Michelle Villalobos

The Superstar Scoop: What Is A “Discovery Call?” And How To Lead An Effective One!

If you ask me what is the number ONE skill that must be mastered to grow a successful speaking, coaching, or consulting business (besides delivering spectacular results) I would say it is conducting an effective Discovery Call.

So what exactly is a Discovery Call and how can you master it?

Watch the video below, or keep reading!

By my definition, a Discovery Call is an introductory call that consultants, coaches, speakers, and other “experts” who sell their services offer to prospects to initiate the sales process. It's often the very first interaction you'll have with a potential client, and is an opportunity to ensure that you are a right fit for them – and they for you.

I have, through my learning and personal experiences, cultivated a few strategies that will help you maximize that first interaction and lay the foundation for a great client relationship.

Step 1

The first step is actually a pre-call step, and it's about getting into a good “state” – a service-driven state, where you are focused on providing insight, perspective, and value. 

Take a few deep breaths and remind yourself, “I  am in service to this person. I'm here to lead this  person and guide them to the next best decision – whether that's to work together, or not, and either way is fine.” 

The goal here is to simultaneously commit fully to leading and supporting the person towards a “yes” (if it's a right fit) while at the same time detaching from the outcome. Because if you're attached to the outcome, you're not in true service, and that's where we can seem pushy or manipulative to a potential client.

Step 2

Get into rapport, then take charge by providing a “frame” for the call. 

Start with a little rapport-building in the form of chit chat or pleasantries for a minute or so, and then move pretty quickly move into the “pre-frame.” The pre-frame establishes you as the leader of the call, and the rules of engagement for the call, so to speak. For example, you might let the prospect know that you're going to ask a lot of questions, take some notes, and poke around to get a sense of what's going on with them. 

One thing I highly recommend doing on the pre-frame is to establish that at the end of the call, a decision will be made about whether you both would like to move forward and work together – or not, and that either way is fine, there's no pressure.

Believe it or not, I've found that establishing such rules of the game from the get-go, gives clients a sense of ease and structure. Most of the time, if someone is hopping on a call like this with you, it's because they're looking to be led. Also, by establishing up from that at the end you'll decide if you want to work together, they can relax and focus on the conversation, instead of “when is the sales pitch coming?”.

Step 3

Diagnose. Now it's time to dive in. 

This is where you do the actual discovery.  It's where you ask ALL the questions, where to take the notes, where you really identify what it is that is standing in this person's way of success.

Here's where you'll also start to get ideas about what they need to remove the obstacles and get where they want to go. This is generally the longest part of the call — and the part that you can usually “accordion” longer or shorter, depending on how long your calls are. 

Once you have a good sense of 1) what they want, 2) what's in the way, and 3) if this is a person you can truly help, that's a good time to move into the next step.

Step 4

Share insight.

You've asked the questions and really listened to the answers. Now you can share your perspective.

Be careful on the time you spend here, as you are not providing leadership or solutions at this time, just insight on what you see a far as possibilities and problems that require solutions. Check to see if what you're saying is resonating with them, and check in about whether this is something they are ready to solve sooner rather than later. 

My recommendation here is if you're feeling the vibe (and can sense that they are too), let them know!! Tell them that you believe you can help, and ask them if they want to find out how you could help them. Don't just launch into a sales pitch!! Let them ask you for it, and say YES they want to know more. 

I also recommend at this juncture asking about their timing and level of commitment to achieving what they want. Is this a “I must do this now” kind of situation, or a “maybe someday, it would be nice type of thing?” 

If they are committed and ready to move forward then move on to the next step. If the timing is not right then set a timeline to talk in the future when the timing might be better. 

Step 5

The Offer.

If you have determined that this is a good sales opportunity and if you're feeling you have what you need to move into the offer, I recommend making the invitation, gaining agreement, and taking payment right then.

However, if your Discovery Call is only 15-20 minutes, it can be beneficial to move them into what I call a full-blown “Strategy Session” so you have plenty of time and not feel pressured.

It is important to be able to gauge that by listening deeply and feeling into what is most appropriate. 

Step 6

Collecting Payment.

So, the client is a fit and the timing is right, now how do you have clients pay on a Discovery Call?

If you've done a really good job and effectively gone through all of the steps, chances are the payment step won't be very difficult.

A lot of times coaches, consultants, and other expert service providers shy away from taking a payment because they don't want to be pushy.

In my humble opinion, that's a mistake. I've found that people are rarely as committed and engaged as they are at the end of a Discovery Call or a Strategy Session, when you've just walked them through the above conversation (or a more in-depth version of it).  

This is the time when they are at their peak of commitment and that is absolutely the best time to gain that commitment and secure it with a payment. 

At the very least, you can take a deposit as a token of commitment. 

A big “no-no” is telling someone who is “hot” and ready to make a commitment, that you will send them a proposal, a brochure, or even worse, a recap and proposal. I've found that those sales often go cold. 

If you run into a potential client that is interested in a recap, my response is always, “Tell me what you're concerned about. Tell me what I can support you with because we're here now and no brochure is going to answer your question better than I can.” 

Ultimately if you do a good job walking people through this structure, asking for the sale won't feel pushy and won't feel difficult. 

Remember, at the beginning of the call if you did it right with the pre-frame, you've set up that at the end of the call there will be a decision. 

So, I'm a big believer that you'll never seem pushy if you go through these steps naturally. 


If you are a consultant, coach, speaker, or other “expert” and you want to grow your business in a way that's aliged, authentic and energy rich, I can help! Want to see how I do it? Book a discovery call with me and you can discover what it's like. 

You can do that at superstaractivator.com/go

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