring discovery calls to a conclusion, we often leave with no further plan, no next steps or action, no human connection! And that is usually because this can be the most terrifying part. Here are a few examples of how to bring a discovery call to a productive conclusion, and your planning will have already helped with this too.
Let’s look at an effective way to continue the conversation after this call.
- Clarification: This is where you assess what the client has talked about and help them feel heard and show that you understand their challenges. “It’s been great to learn more about you and your business and I would be excited to help you with the challenges you have. Just to recap your main concerns are…XYZ – and I understand the difference this work would make to your current situation is…”
- Call to action: What action will be taken at the end of the call? Refer to your possible outcomes in the planning stage. Are you going to send a proposal, refer them somewhere else, or give them a start date? Remember “What I’m going to do for you is…”
- Follow up call: A discovery call doesn’t need to be a one-off. Book a follow up call whilst you are on that first call. You aim to keep the conversation going and build a relationship. “Let’s book another call in a week and see where you are then” – make sure you deliver on this promise. If you tell a client to expect your call in a week, add it to your calendar and do it.
‘Anyone can sell, but only the fearless can be great!’ – Jules White
If a sale needs to take twelve months, let it take twelve months. Build your relationships, have multiple conversations, let your ideal client get to know you and your business, so they trust that you are the right person for them. Nurture the sale.
Planning, asking the right questions, and building your confidence when ending the discovery call should reduce any fear of handling these calls effectively.
“Fearless is not the absence of fear, fearless is living in spite of those things that scare you.” ~ Taylor Swift
What would it mean to you if you could feel calm and at ease when providing discovery calls? How would your sales techniques change if you knew how to stop objections before they start? What difference would it make to your business if you could close a discovery call with confidence?
Joining the Sales Academy will help you understand how to use storytelling in your business, how to fall in love with selling, and build your discovery call skills. My article, 4 Reasons Why Joining a Membership Will Help Your Business Grow, gives you more information.
“Sales was always a cold, unwelcoming term to me…Encompassing conversations trying to persuade an unsuspecting individual that they needed my service. The Live it Love it Sell it – Sales Academy has been a real eye opener for me. I’m learning to love sales, I’m learning that sales is all about me and my love and passion for what I do. The content, lessons, lives and totally supportive community is worth every penny. Thank you Jules!” Andrea Rainsford – Founder of SEO Angel
Join me in the Live it Love it Sell it Sales Academy. You’ll get all the support, resources, and community interaction you need.
Want to find out more? Schedule a virtual cuppa with me, and we can chat about the membership or my other coaching services.