Why new client discovery calls aren’t working for you (and how to fix it)

Everyone who’s anyone with high-paying freelance clients always seems to say the same thing:

Get prospects on the phone.

Talk to them.

Make yourself stand out with a conversation.

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So, you do.

You get brave, and start asking client prospects to get on the phone with you.

You have the nerve-racking, sweat-through-your-shirt conversations because all of those successful freelancers swore THIS was the way to landing more clients, so you put your faith in it.

Except…. you’re not really getting hired any more than you already were.

In fact, some conversations feel so awkward, you could swear they actually hurt your chances of getting hired.

So…. what’s the deal?

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Why, if this is the “magic bullet,” are clients still not hiring you despite following this advice?  

The thing is, while getting prospects on the phone IS a great way to land more deals, it’s all about the flow and the command of the conversation. And if you don’t have that down pat, those sweat-through-your-shirt conversations aren’t going to do much for you.

1. Command of the conversation

When clients don’t hire you, it’s usually because they step into the interviewer role. And when someone acts as an interviewer, they’re actively looking for reasons to be critical of you—which we don’t want to happen.

So when you show up for the call, you should be the boss of the conversation—no matter who set the meeting.

Rather than letting the client jump on and drill you with job interview-type questions, you need to be the one asking questions.

If you’re unsure where to start, a good first question is, “Okay, so why don’t you tell me a little more about _[project]_ and why you wanted to hire someone like me to help you?”

This way, you put them in a receptive mode where they’re open to your help, rather than a defensive mode where they’re drilling you to decide whether or not you’re “up to scratch” or not.

(They already know you’re up to scratch, that’s why they decided to talk to you. No need to revisit that conversation.)

Plus, by staying in command of the conversation & being the one to ask the questions, you get to extract the information you need. This lets you offer services best-suited to their goals and their budget, making you more of a respected consultant than “just” a freelancer.

2. Goals + statistics + price anchoring = success

Another reason freelancers don’t get hired after the discovery call is because of price.

The thing is though, you don’t have to discount your services just to land deals here. You can be the most expensive option and still get hired, if you know how to direct the conversation.

So after you’ve started the conversation, one of the first things you want to do is ask them about their goals.

And guys, make them get specific.

Throwaway answers like “growth” won’t get you or them anywhere. Push them for specific numbers… you’ll both be better off because of it. (And trust me, clients respect freelancers who do this more than those who are just order-takers.)

Then, ask them about their current stats in comparison to those goals.

If it’s an income goal, how far away from that goal are they? Is it a result of getting too few conversions from their marketing? Or do they get enough conversions, but need help reaching more people?

With this information, assess where can you step in and most effectively help them.

Ideally, they’ll have an income goal, and if you do the math with them, you may find out that your work together can far exceed that income goal.

And only after you have information about their goals, how you can best help them, and how much money it will help them make in the long-run, should you disclose your prices.

(If clients try to get the price out of you up front, tell them you need a little more information about the work you’ll be doing to give it to them. Then follow the steps above.)

Usually, even if you’re a high-priced freelancer, the cost of your services in comparison to the payoff will be a no-brainer.

3. Ask them what it’s worth

This comes back to the first step of making sure they don’t enter a critical mindset while talking to you, and are instead receptive to your help.

And honestly, when you ask this question, you’re not always looking for a numerical value.

In fact, sometimes the emotional responses are the better ones. What you’re doing is reminding your client of the bigger picture, and why all this work is worth it in the long run.

You can frame it like, “What would making $##,### more per month be worth to you?” or “What would being able to hire a VA with your higher revenue be worth to you?” or whatever their end goal is.

But beyond reminding them of the importance of achieving their goal, you’re also getting to know them better as a fellow human being.

Which almost always means you relate to them better and can do better work for them… so it’s a win-win all around. (Not to mention, you’re gaining their trust since most freelancers won’t ask this.)

Better discovery calls have 3 simple rules:

  1. Taking command of the conversation by asking questions right away.
  2. Finding out their goals and statistics so you can calculate price anchoring for them.
  3. Asking them what it’s all worth in the bigger picture.  

Do these three simple things, and the old “getting them on the phone” advice suddenly makes more sense and actually has the results you want it to.


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