If you sell a service, chances are, you’ve experienced one (or all) of the following things during the process of converting a lead into a customer:
- They verbally tell you they’re on board, just to fall off the face of the planet after you send the proposal – never to be heard from again.
- You spend an hour or more on the initial call, only to find out they aren’t qualified to hire your company.
- You take plenty of handwritten notes during a sales call. Then six months later, the lead comes back and is ready to move forward – except you can’t find the notepad you wrote the notes on six months prior.
- You hop on a call, only to find out you aren’t asking the right questions to get the information you need.
- You send a packet of your pricing over email – never hear from the lead again.
It happens all the time.
And when it does, you feel like pulling out your gorgeous locks of hair.
After a moment of brief frustration, you move on to the next lead in your pipeline.
In this three-part blog series, I’m going to outline the exact 3-stage process we use (and tons of our clients/students use) to close more deals in less time and to overcome some of those silly challenges I listed above.
When you have a process to systematically close deals, you don’t have to worry about those kinds of things happening.
Today, we’ll be discussing the first stage, known as the Discovery Call – or step one.
What Is a Discovery Call?
A discovery call is the very first scheduled meeting.
It may be a phone call, video meeting or in-person meeting. The entire point is to discover 5 very important things about the lead.
And by finding out those five things (we’ll discuss them in a minute), you’ll be able to excite & qualify them.
Limit the Discovery Call to 20 Minutes
For this initial call, your goal should be to never spend more than 20 minutes with a lead.
Once you’ve mastered the art of finding out the five factors, you’ll be able to knock every discovery call out in less than 20 minutes.
The only exception is if you’re incredibly confident that they’ll become your customer. If that’s the case, then you can spend more time with them.
But ultimately, your goal is to find out the five factors listed below and end the meeting.
It respects your time and theirs.
The 5 Things You MUST Know Before Hanging Up
These are five things you absolutely must find out before the discovery call is over. Without them, you’ll be like bald tires in the middle of winter in the north – pretty helpless.
Over time, you’ll be able to naturally ask the questions that will help gather this information.
Thing #1: Goal(s)
Before you truly know you can help them, you need to know what their goals are.
Is this someone with their head in the clouds? Or are they realistic goals?
When the call begins, it helps to open up with asking them how you can help. It’s an open-ended question, and it typically gets them focusing on their goals. (Cha-ching!)
I’ll usually open with, “Hey, Joe! It’s nice to finally speak with you! So, how can I help?”
It’s unbelievably simple, but it immediately gets the lead talking about the goals they have and what they think you can help them achieve – and it’s all done without asking them “What are your goals?”
Thing #2: Needs
When we first started implementing this process, I had a few “oops” moments that made me feel like an idiot.
First, the lead started talking about her goals. From there, I put together an idea of what I thought she should buy and then I’d try to push it. But occasionally, it wasn’t at all what they were looking for.
And what ended up happening? They never responded to another email or call from me.
I quickly learned that goals and needs are two different things.
Often times, they have a goal, but don’t know what they need, which is why they’re talking to you – the expert.
But sometimes, they do know what they need.
And when they know what they need, it’s time to shut up and take their order.
That’s why we added a section in our sales notes for each discovery call, titled “Needs.”
If they don’t know what they need, you’ll end up filling it out on your own after the call. If they DO know what they need, they’ll tell you. Write it down, so you don’t look like an idiot later.
Thing #3: Challenges
The leads are speaking to you because they have a problem and believe you can solve it.
If you can truly hone in and precisely uncover the challenge, then you can leverage it throughout the sales process to put you on their side of the table.
For example, if the lead tells you how important it is to take the burden off his shoulders and that he simply “doesn’t have the time,” then you can appeal to that in your follow-up emails and conversations.
Say things like:
- Don’t worry, we’ll get this off your plate and into incredible hands!
- You’ll love the people we put on your team. It’ll be as if they’re in-house. They’ll get things done quickly and efficiently.
- I know you’re stacked, but what time works best to run through the options?
Common challenges will probably be time, skill, knowledge or resources.
Learn how to address each of these challenges and respond with how you’ll help them.
Thing #4: Timeframe
You’ll be able to find out Thing #4 and #5 in a matter of 60 seconds.
First, you need to know the timeframe they’re looking to get started.
If they say, “We won’t be making a decision till next quarter,” then you don’t need to waste too much time pushing to close the deal now.
If a lead says, “We’re looking to get started ASAP,” then you can leverage that in all your emails and conversations. When leads say this, it means you need to get aggressive to close the deal — because they’re in buying mode.
The easiest one-liner we use to figure out the timeframe is: “Do you know when you’re looking to get things rolling by?”
People happily tell us. And it’s typically along the lines of: ASAP.
Thing #5: Budget
Most people struggle to ask this question or avoid it altogether.
In fact, I meet many service-based businesses who ask things 1-4 and then just send a proposal without knowing what their budget is!
You absolutely must attempt to find out this variable because it’s the final qualifier.
Everything could be a great fit, but if they can’t afford your services, then you’ll be wasting countless hours with presentations, proposals and chasing them.
The absolute easiest way to budget-qualify them is by asking: “Do you know what you’re looking to invest in your _____ this year?”
When you get to this stage, one of two things will happen:
- They give you their budget. This happens maybe 50% of the time. Score! Typically, you’ll learn the budget if it’s a medium-large business and you’re meeting with someone who was given a specific budget.
- The beat around the bush and give you squat. The other half of the time, they’ll say something along the lines of, “Well, er, uh, um, eh, it depends.” When that happens, you still need to qualify them, so you don’t waste more time in the second stage of this sales process. To do that, simply say, “That’s ok! To give you an idea, our [insert service] starts at X dollars.”
By giving them a starting price in option 2, they’ll either say, “That isn’t too bad,” or “That’s too much!” Either way, you’ll have your answer as to whether they’re budget qualified or not.
Taking Them to Stage Two
If everything goes according to planned, you should have spent less than 20 minutes to find out all five of the variables (Goals, Needs, Challenges, Timeframe, Budget).
Armed with that information and if they’re qualified, then you can take them to stage two, which is the Exploratory phase.
So, after the budget-qualification call, it’s time to get the next meeting set up. It’ll need to be in-person or over video, because you’ll be screensharing. (Plus, it’s more personal.)
Always get the second meeting to explore the options and go in-depth scheduled before you leave the discovery call.
This ensures you aren’t chasing people with emails and keeps the lead moving down your pipeline smoothly.
Adding the Discovery step to your sales process will greatly help you move leads down your pipeline. It’ll also give your sales team a methodology to follow.
When we first began implementing this stage, it helped us:
- Minimize lead-chasing.
- Reduce hour-long initial meetings.
- Decrease having to create unnecessary proposals (and prayers!).
- Qualify leads quickly.
- Build rapport around them.
In my next post, I’ll break down the Exploratory step and how to further qualify before you send a proposal.
What does your discovery process look like?