Discovery Call: What You Need to Know
June 11, 2021
The Discovery Call is that introductory meeting where you, as a freelancer, get to discover the challenges faced by the customer and the solutions they seek to implement. In this video, with Bradley Rice, we go through how we prepare for and conduct Discovery Calls.
Listening: What The Salesforce Discovery Call is About
There are a few crucial pieces of the agenda, as discussed in the video. There are many different strategies that can be followed. Some can be more complex with very specific questions in a checklist-like format that one is expected to get all of the answers for. The main goal of a Discovery Call is to listen. There will be other calls where you can get more technical, but the reality is that during a discovery call, you may only get one or two individuals on the call, and it’s more about the basics of the project than a deep dive.
Therefore, based on experience, using a complex checklist can be detrimental to letting a conversation flow. You never know where the conversation might take you, and its important to let them air their challenges so you can start to get an idea of the bigger picture. So to prepare for a Discovery Call, one of the many methods discussed is the ChAMP method: Challenges, Authority, Money and Priority.
The ChAMP Method for Salesforce Consultants
The idea is to be able to walk away with at the very least a basic understanding of those four categories. “Challenges” is the easy one: tell us what you’re hoping that Salesforce can solve for you that your company is struggling with today. Here you can sit back and listen, but poke around and understand how the current setup is, what are they currently using, what’s working well that they may want to keep, what isn’t working well that needs to be re-engineered, and so forth.
Money is simply said budget. And until “budget” becomes a curse word, do not hesitate to ask for it. You may not get a numeric response, but what you get may be an important insight. If they indicate that they have a budget but they don’t want to share, that’s not necessarily a bad sign (at least there’s some preparation). If there is no notion of what the budget is, perhaps a red flag there, which we will cover in future posts.
Authority is the next category, which basically states: who is the decision maker. It can be taboo to flatout ask the question, but you can certainly ask easier questions like “Who else will participate in this project?”, or “Is there anyone in particular that needs to see this before moving forward?”. Understand if it’s one final person or if there are a group of people involved, so you can make sure to have the right people involved throughout the sales process.
Finally, Priority. This is the timeline to get started. Similar to money, the answer you may get can have an indicative clue to how prepared and how well organized they are as clients. As funny as it may be to say “I need it yesterday”, it is a bit of a red flag if there’s truth to the joke. People that have solid and realistic deadlines are good signs. Also, extremely important to know how urgent this may be for them if there is a current system being used that has an upcoming contract expiration date, where they need to be on the new platform before that contract expires.
The Agenda Itself
By this point in the article, you know 90% of what needs to be discussed. The rest is very simple. But because no formal structure has been implemented, here is a great way to agenda your Discovery Call conversation:
- Opening 5 minutes: Ask them if they want an intro from your side (that doesn’t take longer than five minutes). Remember that they may have already done research on you, so give them the courtesy to opt out and prevent yourself from sounding like a broken record.
- The next 10-15 minutes: Here is your ChAMP method at work. Remember you should be listening here. Questions should be merely to guide them in the direction you’re interested in getting more elaboration. This should be 80% them talking, and you’re just taking your notes and starting to see the bigger picture.
- Final 5 minutes: Next Steps. And this is crucial. So crucial it deserves it’s own header.
The Discovery Call is the first opportunity you get to talk to your prospect. And ultimately, it doesn’t matter if they have trillions of dollars in budget or if they are looking for extremely clever low budget solutions to their challenges, but the reality of it is that they won’t buy from you if they don’t trust you. And Next Steps is your opportunity to start building that trust. Agree on next steps, make sure there’s a date on the calendar for you to follow up with them. And meet that deadline!! This is you already making commitments and delivering on your commitments, paving the road to a relationship of trust so by the time you deliver on your pre-sales promises, they are left with a great impression on your professionalism.
One can only conclude that if you are this professional and diligent on the initial calls, that the quality of the work will be the same.
The Discovery Call is your chance to leave a good first impression. There are many strategies that can be applied and no two discovery calls are the same. But if you’re not positive on how to carry out a discovery call, the template above should be useful. From our hosts of the video, here are some final thoughts for your consideration.
Bradley Rice’s Input on the Discovery Call
Remember that this is not a billable part of the job, so the times and agenda need to be precise. It helps when possible to make sure the right people are in the room for this meeting to be effective and avoid future meetings for further clarification on the project needs. Crucially, this is where you get to understand why they need your help, so as a freelancer, you can set up a mental map on how your work can benefit them. Ultimately the goal during the Discovery Call is to get enough information to tell the client what you, as a consultant, think is going to work to fix their pains, but without going into much detail (yet).
Erick Mahle’s Input on the Discovery Call
From experience, most of the Discovery Calls will usually be with one person that explains some of the big pain points. It’s important to keep in mind that during these meetings we need to listen more than we need to talk. Avoid solution designing on the fly at all costs as it’s still early on and you may not have the full picture, especially if this is work to be done in an existing Salesforce implementation. But most importantly, avoid sounding robotic and asking questions off a checklist. Make sure you get the concepts that are important to you, and guide the conversation as needed to get the concepts. Ask for them to elaborate if you think you haven’t gotten enough from a particular category (remember your ChAMP)
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