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3 Steps to Nail Your Next Discovery Session and Win More Business

Getting leads for your business is really hard. In fact, it could be one of the most difficult things that you have to do every day.

We do many things to generate new leads – we publish ads, make cold calls, send out email campaigns, pull all-nighters, do great work for little to no money. When you do get a lead, you get confused like a guy not expecting a yes from a really cute girl he just asked out for a date.

Once a lead comes in, your hard work to get to this point can be either rewarded or ruined. It all depends on one thing – your discovery session.

What is a discovery session?

A discovery session is the first meeting you have with your lead once they’ve expressed interest for your product or service. As the name suggests, this is when you discover several things:

-   Who the client is

-   What their pain points are

-   What they really need vs. what they say they need

-   When they need the work done

-   What additional details you can include in your offer to make it more attractive

One of the many things we do behind the scenes is talk to the people using our software about their own discovery sessions. Also, a large part of the Better Proposals team has worked freelance before joining the company and we’ve had quite a few discovery sessions on our own.

I’ve decided to put together all of this knowledge in one blog post to help you have better discovery sessions with your own clients.

There are only three elements of every good discovery session that you need to get right:

1  The first impressions

2  Questions

3  The next steps

Here is what each of them means for your discovery session and how to do them properly.

1. The first impressions in your discovery session

A lot of this section is common sense, but it’s worth mentioning it in any case. A nice, firm handshake coupled with some good clothes and clear speaking can go a long way. However, this is just a start to nailing your discovery session.

First, your meeting location. One of the biggest traps that you can set for yourself is meeting the client at their own location, be it an office or some other place. If you’re meeting the client in their office, they will be far too distracted to pay attention to you – they will pay more attention to the phone or their coworkers. Moreover, this requires no effort on their part – all you have to do is show up. Therefore, you should do something else.

Instead, just meet them somewhere neutral, in a location you’re both unfamiliar with. Most people will agree to this without hesitation. In reality, it will be a place that you know very well so you can feel more comfortable.

Here is your first chance to stand out. Don’t just pick any old coffee shop or your local McDonalds. This is such a poor choice that you may as well go to their place instead. One of the tricks you can use is to invite the client to a luxury hotel reception area or a lobby. These places are usually huge and they’re beautifully decorated and laid out.

The hotel lobby doesn’t just look nice but it also puts them in a completely different mindset. You are the one running the meeting, not them, and the location is a good way to point this out.

Moreover, you can play this to your own advantage. Make sure you always choose the same location for your discovery sessions. That way, you can make sure that you have enough time to prepare so you can arrive early, choose a nice, quiet table, order a drink and get yourself settled. You’ll have a calmer demeanor and you’ll be in control of the situation.

After you’ve had a successful meeting and started off your discovery session, you can stick around and see them on their way out. This is the ideal chance for you to write your business proposal. Also, always pick up the bill.

How to write a business proposal

The only possible exception to this rule would be if you really need to see their office for the purposes of making your offer. However, some of the logic from this section still applies.

Moreover, if you work remotely, you're probably hopping a video call so these tips don't really apply.

2. The questions to ask during your meeting

Asking the right questions in your discovery session makes all the difference. I will give you a list of questions you can ask, but you can go with the flow and follow the general plan of action instead. If you’ve had client meetings before and you know your way around them, these aren’t necessary. Otherwise, it’s great to start out with a list.

Discovery session agenda

You want to find out the following:

-   What they’re trying to do and the real reason why they’re buying

-   What it will cost them if they don’t do anything and leave the situation as is

-   What the benefits are if you fix their problem and it works out perfectly

If you can get just these three things right, you’re in a great position and one step closer to work out how to help them. However, you may get super stuck with nowhere to go, which is when you need to pull out these questions.

Discovery session questions

-   What made you decide that this is something that will change your business?

-   Why did you choose me over my competitors?

-   Have you tried to fix this problem on your own?

-   How long has this problem been bothering you?

-   Presume you do nothing about it for 3, 6 or 12 months, what difference is it going to make for your business?

-   If you had fixed this problem 6 months ago, what difference would have it made for you today?

-   Is there a reason why you haven’t fixed this sooner?

-   Do you have a budget for fixing this problem?

-   If all goes perfectly, when do you imagine this being done?

-   When do you want to make a decision and get the ball rolling?

These are all great questions to get your relationship started. I also have a bonus question prepared:

-   What is the number one method you will use to make a decision? Will you be guided by finances only or something else?

You could try suggesting that the client would make their decision based on the cheapest provider. The reason was simple – they would always say that I was wrong. If you don’t mention it, they can be thinking about it themselves. Say it out loud and they will have to prove you wrong.

They may even say that they want the cheapest option, at which point you can tell them to stop and that you’re not going to be that cheapest option. At this point of the discovery session, you’re just having an honest conversation about money, which is perfectly fine.

One major part of a discovery session is to “feel their pulse” and see what they think about different prices. One way you can do it is to make a statement like “Typically projects like this can range from $7,000 to $20,000”. If you can say this slowly enough, you can spot their reaction at the higher number.

At this point, they’re ready to talk about their budget. They might end up saying something like “We don’t want to spend $20,000, but we could probably stretch to $15,000”. Good news – you now know their top end.

By using the questions I mentioned, you can get a great idea of what they want, how they want it delivered and what they’re willing to pay. This information is worth pure gold when writing your business proposal.

3. Agreeing about the next steps

This is a very straightforward step, but one that people leave out pretty often. Based on the questions mentioned above, you should get a good idea about when they need their project done. Moreover, you will know when they want to decide on whether to work with you or not. That way, you have a starting point and you can decide on a time when you want to follow up with them.

Remember one thing: you’re not following up because you’re hungry for their business and money. You’re following up because you want to make sure that they get their project done on time. For example, you can say something like this:

“You want to be done by Christmas, so we can launch on January 1st, which is a great plan. It’s going to take around 8 weeks - let’s say 10 for contingency. This means that we need to have all the information we need from you so we can start working on October 15th. It’s the 5th of October today so really, we need to be signed and sorted in a week from now. Are you happy for me to help you keep to these timeframes?”

When you put it like this, you’re the one helping them get what they want. You’re flipping the situation so it’s not about you – it’s about giving them exactly what they want, as quickly as you can.

Wrapping up your discovery session

In reality, discovering what your clients really want isn’t rocket science. When you are armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to get all the right information quickly and easily. If not, you’ll waste your time in your client meetings without asking for their budget and you’ll end up revealing yourself and ruining your chances of conversion.

Use the ideas mentioned here and combine them with your industry, offer, style and personality and you’ll be miles ahead of the competition. You will know what they want and how to help them choose you over the rest of the competitors.

As time goes by and you have more discovery sessions, you will crack the code and client meetings will become a breeze for you. And once you have all the information, it’s time to write the perfect business proposal. The information will help you win half the battle, and the other half is in the proposal format and design. We can take care of that with our proposal software and one of our numerous proposal templates.

Win more business

If you would like to give our software a try and start creating beautiful, high-converting proposals today, sign up today and win more business with ease!

Adam Hempenstall's profile image
Adam Hempenstall is the CEO and Founder of Better Proposals. He started his first web design business at 14 and has since written four books and built an international movement around sending better proposals. Having helped his customers win $500,000,000 in the last 12 months alone, he’s launched the first ever Proposal University where he shares best practices on writing and designing proposals. He co-runs a once-a-year festival called UltraMeet and is a massive FC Barcelona fan.