When I first started my nutrition practice back in 2007 I sold single sessions for $150. That 60 – 90 minute session included a complete protocol and a 30 minute follow up. The 30 minute follow up always ended up lasting an hour.
Tack on the 3 to 5 hours I spent creating the protocol (that the client likely didn’t follow) and I ended up making about $20 an hour, which I guess is ok for some but at that rate I wasn’t going to be able to pay my bills.
It wasn’t until a couple of years later that I got smart and created a ‘signature’ program called WOW! Weight Loss that I could run with both my 1:1 and group clients. When I ran it with a 1:1 client, the program was either 6 or 12 weeks depending on their goals.
After I figured out how to sell 6 or 12 week packages I never sold a single 1-off session again. Even my maintenance sessions were packaged into sessions of 4. Being able to invite clients into transformation via a service package changed everything for me.
So if you are selling single sessions STOP IT NOW.
Instead create PACKAGE A and PACKAGE B. Give your potential clients a choice between A or B. It’s a super sweet sales technique I like to call “The A or B Close The Deal Option”. I’ll share more on this later on.
Before we dive into the 7 steps to creating successful discovery calls let’s back up a minute and review what a discovery call is and why it’s important to your sales process.
Oh wait. I said sales process.
Ya, you need a sales process. Because you are selling an outcome — although intangible, you are still selling an outcome. It’s TRANSFORMATION.
And in order to get an on the spot YES! (which means you got a new client) you need to have a structured sales process versus random mentions and haphazard marketing that may or may not lead an interested person to schedule a discovery call with you.
Ok. Let’s get started.
WHAT IS A DISCOVERY CALL?
A discovery call is the first meeting with a person. They are not yet a client. The session is usually offered for free and lasts about 45 to 60 minutes. The goal of the discovery session is to discern whether or not the person would be a good fit to work with you and then invite them into transformation.
The discovery session is successful if A) the person becomes a paying client or B) you decide that they are not a right fit to work with and refer them to someone who is. Not every person who books a discovery call with you will be a good fit. There is no shame in referring them on to someone who can better help them.
The purpose of a discovery call is to:
- Collect personal information and health history
- Understand their problem and how it’s affecting their life
- Listen to what their goals and challenges are
- Assess them
- Invite them into transformation
- Create an empathetic and supportive environment so you can facilitate at least one breakthrough
- Be of service and detach from the outcome
A discovery call is NOT:
- A session where you give them specific and personalized tips on how to ‘heal’.
- A therapy session where you give advice.
- A session where you talk more than you listen.
7 STEPS TO CREATING SUCCESSFUL DISCOVERY CALLS
Think of your discovery calls as only part of your sales process. If you wait until you are actually face to face with the person before you engage with them it will likely result in an objection. The sales process I am about to walk you through can be used to sell any type of service package or group program.
Be open and flexible. Adapt the 7 components to best suit your needs and goals.
STEP 1: Establish Pre-Consultation Credibility.
Step 1 begins AFTER the person has scheduled their discovery call with you. Typically, after a discovery call is booked, you’ll send the person a follow up email that will include any forms you want them to fill out.
Most coaches and practitioners don’t use this ‘in between’ time to establish credibility or build rapport.
This is a mistake.
Instead I want you to use the ‘in between’ time to establish credibility, to build rapport and to educate the person so they become a friend.
In addition to sending forms, you can establish credibility and build rapport by:
Asking open ended, fun and personal questions via email.
Something like “I’d like to get to know you a bit better before we meet. Hit reply and tell me what your favorite tv show is right now.” When they reply to you, make sure that you reply back with friendly banter.
Send them high value content that gives them the ability to have a small win.
Include a link to a helpful blog post, video or interview where you educate them on their problem and give an actionable strategy that they can immediately implement.
STEP 2: SET THE AGENDA
Step 2 happens after the discovery calls starts and you make small talk for the first couple of minutes. When you make small talk try to compliment the prospect. It helps to relax them and diffuse any tension.
You start the discovery session by setting the agenda — which really means you share the next steps and explain exactly what’s going to happen during your time together. Walking the prospect through each phase of the discovery session sets the tone and allays any anxiety the person has because they know what’s coming up.
