Editor’s note: This post was originally published on 5/23/19 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehension.
A discovery call is the first scheduled meeting with a prospect or lead. It could be an in-person meeting, a video call or a phone call. It’s an opportunity to gather important information.
Your job as a salesperson is to sell more services so your business grows.
Your bottom line will increase when you learn how to use discovery calls to your advantage and have an answer for the excuses.
But if you’ve been in sales for any length of time, chances are, you’ve experienced one (or all) of these sales barriers:
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 three-stage process we use (and trained tons of our clients to use) to close more deals in less time, sell more services and to overcome sales objections.
The steps are:
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.
A discovery call is the very first meeting you schedule with a prospect.
It may be a phone call, video meeting or in-person meeting.
And you’ll reap the call discovery benefits if you get prospects to answer five very important questions about the lead.
And by finding out those five answers (we’ll discuss the questions in a minute), you’ll be able to excite and qualify prospects.
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 asking the five questions, 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.
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.
Before you truly know you can help a prospect, you need to know what their goals are. That’s how this discovery call script will help you get a targeted answer to this question.
Is this someone with their head in the clouds? Or are their goals realistic?
When the call begins, it helps to open up by 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?”
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, they have a goal but don’t know what they need (or they don’t know the best way to reach that goal), 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 – and throw the discovery call agenda out the window!
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.
The leads are speaking to you because they have a problem and believe you can solve it.
For this question, 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.
Essentially, you’ll use this answer to formulate your discovery call script to target their needs.
Say things like:
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.
You’ll be able to find out the answers to this and the next questions in a matter of 60 seconds.
First, you need to know the timeframe in which they’re looking to get started.
If they say, “We won’t be making a decision until 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 piece of information.
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.
Most people struggle to ask this question or avoid it altogether.
In fact, I meet many service-based businesses who ask questions one through four and then just send a proposal without knowing what the prospect’s 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:
By giving them a starting price in the second option, 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.
If everything goes according to plan, 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 Call.
So, after following this budget-qualification discovery call checklist, 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 book the second meeting – to explore the options and go into more depth – before you hang up from this 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 and sell more services.
When we first began implementing this stage, it helped us:
The next article will break down the Exploratory step, and show you how to further qualify leads before you send a proposal.
The best discovery call questions are: