I closed my email inbox and squealed with glee.
“I did it! I just booked a discovery call with that client I really want to work with! This could change EVERYTHING,” I said to my husband.
“You’re a rockstar,” he said as we fist-bumped. “I knew you could do it.”
I’d been nurturing a client prospect for weeks, and my patience had finally paid off. Their booked call notification had just landed in my inbox, and I was thrilled. As I entered the appointment in my calendar, though, reality started to sink in.
I’d landed the call … but that didn’t mean I’d landed the client – yet. What happened on the call would determine whether or not we’d actually work together. This discovery call was a big deal for me.
So … now what?
The Discovery Call Dance
Ever booked a discovery call with a “big fish” and then frozen with uncertainty? I have.
What if I’m not a rockstar like my husband thinks I am?
What if I sound like an idiot on the call?
What if I don’t ask the right questions, make a bad impression and the whole thing flops?
Discovery calls are a necessary part of closing projects. After doing hundreds of them over the last few years, the good news is it’s gotten a whole lot easier. Today, I close around 80 percent of calls … but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still get a bit nervous when I hop on a call with someone I really want to work with.
Fortunately, I’ve discovered that discovery calls are less about me and more about the client. The key to closing discovery calls is all in the questions you ask the client, and there are nine questions I always ask on a discovery call.
The great thing is, these questions don’t just work for me. Anyone can ask them and increase their close rate. In this article, I’m going to let you in on the nine questions I always ask so you can add them to your discovery call script.
Question 1: What is the number one goal of your business?
Every business owner or entrepreneur likes to talk about their business. It’s their baby. They pour their blood, sweat and tears into it, and showing interest immediately creates a connection between you and the client.
Asking about their business also does more than just give the client those warm, fuzzy feelings. It gives you information about what their focus is. Their number one goal reveals information about what their main focus is in their business, and this is information you can mirror back to them later in the call. Here’s an example:
Me: “So, <client name>, what would you say is the number one goal of your business?”
Client: “I help real estate agents get better at lead generation so they can book more listings, sell more properties and improve their lifestyles.”
This one statement from the client gives you so much insight on their priorities and focus. Later in the call, you can present your services as a way to help them achieve their goal and that is super powerful.
Me, later in the call: “My goal for this project with you will be to write an email remarketing sequence that clearly shows them that the key to improving their lifestyle is by taking your course so they can learn your framework for booking more listings and selling more properties.”
Boom. I’ve just handed them the keys to their kingdom.
Question 2: How can I help you achieve that goal right now?
Usually the client has a specific project in mind when they come to me, but instead of just asking, “Okay, do you need a funnel or ad copy or what?”, I like to keep the number one goal as a focus in the call as well. This shows the client that I have a big-picture viewpoint and an understanding of the overall strategy they’re implementing.
It also shows them I care about more than just the immediate project. I care about them as a person and the business itself. Business owners and entrepreneurs don’t always get that kind of care and attention from service providers, so it really puts them at ease talking to me and makes it easy for them to trust me.
Question 3: Is this a new offer? Has it had traffic pushed to it before?
This is probably one of my favorite questions, but it’s easy to overlook. Don’t. Do not overlook this question because this question is the gateway to blowing their socks off in the next question. This question sets you up to be able to come alongside them as a partner to their success instead of just a contractor finishing a task.
Knowing whether you’re working on first-time offer or an established offer is important for you as you put together a bid as well. Existing offers that have had traffic and conversions before will require a different approach than a brand new baby offer. More research and testing will be involved with a new offer, and you’ll want to consider that in your project bid.
Existing offers are also gold mines of data, which leads us to the next question …
Question 4: How has the offer performed in the past?
Look out, because this question can be a gamechanger. When you ask a prospect about past performance and analytics, you instantly elevate yourself in their mind from copywriter to conversion copy expert.
This question shows that you understand what goes on behind-the-scenes and can read the data that tells the story of how a campaign is actually doing. (If you don’t know how to read the behind-the-scenes campaign data, don’t worry, I’ll show you that in another blog article. Stay tuned.) Most copywriters can’t. Most copywriters have never seen the back end of a sales funnel or the inside of Facebook Ads Manager.
