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Mastering Discovery Calls: The Coach’s Guide to Engaging Potential Clients

Understanding the Discovery Call

As a coach, your discovery call is the gateway to new coaching relationships. It’s more than just a preliminary chat; it’s a strategic engagement where you unearth the needs, aspirations, and challenges of a potential client. The purpose of a discovery call is multifaceted. It’s your opportunity to:

– Understand the client’s current situation and goals.

– Assess if there’s a mutual fit between your coaching style and their needs.

– Build rapport and trust that pave the way for a successful coaching relationship.


In essence, discovery calls are where first impressions are formed and where potential clients decide if your coaching is the solution they’ve been seeking. 


 The Do’s and Don’ts of Discovery Calls


  1. Do Prepare: Familiarise yourself with any information the client has provided beforehand. Understand their background and tailor your approach.
  2. Do Create a Welcoming Atmosphere: Begin the call with warmth and openness. Make your client feel comfortable and valued.
  3. Do Listen Actively: Pay close attention to what the client says. Active listening helps you understand their needs and shows your genuine interest.
  4. Do Maintain Professionalism: While being friendly is important, maintaining a professional demeanour establishes credibility.
  5. Do Guide the Conversation: Use your questions to steer the conversation, ensuring it remains focused and productive.



  1. Don’t Dominate the Conversation: The call should be client-centered. Spend more time listening than talking.
  2. Don’t Avoid the Money Talk: Be transparent about your fees. Addressing this early on sets clear expectations.
  3. Don’t Forget to Prequalify: Use a pre-call form to ensure the potential client aligns with your services.
  4. Don’t Ignore Red Flags: Pay attention to any signs that the client may not be the right fit for your coaching style.
  5. Don’t Leave Without a Next Step: Conclude the call with a clear call-to-action, whether it’s scheduling a follow-up or signing up for a session.


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 The Importance of Preparation

Preparation is the linchpin that holds together an effective discovery call. It’s not just about having a list of questions; it’s about entering the call with a clear, focused strategy. This preparation involves both understanding your potential client and aligning your mindset to foster a successful engagement.


Why Preparation Matters:

– Builds Confidence: Preparation breeds confidence. Knowing that you have done your homework and have a plan in place allows you to navigate the call with assurance and poise.

– Enhances Personalisation: Each client is unique, and your preparation should reflect this. Tailoring your approach based on what you know about the client demonstrates that you value and respect their individual journey.

– Facilitates Deeper Connection: When you are prepared, you’re able to go beyond surface-level conversation. This depth is crucial in building a connection that can lead to a long-term coaching relationship.

– Improves Problem-Solving: A well-prepared coach can more effectively identify and address the specific challenges and goals of the client, showcasing their ability to provide real solutions.

– Reduces Anxiety: For many coaches, especially those new to the profession, discovery calls can be nerve-wracking. Preparation helps alleviate this anxiety, providing a sense of control and readiness.


Mindset Preparation:

Preparing your mindset involves more than just gearing up to speak about your coaching services. It’s about cultivating an attitude of service, empathy, and active listening. This mental preparation positions you as a guide and ally, rather than just a service provider.

– Cultivate a Mindset of Service: Remind yourself that this call could be the start of a transformative journey for the client. Your role is to facilitate, not just to sell.

– Embrace Empathy: Empathy allows you to connect on a deeper level. Understanding and sharing the feelings of your client can create a strong bond.

– Cultivate Confidence: Believe in the value of your coaching. Confidence in your abilities will resonate with the client.


Practical Preparation:

Practical preparation involves the tangible steps you take before the call. This includes reviewing any available information about the client and setting clear objectives for what you want to achieve during the call.

– Personalise Your Approach: Review any pre-call information provided by the client. This might include responses to a pre-call questionnaire or notes from previous interactions.

– Set Clear Objectives: Determine what you want to achieve during the call. This could be understanding the client’s challenges, discussing potential coaching plans, or simply building rapport.

– Prepare Your Questions: Have a list of open-ended questions ready to guide the conversation.


