Discovery Calls are a Conflict of Interest

Discovery Calls are a Conflict of Interest

Here’s the problem with free discovery calls and why they are a conflict of interest in many instances.

People who want to book discovery calls are looking for free advice, and people who are offering free discovery calls are trying to sell their services. Both parties show up to the call with different objectives. This type of scenario can quickly create a lose-lose conversation, instead of a positive outcome for both.

If you’re a coach or consultant, you likely see a free call as a lead generation tool. It’s a way to have a conversation with someone who might be a great client and gain new business.

If you’re a buyer, you likely see the call as similar to test driving a new car. You want to ensure that before you make a serious financial commitment, this person is the right service provider for you.

The question then becomes, how can both parties win?

There are a few things you should consider when you put that big “Schedule a Call” button on your website.

1. Who is this call for?

You should be exceptionally clear as to the type of buyer you want to have a free conversation with. When someone clicks that big button, you’re not obligated to talk with them. What you should be doing instead, is asking them questions to determine if they are the right fit for your services. Based on the responses you receive, you can determine whether to invest your time in this individual.

woman using smartphone on staircase in public areas, During leisure time. The concept of using the phone is essential in everyday life.2. What criteria determines if the call is free or for a fee?

Have clear criteria on who you will offer time to for free. In my business, if the inquiry for a conversation comes from someone who has been referred by an existing client, I will always make time for them as a courtesy. If the inquiry is cold, I will make time depending on the answers they provide to my questions about them and their business.

The answers to the questions I ask also allow me to provide them with info about what other avenues besides coaching might best suit their needs.

A great example of this is if someone reaches out to me and they are a solopreneur who is in start-up mode and have never run a company before. I already know that my fees are likely out of reach for this individual and that they would be better served to do the work in one of my programs instead of coaching with me privately.

By asking the right questions, you can quickly determine who you want to offer these free calls to.

3. Are they looking for coaching or a coach?

Instead of only offering a free call, create options that include paying for your time. If someone responds to your questions and it’s apparent they are looking for coaching and not a coach, offer them a one-time paid coaching call. It’s your right to let people know you don’t coach or consult for free, but you’d be happy to extend a one-time call, perhaps at a discounted fee. Then, if they decide to continue to work with you, you can credit them for that time. I’ve done this successfully for years, and the vast majority of the time, the people who paid for the one-time call never became clients.

The moral of the story here is don’t get stuck in the trap of offering free calls to people who are looking for free coaching or consulting and who have no intention of hiring you as a coach or consultant.

Don’t make blanket assumptions. Learn to identify who would be the right fit for these calls.

Here’s one final thought for you to consider:

You don’t get to walk into a restaurant and sample every item on the menu before you decide whether to eat there. So why should people get access to your valuable time and knowledge without paying for it?

However, if you were planning to book the entire restaurant for an event, the owners might create menu samples for you, free of charge, so you could determine if their establishment was suitable for your needs.

When you do a #free discovery call, you are not setting your potential client up for #success. Share on X

Leave me a comment and let me know if you do, or participate in free discovery calls. What are your expectations from that call?


4 thoughts on “Discovery Calls are a Conflict of Interest”

  1. BEST practise AGAIN – LOVE this advice ! Makes so much sense how you do coahcing discounted first session then if a person signs up for coaching you credit them back. Then on customer side – be clear what you are looking for, prepared to do the work and affordability . Thanks Lisa !!

  2. Thinking a lot about this lately. I do free discovery calls but perhaps it is time to do them at a discounted price. What would be an appropriate discount for a discovery call? 50% off the hourly rate?

  3. Excellent advice, Lisa! When I consume any f your content, I already know the quality is high and the advice is solid. I have never liked the idea of free discovery calls for these reasons. I love the advice you give on how to handle the calls to determine whether they should be free or paid. This is why I never get on a call without having them fill out my call questionnaire!

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Lisa Larter Bio Image of Lisa x400

Lisa Larter

Founder and CEO of the Lisa Larter Group, master strategist, author, speaker, podcast host, social media expert, consultant, and business coach. Lisa inspires entrepreneurs and business owners to see the possibilities for their organizations when it comes to strategy. She uncomplicates modern marketing and creates (and implements) strategies for businesses that are guaranteed to increase visibility, inbound leads, and revenue.

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