Get Paid BEFORE You Even Take on a Client

Getting paid before you take on a client, what the hell does that mean? Let’s talk about something you are doing as part of your normal work that you should be getting paid for.

The purpose of a Paid Discovery Session is to make sure you and your client are in alignment, that you understand who the users are, why they will engage, and what actions we want them to take. It will answer the big questions for a project or campaign before you build anything. And will help both you and the client feel confident about the scope and cost of the project, and your ability to delivery to a high standard.

So why prepare a proposal for free, when you can get your client to pay for a Digital Roadmap session that serves the same purpose, but is more likely to turn into a high-value and well-planned project.

Easy, right? 

Now, most of us when we start out, just do that for free as part of the initial stages of engaging a new client. But what ends up happening is that you do a bunch of discovery, they end up picking your brain and you've done all of that for free whether or not the business relationship moves forward. 

There are a lot of problems with that, you need to be paid for your knowledge and experience. Discovery is actually a product, and you don't give away product for free, right?

Now, let’s hear from one of our Mavericks about how he has started selling paid discovery and how it is changing his business. 

Introducing James Murgatroyd

Holler Digital is a digital marketing agency that focuses on web development and technical challenges that can't be solved with off-the-shelf plugins for their clients. They are focused on content strategy, web design and web development and build websites that exceed​ business goals, solve customer problems, convert users into customers and rank well for search. 

They've been in business for around 17 years and their CEO James Murgatroyd is one of our Maverick Club members who is currently trying to wean himself off the tools and hire someone through our Team Accelerator program (yay!) 

Like many of us, after years in his business James felt burnt out and had been doing the same thing over and over again for almost two decades. He was getting more into sales and strategy and needed to take that step to scale his business, and develop a more effective strategy for working with clients and executing discovery sessions. 

Where Was Discovery in the Sales Process Before Productising and Selling It Separately? 

A general sense of requirements was determined during the sales process and was investigated further through digital roadmapping sessions. However, it was soon obvious that not enough questions were being asked and there wasn’t enough information in those initial stages to move someone from prospect to client

Not only that, James would go through his discovery process and find that he actually couldn’t undertake the full project, meaning that he would have to compromise the rest of the project in order to fit that into the budget (that the client wasn’t willing to move on, of course) which isn't a great scenario to end up in! 

Without having a structure for Paid Discovery and without selling Discovery as a product, James found he struggled to really understand the scope of what the client wanted and if he was able to help. 

Holler Digital’s First Paid Discovery 

Wouldn’t you know it, at his first Paid Discovery workshop the monitors weren’t working and James wasn’t able to present his slides – talk about jumping into the deep end! 

But, this actually meant that he was able to ask lots of questions and have the session be structured as more of a conversation rather than a presentation. 

The session ended up going really well and the open discussion-like structure allowed James to get a more in-depth understanding of what the client needed. Not having his slides actually turned into more of an advantage than a disadvantage. 

Following this session James put his recommendations together and came back to his client, he was able to be more direct and give different options depending on what the outcomes were determined to be as discussed in the Paid Discovery session. 

Now,  it’s important to remember that audits and discovery sessions are always great but what clients really want to see is the ‘game plan’. They want to see what has been identified as needing improvement, what you're going to do in order to implement changes, and the time-frame you expect to do it in. 

Using our Paid Discovery Method, James was able to give clarification on this process to his client, and charge for it. Which is how it SHOULD be done! 

By going through the process learnt inside Mavericks Club, he was more confident in accurately quoting the project and discussing his recommendations. 

Discovery is kind of a lost art, because it's your biggest chance to be creative.

After conducting his Discovery workshops James' clients signed off on the bigger project within 24hrs. 

The Most Valuable Questions Asked During Paid Discovery Workshops

One of the most valuable questions James asked during his Paid Discovery session was, what's broken? He found that it was getting to the why that was a game changer. 

  • Why are we having this conversation?
  • What is the change that you are hoping to make? 
  • What are you currently doing?

By asking the right questions he was able to gain a deeper understanding of some of the reasons why something may be ‘broken’ within the business and develop a plan to fix them. 

Discovery Sessions Where You Realise You Don’t Actually Want to Take the Client On

Paid Discovery helps you to understand whether or not you can actually help! 

James, like many of us, found himself in a situation where after doing his technical audit/Paid Discovery session, he realised that it wasn't going to work out with a client. 

He determined that this particular client either needed to change their business plan, or go back to basics and really work on the technical issues behind their business. The challenge was too great for James to take on, and there was lots going on behind the scenes that first needed to be fixed in order for any further help to be offered. 

Remember to pay attention to the red flags! 

If anything seems a little bit concerning, or vague in those initial Paid Discovery conversations, make sure you get clarification so that it doesn't end up turning into a situation where you're biting off more than you can chew or the client could be one of those ‘nightmare clients’. We’ve all been there! 

The Different Levels of Discovery

Each company is going to have a requirement for a different level of Discovery depending on what type of service they offer, what type of solution they're looking for, and how long they've been in business. And some will be harder to deliver than others. 

An effective way to start thinking about the customer journey is to map out a framework with a client: 

  1. Identifying issues
  2. Developing solutions
  3. Figuring out a fee
  4. Building the solution
  5. Helping them run it

Paid Discovery is an advantage. It helps to bring trust between yourself and the client at whatever level of service you are providing. It also helps to reduce the risk between you and the client as they can see that you've put thought and energy into doing Discovery and they can see the outcomes. 

What's great is that you're also reducing your own risk – because in conducting Paid Discovery sessions, you know exactly what it is you're going to be designing or building and providing to the client regardless of what your service is. It's a great way of mitigating risk that you get paid for too. 

For Example..

Let’s say you deliver value on a $1,500 Paid Discovery session, it's way easier to sell someone a $20,000 project if they've already given you the discovery fee, you've delivered on that and they're happy with the outcomes. There's more trust in the relationship because you've had an opportunity to show that you can bring value. 

What Has Paid Discovery Done for Agency Confidence?

Paid Discovery with Mavericks Club has assisted James in building different assets in his business and helped with the development of different checklists, allowing him to refine both the process and the questions that he asks to clients, while also incorporating feedback on anything that might not have worked in the previous session. 

James has not only improved the audit process but more importantly, the suggested outcomes clients can implement to rectify some of the issues that were identified in the Paid Discovery sessions. This has led to larger projects and more ongoing work with new and existing clients. 

Paid Discovery has given James more confidence in his agency to sell his work and build trust with clients. 

Wrap Up 

Are you still living in a pre Paid Discovery world? 

Well, we have just the solution for you! We are launching  a new training that opens up on Friday 24th of June (Australian time) called the Paid Discovery Method. We are going to give you ALLof the assets you need to run paid discovery. 

Yeah you heard that right! 

We’re going to give you all of the workbooks, all of the slide decks, the entire timeline AND checklist of everything you need to do to successfully run Paid Discovery and decide whether or not you want to take that client on. Plus full video training to walk you through it all. 

Make sure you sign up to our Paid Discovery Method wait-list so that you can be amongst the first to get your hands on this amazing resource when it launches. 

The Agency Hour Podcast

Check out the episode of The Agency Hour related to this blog.

Episode 33:

Listen to the full podcast episode related to this blog on how to get paid BEFORE you even start a project! 

Want to learn more? Simply request a call and let's make it happen! Request a call here.

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Troy Dean

Troy Dean

I am the Founder of Agency Mavericks. The reason I get out of bed every day is because I love helping people to grow their web design or digital marketing businesses. I do this through coaching, creating courses, speaking, consulting and heading up our awesome community.

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