Let’s be real with each other for a second, friend. I’m gonna assume you wouldn’t feel super comfortable paying someone big bucks to do a job for you without meeting them in real life first, right?

And if you wouldn’t, it’s pretty likely your potential clients feel the same way!

One of the easiest ways to get to know people before they buy is to run a discovery call. Referred to as a booking call, an inquiry session, or a free consultation by some biz owners, the discovery call is a gold standard for successful small businesses everywhere.

But before you go getting intimidated by the thought of having to sell something over the virtual airwaves, I’ve got the ultimate discovery call cheat sheet to help you run your future meetings with ease + vet every inquiry before you book a thing!

Booking Intake Forms for the WIN

There’s nothing worse than setting up a discovery call with someone who is the complete opposite of your ideal client, but unfortunately, it happens to the best of us.

You know the drill: you get the booking in your schedule, you set that time aside and prep what you’ll say, maybe a few minutes before you slap some mascara on and run a brush through your hair (look at you, ya pro!), and then, it’s off to the races. 

> Only the person you’re meeting isn’t actually suited for the services you offer.
> They can’t afford anything you’re selling.
> Their timelines and expectations don’t match up with your availability…like, at all.

It’s kind of a disaster. And worse than that, it’s a huge waste of time (not to mention MASCARA).

Easiest way to avoid all of the above? A booking intake form.

Before I jump on a Zoom, a Google Hang, an *insert virtual meeting platform of your choice here*, I send all leads to my intake form, where they answer a series of questions to help me understand whether or not we’re a loose fit. 

As you put together your form, think about the stuff you like knowing before working with someone!

As you put together your form, think about the stuff you like knowing before working with someone!

These 3 vetting questions are my personal faves:

  1. What are your top social media goals over the next 3 months?
  2. What are you struggling with the most when it comes to social media?
  3. Have you outsourced social media management before? If not, why is now the time?

Based on their answers, I can immediately tell whether or not the discovery call will end in an easy sale. I can spot red flags, draw on their goals to help me prep, and address the same struggles they’ve been facing lately in their business when we do meet.

How to Run Your Discovery Call

Ok, so you’ve set your intake process into motion. Your booking form has been filled, the answers look good, and you feel totally pumped to meet your new lead — the only thing left to do is host the discovery call!

But how exactly are you supposed to do that? 

Step 1: Listen More Than You Talk

One of the best tips I’ve ever received was from business coach Jessa Glover, who explained that you need to STFU when you’re on a discovery call. She even writes this little “note to self” on a piece of paper to be sure she lets the potential client talk.

Most social media managers and other small biz owners tend to think they need to do ALL the talking, but the whole point of the call is to get to know your lead. Once you hear directly from them what they’re looking for, it becomes a lot easier to explain how you can help with those struggles.

The key to listening more than you talk is to ask awesome questions for people to answer!

Ask them about their business.

Ask them what their needs are and what kind of expectations they might have for your services.

And while they answer, you’ll quickly start to get to know their personality.

Step 2: Make Notes of Keywords

While you chat away with your potential client, make a note of the phrases or words they keep coming back to when answering questions. I love to write them down and circle them so I can then say these words back to them and share how I can help.

If someone says to you, “I find social media to be so time-consuming,” circle the phrase and mention later how you totally get what a time suck it can be when it’s just one of many things on their business plate. 

Using the language they’ve already touched on, you directly hit on the benefits that resonate the most with them instead of wasting time on the stuff they don’t care about!

Step 3: Save Your Client’s Day

Ready to look like a social media management HERO? Once you’ve got all the info you need to seal the deal (and you feel it’s a good fit), go ahead and share the package you think is best for them and, don’t forget to share the benefits.

This is the moment in your discovery call where you explain the WHY behind your offers.

Objections, who?

A great way to go about this is to share a transformation of a former or current client who experienced the same problems or desired the same things they do! Relate it all to the wants and needs they’ve been expressing on the call.

Your potential client will instantly feel like you get them + you’ll start to build that all-important trust.

After you make the offer, stop talking! Too much chatter leads to confusion, and the last thing you want is for someone to leave with their head in circles! Just end the pitch with a simple “what are your thoughts?” and wait for their response.

Some clients will want to move on to the next step (as in SIGNING THE CONTRACT!) by the end of your discovery session, while others need a bit more time. Read the room and leave them with a next step — never a goodbye — and follow up with a project outline, a contract or a second call time.

Keeping Your Discovery Call on Track

If there’s one thing most small business owners struggle with in the discovery call, it’s keeping it from turning into a mini-coaching session!

So, how do you make sure you don’t go over time or give away too much? 

Remind who you’re meeting with how much time you’ve got together (once at the top and again after they’ve answered your questions). 

It’s super easy to get carried away, but spending more than 30 minutes on a free call is overkill unless that warm lead is fire hot. Leave the extras for your follow up game!

Ready to create and run a discovery call on your own? Grab my Discovery Call Cheat Sheet for more guidance, including the 3 questions I always ask + what to do after you hang up!