How do you set yourself up for success as an operator from the get-go? What does your discovery process look like? Do you have one in place?
In today’s episode I’m discussing the 10 things you need to ask in a discovery call. A discovery call is when you get on a call with a potential client, and the goal is so you can understand where they are in their business, what their needs are, and where they are going. It reveals the answers you need to be able to empower yourself to make the strongest decision.
Before you commit to a client, or price a project… you must do a call. Today I am walking you through the specific questions I ask during these discovery calls.
1. What is the mission of your business?
Why do you do this and why are you committed? The benefit to knowing this is that you are going to see the conviction to their cause, and are going to be able to see if they are in transition. Did they start the business with one mission and now are growing into a different mission? As the person who is potentially going to be joining this team, you need to have an honest conversation about what they are doing, why they wake up in the morning, and what their intention is in serving their audience.
2. What is your vision?
What do they see for their company in 3-5 years? This is an opportunity to exhibit leadership and to show up and coach them to dream bigger. This puts you in a leadership role and also exhibits a partnership mentality so the rest of the conversation will be set up in a way that they are going to trust you. You are trying to understand where they want to take this company. During this time I want you to get a good understanding of how far ahead their vision for their business extends, and what it looks like.
There are 3 specific questions that I ask when I talk about vision:
- How far out can you see your business?
- What will the business accomplish in the next 5 years?
- What would happen if success poured down on you in the next 3-5 years?
“Leading with curiosity puts you in a leadership spot.”
Vision has 3 parts:
- Where do they see their business if everything goes right?
- Where do they see themselves in their business in 3-5 years if it is a success? Will you be working as much? Looking to sell? The main content creator? Acting in a CEO position?
- Understand where they will personally be in 3-5 years. How old will their kids be? Are there any significant milestones? Looking to go part time? This will help you understand where they want to go, and their boundaries.
“These are the unstated expectations that stay in the back of the mind for the entrepreneur.”
3. What are your values?
You will want to separate these answers into two separate categories: “What makes them tick?” & “What ticks them off?” Ask them to identify what they love about the people that they chose to have relationships with. Out of this, you will start to hear about their values. Start with personal then shift into professional. Ask: “What is it about people on your team that you love? Tell me about a time that you had someone on your team that you just loved… what was it about them that made you feel that way?”
Next, have them identify people they choose to avoid and ask them what it is about those people that makes the decision for them. Then, ask them to think about a time they’ve had a team member who ticked them off, and have them give specific examples. This info is gold…you want to make sure to take good notes. Listen closely and assess these answers carefully, so that you’re not setting yourself up for a relationship that is going to be stressful.
“Ask questions. Remember you’re setting yourself apart by being someone who asks really good questions and takes leadership of the conversation.”
4. Tell me about your team.
I start drawing an organizational chart as they answer. Ask them who is on their team and have them identify their major function. Next, ask them to rate your team members on a scale from A to F. This will help you understand how much turnover you are walking into. Do they have a front line of team members to implement the day to day? Are they prepared for a Director of Operations (DOO)? You can also ask how many people they have had working on your team in the last 12 months. Ask follow up questions to clarify… were they asked to leave or was there a falling out? You will start to see patterns that will help you understand trends.
5. Who leads your team meetings?
This will help you understand the current functionality of the team, and what kind of communication their existing team uses. If the CEO runs the team meetings, ask if they are prepared to have you as a DOO come in and run the meetings? How often do they communicate? Do people on their team understand their roles and what their performance goals look like?
6. How do you make money?
You are essentially asking what their revenue streams are, as well as the type of offers they have. You need to know this before you go further in the relationship. You need to see what types of revenue streams that you are going to be supporting, and if they are to complex for your liking.
7. How do you market your service?
You want to make sure that as an operator, you are not crossing into the marketing space unless that is your preference. As an operator you can support the marketing strategy, but you don’t want to be responsible for marketing strategy. Most operators do not have the competency for marketing strategy, unless this is part of your skill set. You need to lay out the expectation that the DOO is not going to come in and own marketing. If they don’t have anyone in place, I always make sure that they realize that they as the CEO will be the chief marketer. Be very careful that you don’t over promise what you will do. Coach them to understand what operators do and what marketers do, and that although they work together, each skill set looks very different.
8. What are the needs of your business?
Start writing down roles, responsibilities, tasks, and understand what their expectations are. Do you possess the skills that they need? Be confident, and speak up to tell them what you can provide, and what may be out of scope for you.
9. What are your expectations?
At this point in the conversation they should be comfortable speaking with you. You have helped them pull this all together through this strategic discovery call, so hopefully they have shed their ego and started to dream. Ask them what their boundaries are, and what their expectations are for this role. What does success look like? Do this toward the end of the call when they are comfortable with you. If you already know that you will not be a good fit for them, this is the point that you should politely exit the call.
10. How comfortable are you with someone joining you as a strategic partner in your business?
Ask this, then just be quiet. If they don’t know what that means, explain that you are a leader who is accompanying them to help them lead their teams and their projects. How open are they to you coming in and doing your best work? Explain to them how you work.
When you go through all 10 of these questions in a discovery call, you get to understand if you have a good connection. You get to see how they deal with resistance and feedback. Are they being honest with you? Are you the right fit for this role? You do not have to make a commitment on this discovery call!
At this point, you may be thinking that this is an intense process, but think about all of the bad business relationships you may have had in the past. Would a conversation like this at the beginning of the relationship have helped you to understand who you were getting into a partnership with?
Get familiar with the client before you say yes… the benefits are worth the work!
Weekly Ops Activity
Take this framework and create a template that you can have in your pocket, ready to go that will guide you through the conversation. Also add any that work well for you!
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