If you ask them about their past performance, they’re instantly thinking, “Okay, NOW we’re cooking. This person GETS it.” I have literally closed clients on this question alone.
The first four questions serve the purposes of connecting with the client as a person, showing you care about their business and offers, and establish you as an expert in your field. The next four questions help cover the nuts and bolts of the projects so you can create a proposal that meets all their needs and makes it easy for them to say yes.
Question 5: Who is your target audience?
As copywriters, we know that although we write projects FOR clients, we’re actually writing TO their target audiences to attract more of their dream clients and customers to their business. That means we’re going to need a detailed understanding of the people they serve. Asking them who their target audience is now is going to tell you some things that will be helpful when you create a proposal.
First, their response will show you how well they understand who they serve. If they can instantly tell you that they serve male real estate agents ages 28-42 who sell high-ticket properties in urban areas, you know that they’ve done their homework. They likely have some target market data they can show you and maybe even an avatar document.
If they respond with a very general “all real estate agents” type of response, you’ll know they are going to need your help to really dial in on exactly who they serve before you can write sales copy that really connects with their target audience. This will be extra time and energy on your part, and you’ll want to factor that into the proposal, trust me.
Question 6: What is your timeline for the project?
This question can be kind of tricky, but don’t let the client’s response throw you off if their knee jerk reaction is “As soon as possible.” Asking them this question isn’t an indication that you will be dropping everything just to make an unreasonable deadline. It just shows them you have respect for their time.
If they do reply with an unreasonable deadline, there are several ways you can handle it – but you can’t handle it if you don’t know the unreasonable deadline exists in their heads. That’s why it’s important to ask up front before you agree.
Be up front with them about the time it will take you to complete the project well in your proposal. You can also include rush rates if that applies.
Question 7: Do you have a set budget for this project?
This question used to make me so nervous that sometimes I would just leave it out. Big mistake. I always regretted not asking about their budget if I didn’t, because without a baseline for what they can afford, I can’t create a proposal that meets their needs. This ups the chance that I’ll either underbid my services and end up in a project where I’m dealing with a whole lot of scope creep that I’m not compensated well for …
… OR submit a bid that sends them into sticker shock and I never hear from them again.
Going into the proposal knowing a bit about their budget helps you prevent both scope creep and sticker shock. You’ll be able to send over a proposal that’s fair to both of you. Perhaps they’ll just pick and choose which pieces they want to book, or maybe they’ll decide you’re worth it and go for the whole thing.
That said, I do normally give the client a ballpark figure on the call. I like them to have a baseline for what the proposal may include so they’re prepared.
Question 8: What is your dream goal for this offer/project?
This question is similar to question one, but it’s more focused on the specific project. Knowing this information helps you both when it comes to setting expectations for the project because it gives you a starting point for measurable growth.
Measurable growth is key to reasonable expectations. When you know what they want to achieve, you can help them reverse engineer it to create the step-by-step roadmap to the path they want.
Question 9: What is the best way to contact you?
This one is super basic, but I’ve learned not to overlook it. Make sure you know where they want you to send the proposal. I’ve made the mistake of not asking and using the email in the discovery call booking form, only to realize it’s an email they never use. Make sure they see the proposal right away by asking how they want you to contact them.
Ending the Call
Before the call ends, I do two more things that set me up for closing success.
First, I send them a link to my portfolio and my website’s testimonials page. This shows them that I’m an open book with confidence in the services I provide. It also gives them a chance to creep me and see my work. Don’t have a portfolio? Stay tuned, because I’m going to be sharing a quick and easy way to create one in a future blog article.
Second, I let them know when they can expect the proposal, and then I make sure the proposal is sent over early. This sets the tone for open and clear communication. It also creates a positive experience with me when it comes to project deadlines before we even work together.
More from Christa Nichols
That’s my tried and true recipe for discovery call success. If you follow these steps and put these questions into action in your next discovery call, you’re going to be thrilled with the response you get. For more tips and strategies on landing clients, check out my FREE RESOURCE on writing landing pages that convert. A good landing page is the key to getting well-qualified leads in your pipeline that you can then hop on discovery calls with and close. Cha-ching!