 High-Quality Questioning: The Key to Discovery Call Success

In the world of coaching, questions are more than just inquiries; they’re tools that unlock the true potential of your clients. However, many coaches struggle with asking the right questions during discovery calls, either due to nerves or a lack of preparation. This often leads to surface-level conversations that fail to uncover the depth of a client’s needs.

The Art of Crafting Impactful Questions

  1. Avoid Yes or No Questions: 

   – Open-ended questions invite elaboration and insight. They encourage clients to reflect and provide more than just a simple answer.

   – Example: Instead of asking “Do you feel stressed at work?” try “What aspects of your work are currently contributing to your stress?”


  1. Tailor Questions to Client Needs: 

   – Each client comes with a unique set of challenges and goals. Tailor your questions to resonate with their specific situation.

   – Example: For a client struggling with work-life balance, ask “How does your current work schedule impact your personal life?”


  1. Encourage Exploration: 

   – Questions should encourage clients to think deeply and explore their thoughts and feelings.

   – Example: “What does your ideal work-life balance look like, and what’s stopping you from achieving it?


 The Power of Active Listening in Discovery Calls

Active listening is a skill that many coaches underestimate during discovery calls. It’s not just about hearing words; it’s about understanding the emotion and intention behind them. The failure to actively listen can lead to miscommunication and missed opportunities to connect on a deeper level.


Active Listening Techniques:

  1. Reflect and Clarify: 

   – Repeat or paraphrase what the client has said to ensure understanding. This also shows that you are paying attention.

   – Example: “So what you’re saying is that you feel overwhelmed by your workload. Is that correct?”


  1. Acknowledge Emotions: 

   – Recognise and acknowledge the emotions your client is expressing. This builds empathy and trust.

   – Example: “It sounds like this situation is really frustrating for you.”


  1. Ask Follow-Up Questions Based on Responses: 

   – Use the client’s responses as a basis for further questions. This shows you’re engaged and interested in their experience.

   – Example: “You mentioned feeling overwhelmed. Can you tell me more about what triggers this feeling?”


 10 Powerful Questions for Effective Discovery Calls


A well-crafted question can be the difference between a potential client feeling understood and one feeling unheard. Here are 10 powerful questions designed to lead to insightful conversations and increase the likelihood of conversion:


  1. “What motivated you to seek coaching at this stage of your life or career?”

   – Unlocks the client’s immediate motivation and sets the tone for a goal-oriented discussion.


  1. “Can you describe a recent situation where you felt particularly challenged or stuck?”

   – Encourages the client to share recent struggles, providing insight into their current needs.


  1. “How does this challenge affect other aspects of your life or work?”

   – Explores the broader impact of their challenges, showing the interconnected nature of their issues.


  1. “What have you tried so far to address these challenges?”

   – Helps understand their self-awareness and past efforts, and why those might not have worked.


  1. “In your view, what would be a successful outcome from our coaching sessions?”

   – Aims to set clear, achievable goals for the coaching relationship.

  1. “What are the values and principles you live by, and how do they influence your decision-making?”

   – Gains insight into their core values, which is crucial for tailoring your coaching approach.


  1. “How do you typically respond to change or challenges?”

   – Sheds light on their resilience and adaptability, key areas in coaching.


  1. “What’s holding you back from achieving the goals you’ve set for yourself?”

   – Identifies perceived barriers, setting the stage for your coaching to address these.


  1. “If you could envision the perfect state of your life/business after our sessions, what would it look like?”

   – Encourages them to think beyond current limitations and dream big, opening up possibilities.


  1. “What are your expectations from me as your coach?”

   – Clarifies their expectations, ensuring alignment and understanding from both sides.


 Bringing It All Together

In conclusion, your discovery call is a powerful tool for building successful coaching relationships. By preparing thoroughly, asking high-quality questions, and actively listening, you establish a foundation of trust and understanding. Remember, these calls are as much about understanding the client as they are about showcasing the value of your coaching.

Incorporate these strategies into your next discovery call and notice the difference. Each call is an opportunity to grow, both for you as a coach and for your potential clients. Embrace this process with confidence, empathy, and professionalism, and watch your coaching practice thrive.


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