Discovery calls are either the first or second call you have with a prospective client to get a sense of their needs and the outcomes that they hope to see. It is critical to correctly determine the scope of the work, their expectations, and the appropriate pricing – all in a single call.
Let’s run through a few *do’s and don’ts to get the most out of these calls:
- Do send a pre-call questionnaire. You can use whatever tool is easiest for you (ie. Google Doc, Typeform, or email) and then request that the client complete it within 24 hours before your call. This will enable you to spend less time on surface-level questions and dig into the good stuff on the call. It will also weed-out any price shoppers. Check out CPA Kristin Ingram’s questionnaire at the end of this PDF.
- Do use a call-scheduling software. Softwares like Calendly integrate with Zoom and your Google Calendar. They also make it extremely easy for new clients to schedule appointments with you.
- Do dive deeper. Come prepared with a list of questions that dig below surface-level to understand why certain problems might be arising for them. Are they using outdated tools? Are they not tracking expenditures as meticulously as they should? Getting a deeper understanding of the flaws in their current systems will help you and them later on. If you use the pre-call questionnaire method, come prepared with a list of tailored follow-up questions.
- Do listen more than you talk. Let the client take the lead and describe – in depth – the pain points and problems they’re encountering. Resist the urge to sell your firm’s services for too long.
- Do determine if they’re a good fit. This will become clear quickly (especially if you use the pre-call questionnaire) but stay cognizant of whether you’re actually a good match for each other and adapt your script accordingly.
- Don’t make it a race. A discovery call has to get you and a new client completely on the same page. To do effectively this in 15-20 minutes would be a heroic feat – and maybe involve some ESP. Ryan Lazanis of Future Firm recommends 45 minutes to 1 hour for these calls but if you want to keep them a bit shorter, experiment with using a pre-call questionnaire so you can spend less time on surface-level questions in the actual call.
- Don’t gab on about your firm/value prop. Lazanis also recommends keeping the salesy-type talk to a minimum; he suggests to save only 5-10 minutes at the end of the call for offering the selling points of working with you.
- Don’t go into advice mode. Similar to listening more than you talk, try to avoid going into advice mode; you’re only just getting the gist of their situations and issues. It’s reasonable to want to offer value immediately but doing so too quickly could backfire on you – you could misunderstand their problem or make them feel like a carbon copy of your other clients rather than acknowledging the nuance of their situation.
- Don’t use jargon. Try to avoid using too much technical jargon and narrowing in on specifics. This is more so the time to highlight broad solutions and overarching advantages to hiring a CPA. Using too much jargon off the bat could also alienate new clients who are only now dipping their toes into the world of accounting.
*Check out the awesome resources which inspired this post:
- This bite-sized podcast from Ryan Lazanis of Future Firm is chalk-full of useful tidbits.
- This PDF from Kristin Ingram also covers a ton of good insights and includes an example pre-call screening tool.
- Lastly, this article from Use Pixie talks avoiding price-shoppers.