4 Ways To Improve Your Discovery Calls

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Ah, the discovery call. A freelancer’s bread and butter. Booking a discovery call with a new client is always so exciting!

…until you’ve realized you’re either unprepared, on a call with someone who definitely isn’t a good fit for you, or you have no idea what to tell the person in front of you when they ask how much the deposit would be to reserve a space on your calendar for a certain set of services. Yikes.

In this post, I’m telling you allll my disco call best practices, so you make your clients feel comfortable and present yourself like the expert you are.

1) Don’t use an automated scheduling tool.

This one might ruffle some feathers, but I stand by it. I’ll explain.

Using an automated tool like Calendly allows anyone to book a space on your calendar with no communication from you at all. This may sound like a productivity dream, but it can actually bite you in the ass. You’re setting yourself up for failure by not creating a personal connection with this person.

Maybe you’ve thought to add solid questions to your form, so you can do your appropriate research prior to the call. Good.

But what about on their end? They’re probably seeing that meeting on their Google cal wondering who the F they’re talking to and how it got there, because they signed up via the link in your bio 2 weeks ago and don’t even remember that they requested the call.

I’m all for a scheduler, but I prefer to respond to leads manually with a personalized message, THEN send a link to the calendar once you’ve decided to chat.

This also allows you to weed out any unnecessary calls with people who you don’t want t work with (low budget, wrong timeline, complicated project scope that you’re not down for…whatever).

2) Make sure you’re not wasting anyone’s time.

A lot of freelancers — including myself — are quick to get on a discovery call with a potential new client, because they’re eager about the possibility of working together.

Sometimes, though, the prospect of a new paycheck a bit more exciting than the actual project. Before responding with an enthusiastic calendar invite and a “can’t wait to chat!!!” you need to make sure whether or not you may be the best fit.

Prior to scheduling a call, determine whether…

  • You have time to take on the project they’re looking to outsource.

  • Your services fit within their budget.

  • You’re creatively, personally, or professionally aligned with this person or brand.

By including specific questions on your lead forms, you can likely figure out this information before you even respond to their inquiry.

For example, if you were to fill out my lead form and tell me that you have a budget of $500 and a desired turnaround time of one week, I can be certain that my full website copywriting services aren’t the best fit for you.

If you have questions about a project that weren’t answered on your lead form, don’t be afraid to send them an email before that initial ‘first date’ discovery call!

It’s completely normal to respond to a potential client and tell them that you’re looking forward to learning more about them and their projects, and asking them for clarity about what they’re looking for, their timeline, etc., to determine whether you’re a good fit.

In taking the time to consider whether you’re a good fit for each other — because, yes, discovery calls are both for YOU and the lead — you’ll be saving yourselves a lot of time.

There’s nothing worse than sending a personalized proposal to someone you weren’t sure about because you feel like you *should* and then getting ghosted because it wasn’t a fit.

Do yourself a favor and try your hardest to determine that prior to ever jumping on a call.

(Hint: if your website copy speaks directly to your ideal client, chances are you’ll receive submission forms that are much more aligned with who you genuinely want to work with! If you need help refining your brand’s message, click here to learn more about how we can collaborate!)

3) Appropriately prepare by anticipating needs/questions.

If you’re hopping on a ~disco~ call with someone, they’ve likely filled out a lead form, which (as previously mentioned in tip #2) should ask Qs about which services want, their budget, their biz, etc. Reviewing this (and any relevant email exchanges) prior to the call will help you refresh your memory about what this person wants to chat with you about.

I find it helpful to print their initial submission form, and then write my notes on that piece of paper prior to the call.

I always pull up my services and pricing on my computer, so I can look at exactly what they’re likely looking at while we’re talking, and I make sure that I leave no stone unturned when it comes to preparing for what they may ask me.

Nothing is more awk than a prospective client asking you how much something is and you having to look it up on your price sheet or use a calculator to determine your own fees, or being unsure how to respond when they ask what your timeline is, or what your process looks like.

Thinking of all the possible scenarios ahead of time will save you from an *uncomfy* sitch.

When I worked in the hotel biz back in the day (at this gorgeous property), we used to call this specific act of preparation being anticipatory: anticipating the needs of someone prior to them expressing those needs themselves.

This action is what got me a perfect score from the under-cover Forbes Travel Guide auditor at my concierge desk back then, and it’s what saves my ass on discovery calls now.

4) Chat on video if possible.

Getting to talk to a real human face-to-face is rare in these pandemic days, but luckily for us, video chat is back in style! And it’s a necessity as a creative entrepreneur.

I always suggest video chats for discovery calls (and kickoff calls, and review calls…) because you can connect with people so much better when you’re looking them in the eye.

Google Meet (although sometimes a little glitchy) is a great way to easily include video conferencing, because it automatically populates an invitation when you send a Google calendar invite.

For more in-depth calls, though, I like to use Zoom, so clients can record the conversations and we can share screens if necessary.

I hope you found this post helpful! If you did, make sure to SAVE it on Pinterest to refer back to before hopping on your next disco call! If you have any questions about discovery call techniques, or if you have any tips you want to share, send me a DM on Instagram!

If we haven’t had the chance to *virtually* meet yet, hi! I’m Sara Noel—website copywriter and marketing mentor for creatives, copywriters, and all-around cool people. If you like my content and you want even more BTL in your life, here are a few ways you can connect with me:

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To get in touch with me directly, send me a DM or email sara@betweenthelinescopy.com. Have a great day!

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