Once you’ve found some people to help (prospects) and assured them that there is value in meeting with you (so you won’t waste their time), it is time to schedule a Client Discovery Session. — a meeting where you’ll actually uncover some areas where your talents, skills, and resources overlap an opportunity to help your prospect solve some problems and/or help them take advantage of some profitable opportunities.
Discovery sessions are a place to ask smart questions and listen to your prospect’s answers
Discovery sessions are not a place for you to bore the prospect with details about how long you’ve been in business or how much money your company has invested in technology and equipment back at your office. If the prospect really wanted to know that stuff about you, they would have looked it up on your website or read that brochure you gave them (spoiler alert: they threw it away).
The first couple of questions in a Client Discovery Session might be you asking clarifying questions about the customers your prospect serves, how they are approaching some specific challenges in their industry, and perhaps a personal question about how your contact found their way into the role they have within the company.
Under no circumstances should these questions be about topics you can find answers for on their website or in a simple Google search.
At this point a few questions should be about any previously mentioned projects or problems they wanted to discuss with you when the meeting was scheduled. Let’s say they wanted to speak with you about a marketing campaign. Ask them about what they wanted to promote, about the goals for the campaign, and the results they hoped to achieve. Let them talk about the project from their current perspective. Take notes. Make marks next to statements you want to dive in deeper on.
Once the prospect gets all the details out that they wanted to share, they may start asking about price or how soon before they can get a proposal from you. Now is the time you begin to ask the really smart questions. The provocative questions that they won’t have a default answer for, may need to research an answer and get back to you later, and certainly questions that literally make them say to you:
No one has ever asked me that before.”
Here are a few questions I might ask in a Client Discovery Session about a marketing project…
- Who is your favorite kind of customer to work with?
Who do you serve better than anyone else in your industry?
- What kind of business do you wish you had more of?
Not just any work to pay the bills, but the work that really highlights the value your company delivers to its clients.
- Which of your products or services are the most popular?
The ones you sell more than any other — the ones that are most requested by your clients.
- Which of your products/services are the most profitable?
You may not sell a lot of them, but when you do, it’s going to be a good month!
I let them take as long as they like to answer these questions while I furiously scribble down notes.
The prospect may have invited me in to discuss a generic branding campaign that typically delivers very little in the way of attributed sales and significant ROI, but the answers elicited by my questions begin to form a very specific campaign that will target their ideal customers who are in need of the most profitable services offered by my prospect.
A campaign like the one that begins to form in my mind with stand out from anything a competing marketing company might offer because I discovered vital information I can use to create a proposal that I know will appeal to the prospect because they told me who they like to work with and what kind of work they like to perform. A campaign built on a solid foundation like this is easier to track and measure what is working (as well as what is not working) so the campaign can be tweaked along the way to constantly improve the results.
What are some smart questions you can ask in your Discovery sessions?
Create a deep-cut list of questions that will force your customer to pause and think a bit before answering. Questions that prompt responses you can use to craft a custom proposal that speaks directly to the heart and mind of your prospect — not a cookie cutter single page spam sales sheet that your competitors have been blasting out via email to any person that hasn’t unsubscribed from their database (yet).
Use Client Discovery Sessions to discover something new about your prospect’s business and where they need help — and your prospects will discover a little bit more about you and the value you bring to the business relationship.