Discovery calls (also known as ‘client calls’ and ‘clarity calls’) are one-to-one calls (usually conducted online via video tools such as Zoom, Skype or Google Meet but can be via telephone) between a prospective client and a freelancer.
They usually take place once a client has shown an interest in your services and form part of the client onboarding process. They are useful because you get to ‘meet’ your potential client to ‘discover’ how you can help them and make sure you’re both a good fit.
These calls make sense for a range of freelancers, such as freelance writers, graphic artists, consultants and website developers, to name just a few.
Despite being common, discovery calls can be nerve-wracking for freelancers regardless of whether they are just starting out or seasoned pros.
With that in mind, here are 7 top tips to help you navigate a successful discovery call and win freelance clients.
1. Mindset before the call
It’s important to be in the right frame of mind before the call so you aren’t unintentionally projecting any fears or doubts onto your potential client during the call.
Discovery calls shouldn’t be scary – they are opportunities for you to help another party.
They aren’t about asking for money for your services – they are about building a rapport and seeing if you are both the right fit.
So before the call, put yourself in a positive frame of mind by reminding yourself that you are helping, you have value, and your skills and expertise are valuable. You are the prize!
2. Research your client
In the same way you’d research a prospective employer before a job interview, you should take the time before the call to research your client.
A little bit of detective work before the call will not only give you a good idea of who you’re dealing with but show that you mean business too.
Giving your prospective client an authentic compliment on something they’ve achieved in their business is also a nice opener.
3. Don’t lose control of the call
If a client asks you a question you are unsure about or you find uncomfortable answering, it’s perfectly fine to say that you don’t know, but you’ll find out and come back to them.
The discovery call is a friendly conversation between two people to explore if you are the right fit for one another, so don’t let it become an interrogation.
4. Briefly explain your process (and stick to the time slot)
It’s important that you have a process in place for discovery calls and stick to it.
So right at the beginning, it’s helpful to go over the purpose of the call and state the meeting duration.
Know what you are going to cover and state it upfront. You could even have an aide-memoire on hand so you remember what to cover. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy. It could simply be in the form of a sticky note on your desk.
It’s advisable to stick to the time allotted for the call. Even if you’re getting on like a house on fire, this sets the proper boundaries straight away, confers that your time is valuable and you value theirs too.
Remember – time is money!
5. Listen – let them do the talking
Actively listen to what is being said and take notes.
If the client agrees, consider recording the session or make use of a transcript tool. The notes will come in valuable later when summarizing the call in your proposal and quote.
You’ll be surprised how much you can forget from a call – even if it’s only 15 minutes long.
6. Repeat back the conversation
After listening to their needs, to ensure you know exactly what they want, repeat the conversation back to them. So you can say something like:
“Just to summarize. From our call, I understand you are looking for help with X so that the outcome will be Y.”
“To clarify, you want X by Y date.”
This will filter out any potential misunderstandings and help you write your proposal and quote.
7. Tell them when they can expect to hear from you and what happens next
It’s important to let the client know what happens next and when they will hear from you.
In other words, when will they receive your written proposal and quote? When will you be sending the initial deposit invoice?
Give them a time frame and stick to it.
Fortunately, online invoice tools like Invoice Ninja make sending quotes and invoices simple, quick and easy, with plenty of customizable professional service invoice templates to choose from. You can try it for free here.
So, to clarify – to ensure your discovery call is a success:
- Get in the right frame of mind before the call
- Conduct client research
- Don’t lose control of the call
- Have a process – and stick to it!
- Actively listen
- Repeat back the conversation
- Manage expectations and get back to them when you say you will