How to find perfect fit clients without painful discovery calls


Maurice “Mo” B. hates painful discovery calls!

He is the Founder and CEO of a marketing consulting firm and he was eager to adopt IMPACT Based Pricing.

However, he struggled with the discovery calls that make IMPACT Based Pricing possible.

“My free 30 minute consultations feel like interrogations, and I rarely get useful information from these calls. Would love your suggestions, Susan.”

Mo is not alone!

Whether you offer a free consultation, a discovery or a strategy call, you’re trying to find out important information from people who inquire about their services.

Here’s how I recommend you handle that first call with a curious, prospective buyer.Be honest.

The “Get to Know Each Other” Call

Be honest! Complimentary consultation or strategy calls are neither. You’re not consulting or strategizing. Your focus is on getting the prospect to reveal things to you.

A ‘discovery call’ is a more honest name. But the way most providers do it, it feels like an interrogation.

“They’re going to grill me. They’re going to want to know what my budget is, if I am the real decision-maker, what is my problem and what have I tried before. Ugh.”

The alternative

Why not simply call your first conversation a “Getting to Know Each Other” call or zoom meeting?

In the name are two things missing from the discovery call or free consultation:

  1. It’s a two way exchange of information.
  2. You’re clear that ‘fit’ has to work both ways.

Now you’re ready for that all important converstion.

The six topics/questions

Print this list and keep it handy during your next call.

#1. What’s your favorite thing about your company?

Everyone loves to talk about what makes them happy, what they’re proud of. It’s a great ice breaker. Write it down because you will want to refer to it later.

#2. Is there something going on/on your mind that made you think we should talk?

I never want to assume there’s a problem, or pain point, or something keeping them up at night. Owners and Executives are often thinking way ahead and this question gives them a chance to talk about that. This is not about goals, it’s about imagination, creativity, growth in a broad sense.  Write it down carefully!

Now it’s their turn.

#3.  Ask “What would you like to know about our company?”

You’re inviting them to tell you what specifically is of interest. Tell them what they want to know and then stop.

#4. Return to their answer to the second question. “Going back to what made you think about calling me, could you tell me, is this (idea, thought, plan, concern) something that just annoys or inconveniences you, or do you think it’s on the critical path?”

You can refer to the Issue Chart we invented specifically for this purpose.

If their reason for calling is on the critical path, they’ll tell you now, because you’ve been talking, not interrogating. If it’s an annoyance or inconvenience, they’ll be receptive to offers that reflect that.

#5. Follow up their answer to question four with this one: “Let’s say you have a continuum from 1 to 10. If you get it (resolved, implmented, started, or eliminated) where would you place that? Is it a huge difference, something like an 8, 9, or 10? Or a small difference, like a 2, 3, or 4? Or maybe somewhere in the middle, 5-7?”

Do not rush them to answer, and when they answer say, “tell me more.”

The more you learn from them, in their own words, the better positioned you are to make an offer they will accept. Repeat back to them what you heard to confirm you have it right and to let them know you have really listened.

Don’t forget money!

#6. What about money? Yes, you must know if the prospect has money and is willing to spend it with your firm.

I like to phrase the question this way: “Is there a line item in your budget for this?”

Pause. Often there is not because of the bad habit of building the current year’s budget on the past year’s budget. Or it’s possible that the idea and desire came up recently, after this year’s budget was made.

So if there isn’t one for this year, ask if they will find money for this work? You must know at this point if they really intend to consider your offers or not.

If they say they’re not sure they can find the money, you have to ask directly what is their preferred next step? Don’t agree to send them a proposal because you know they aren’t planning to buy. You can say that you only send proposals when a client has funding.

If they say they will find the money, you need to ask a few more questions: How much? When? How likely? Are there other people who will have to agree?

Agree on a deadlione for finding the money, maybe two weeks later. That becomes your next agreed upon contact. If there is funding, you’ll want to schedule a next call or zoom meeting to focus on the details of the potential project so your offer can be customized just for them.

Time for a Break

It’s important to stop the “getting to know you call” now because you’ve covered enough for now. If you’re afraid you’ll lose them if there’s a delay, then they’re probably not a true good fit client. If they’re eager to get started, set up the next meeting for the next day or two.

Only six questions?

Just for fun I read several articles about discovery calls. One offered 28 questions to ask, and another one has a sheet with 101 questions to ask in discovery!

These six questions make it easy to get to know a prospective client. They can be covered in a relaxed 30 minute conversation. The answers will provide the meat of your IMPACT Based Pricing 3-2-1 Offer.

Want a ‘getting to know you conversation” with me? Simply email or text GETTING to 703-801-0345.


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