TIP: Seed the invitation into transformation from the beginning. In other words, tell the prospect that you will be giving them specific recommendations on how you can move forward and work together.
STEP 3: ESTABLISH THE ‘COME FROM’
After you finish communicating the agenda you start to move into the guts (no pun intended) of the discovery call. The first piece of information you want to gather is WHY — why are they sitting across from you now?
The ‘come from’ is their trigger? What triggered them to make the appointment now?
Yes, they have symptoms but they’ve likely had those symptoms for a long time, so why now? This is where you’ll need to dig a bit deeper. It’s important that you understand their motivation and their mindset — what are they thinking and feeling at the point of first contact?
TIP: A good probing question to ask that allows you to go deeper is “why is this important to you?” Then stop talking. Let the prospect talk. Follow up with, “Is there more?”. Then stop talking and just listen.
STEP 4: CREATE THE DREAM OUTCOME
Notice we haven’t gotten into any assessments or health history yet? After you’ve established the prospects ‘come from’ — their why now trigger, you want to understand what their goals are.
There is a gap between where the person is now and where they want to go. In order for you to close the gap (with your program or service package) you need to know where they want to go.
Of course you want to know their goals and what they hope to achieve but more importantly you want to know WHY they want those things. How will having that specific outcome improve the quality of their life?
TIP: Find out the kind of person they want to be and how it would feel to not have the ‘pain’ (the symptoms) anymore. How would their life improve?
STEP 5: USE ASSESSMENTS TO CREATE TENSION
A discovery session IS NOT an intake session! You want to use 1-2 assessment tools like a healthy history form and some physical measurements to help the prospect see and feel the gap — where they are now and where they want to go.
The assessment tools you chose should help to identify the gap, not just identify symptoms.
The assessment tools you chose should help you frame your professional recommendations. They should also give the prospect an idea of the risk factors associated with their current condition.
Defining risk factors and connecting their current symptoms to the bigger picture of what’s really going on creates tension. You want to hold that tension because this is what is going to motivate them to commit to working with you.
TIP: Use at least one physical assessment tool like waist to hip ratio, movement screen, waist circumference, BMI or stress screening regardless of they type of niche you are in. It’s helpful to demonstrate something tangible and have a baseline to measure progress against.
STEP 6: INVITE THEM INTO TRANSFORMATION
This is the part that makes most coaches and practitioners feel like they want to puke — this is the part where you ask for the sale so to speak.
By this point you’ve discussed their ‘come from’ — the why now trigger, their goals and you’ve run them through whatever assessments you feel are most helpful to establish the gap. Now it’s time to invite them into transformation.
You can transition into asking for the sale by starting with recapping the gap — why they are there and where they want to go. Then you give 1 – 2 specific recommendations based on their desired goal.
Focus on communicating WHAT, WHY & HOW.
What is really going on with them.
Why they won’t be able to achieve their goal alone.
How you plan to help them via your system or process.
TIP: After you explain how you are going to help them, you give them two options to work together — OPTION A or B. This way, when you invite the prospect into transformation, they can choose between the two options and it’s not a yes or no answer.
STEP 7: OVERCOME OBJECTIONS
Ah, the old “I need to talk to my spouse” or “I’d like to try it on my own for a bit” objections. We’ve all gotten them. And they suck. Objections are almost always based in fear and come up for a couple of reasons:
- The prospect doesn’t feel the value of what you are offering so the price feels incongruent.
- The person is scared to commit because they’ve failed in the past.
- They don’t really understand how you are going to help them.
- They aren’t in enough ‘pain’ to make changes.
- The prospect doesn’t believe they can actually succeed.
Let’s flip the script on objections and not take them personally. When you get an objection think of it as a ‘tell’ — the prospect is basically telling you where they are stuck. It’s your job to help them work through their fear.
TIP: When an objection comes up, refer back to their goal and communicate the gap — the space between where they are now and where they want to go. The truth is, if they could close the gap on their own they would, but they can’t. They need you. You need to help them feel that.
Feeling comfortable facilitating discovery sessions takes practice. The more you do them the better you get at them. Commit to giving a specific number of discovery sessions per week — offer them to anyone and everyone you can think of. If you need the practice then don’t be shy about it.
The only way to get better is to practice. Now I’d love to hear from you in the comments. What is holding you back from offering discovery sessions?