Episode 58: Discovery Call Planning: Asking the RIGHT Questions

On the last episode, I shared five big mistakes I made with discovery calls that REALLY killed my sales for the first few years of my business. Once I stopped doing those big mistakes, I went from 1,000 failed sales calls to selling over $60,000 of my services in just three weeks.

No, I didn’t get a brain transplant or become some sort of sales guru. If you haven’t had a chance, you may want to pause this show and listen to episode #57 first.

So, what did I do to turn the sales momentum around in my business?

I followed this 5-step process which I’ve put together in a free cheat sheet for you that you can get right here.

Let’s quickly go over those five steps again, and then we’re going to dive a bit deeper into the first three in today’s episode. We’ll get into the last two in next week’s episode, so you’ll want to be sure and tune in for that one.

Here are the five steps to a discovery call that sell:

  1. Clarify their goals.
  2. Agitate their current problem.
  3. Emotionally connect to what their problem is costing them right now.
  4. Paint a picture of a better tomorrow.
  5. Prove you have done it before.

Now let’s look at the first three steps in more detail.   

Biggest Show Takeaways:

  • Step #1: Clarify their goals
    • One of the BEST things you can do for your audience and your business growth is to get crystal clear on the BIG BURNING DESIRE your potential clients have. Know what problems they struggle with, what dreams they have and the stories they’re telling themselves about what’s holding them back.
    • If you feel that everyone in your audience is so different that there’s no way you can know those things, then you need to be clear with yourself about what problems you solve for your clients and what you’re selling.
    • When I got clear that I help my clients sell out their offers through the power of marketing funnels, suddenly my audience knew what I was all about. This made it easier to attract the right people and to focus on the problem I solved — and way easier to get my discovery calls on track.
    • I also introduced a call application (that you can see at michellelevans.com/strategy) on my website, and one of the questions on that call application was What do you specifically want my help with the most?
    • When I started asking this question, it was fascinating to see the answers roll in because they all fell into one of three main buckets. That helped me get even clearer on the conversation I would have with my audience.
    • When I started getting clear on the problems and the big, burning desire of my audience, it was even easier to create a discovery call marketing funnel with emails and opt-ins that spoke directly to the people who I wanted to attract.
    • When I get on a call with someone, I’ll start by saying something like, “When I talk with other online business, they want a simple system to attract the right audience and to easily sell their offer without being pushy or salesy or marketing all the time. Is that what you’re looking for as well?” Simple. Succinct. Effective.
    • When you have this level of clarity, it puts your audience at ease because they know you’re an expert who already understands them.
    • Once you have that buy-in from the person you’re speaking with about your call purpose, it’s time to clearly set a call agenda and agree on moving forward.
  • Here’s what that could sound like (you’ll want to adjust this for your own style and topic area):
    • “Great, now that we’re clear on what you’d like to accomplish on our call today, I’d like to start off by learning a bit more about where you’re currently at and how I may be able to help. At the end of the call, if we both feel like it’s a good fit, I’ve got a few options for moving forward with your next step. Does that sound good to you?”
  • As a recap, during your discovery call:
    • DON’T ask them what they are trying to achieve. It makes you look foolish and inexperienced, and even worse, it shows that you didn’t read the application they submitted.
    • DON’T assume that you’re both on the same page, and just start asking questions.
    • DO simply state what their big, burning desire is, and get their verbal commitment that it’s what they want.
    • DO set an agenda and get agreement on the next steps forward. Getting these small yeses now is really important to move your engagement forward.
  • Step #2: Agitate their current problem
    • Ask questions, and listen to the other person’s answers. Ask questions that are relevant to this person’s goal and the problem or problems they feel like they’re facing.
    • Asking relevant, open-ended questions is the key to having a discovery call that connects, engages, and ultimately converts this person into a client.
    • Make sure you direct the conversation. Don’t let the person hijack the conversation with 18 stories and ‘this one time at band camp’ type of meandering replies.
    • There are three buckets or types of questions you can use to direct the conversation here.
      • Type 1: Qualification Questions
        • You may not need to ask a lot of qualification questions depending on if you use a discovery call application or not.
        • If you DO use an application, you may ask these qualification questions before you even jump on the phone, so you only need to ask maybe one of these questions.
        • If you DO NOT use an application, you may need to spend a bit more time qualifying the person before moving on.
        • Qualification question examples:
          • What’s your biggest struggle in __________?” You want to pinpoint the struggle of getting to the goal you already agreed on. For me, that could be “what’s your biggest marketing struggle?” or “what do you struggle with most in attracting new clients?”.
          • “What are your plans to ______________?” You want to get to their big, burning desire. So, for me, that could be “what are your plans to sell out your offer next month?”.
      • Type 2: What Didn’t Work Questions
        • These questions are designed to get to the heart of what your prospect struggles with, AND you’ll get a little sneak peek at the stories they tell themselves about what’s possible. It’s important that you get into at least one question here because this is where some resistance to buying/working with you is hiding.
        • What didn’t work question examples:
          • What are 1 or 2 things you’ve tried to _________ to reach your goal? So, for me, that could be What have you already tried to attract and convert clients?
          • How much time are you wasting each day/week/month trying to ________? For me, that would be: how much time are you wasting each week trying to market and attract clients only to find out your efforts don’t work?

  • Step #3: Emotionally connect to what their problem is costing them right now.
    • This is where this laying the groundwork really pays off and where you start to build urgency for your offer.
    • People make decisions based on meaning and emotion and justify those decisions based on logic and reason.
    • You have to get them to FEEL what’s at stake. FEEL what it’s like to be stuck. WANT to fix their situation.
    • Until you can get to the point where you ask these real questions, you will struggle to sell. If you stay in the first type of questions where you’re just talking about clarifying their desires, your prospects will NEVER move forward.
    • You need to take them through all three types of questions — in this order — to have truly successful sales calls. Each bucket of questions builds on the following question, so by the time you get to type 3 questions, you’ve got someone who is super clear about what they want AND what isn’t working.
    • In type 3 questions, you get into what this is costing your prospect to wait. This cost is about more than money and could be any number of things:
      • Lost money
      • Spending too much money
      • Lost time
      • Lost joy
      • Lost excitement
      • Lost security
    • You MUST know what the emotional driver is for your audience so that you can ask the right questions to help them have an a-ha about the REAL cost of not solving the problem you are talking to them about.
    • Emotional connection question examples:
      • How much time and money have you spent trying and figure out a solid marketing strategy on your own?
      • If you had someone to coach you on exactly what marketing will attract your ideal audience, how much more money would be you able to make each month?
    • You need to figure out what those urgency drivers are for your own business and your own offer. Once you do that, you’ll notice a dramatic shift in your calls and the commitment of your new clients.
    • Get the Discovery Call Planner Cheat Sheet right here.
    • Want to know which marketing funnel is right for you and your business? Take this free and easy quiz, and in less than 5 minutes you’ll know EXACTLY which funnel is right for you.


Links mentioned in this episode:

Marketing Funnel Quiz: https://www.michellelevans.com/marketing-funnel-quiz