6 Steps to Successful Discovery Meetings

September 13, 2019

Evan Pitchie

A discovery meeting, or as some call it, an introduction meeting, sets the tone for the business relationship. It's a time where both parties meet to learn more about each other, what they want, and what can be done—
similar to a first date.

We want to eliminate some of the guess-work by sharing our process and giving those interested in working with us an idea of how we, at Playground, run our discovery meetings.

1. Introductions

We’ll generally start with introductions about ourselves, our roles, our guests and their roles. We do this because it allows everyone to familiarize themselves with all parties.

Everyone then has a better understanding of who to direct questions to and who will be taking care of which elements during the project.

2. Purpose of the Meeting

Once we know who is in the room, we want to know why we’re all here. We accomplish this by seeking to understand 2 things:

  • What challenges are you looking to overcome or what objectives are you looking to achieve?

    This is important because we want to know how we can help. Here’s where people will tell us they need a new website because their current one doesn’t have the features they want or that they need a new brand identity because their current one doesn’t represent who they are. We’ll ask more clarifying questions further in the conversation, but at this stage we want you to know what’s been keeping you up at night.
  • Why did you decide to meet with us?

    Everyone's time is valuable. Therefore, we want to establish a level of mutual respect, ensure we are able to address all your points and get a better sense of how the relationship might look like.

3. Digging Deeper

When someone goes to a doctor for a stomach ache, the doctor doesn’t immediately perform any surgery on them. They thoroughly analyze the situation in order to get a clear understanding of the issue and then propose a course of action—we need to go about it in the same way in order to get at the root of the issue for your business.

Our goals in this portion of the meeting are to gain a better understanding of your strategic objectives and how that will make your customers/clients happy.

To do so we’ll ask many “why”, “what”, and “how” oriented questions. Some questions include:

  • What are your short-term and long-term objectives?
  • What is the current perception and why do you want it to change?
  • How are things currently done and why do you want it to change?
  • Why is this change necessary for your company?
  • How much additional value will this change bring?
  • How will it impact you, your users, your staff, and other stakeholders?

We don’t want to focus too much on features or other tactical related affairs because we don’t want to prescribe a solution before fully understanding the situation. In fact, we’ve had people come to us for a service and by the end of the conversation realize that there were other issues they needed to address first.

4. Establishing The Right Fit

We always want to make sure our clients are just as excited to work with us as we are to work with them. It makes the experience more enjoyable and makes communication easier.

Just like our clients, we are a business and we need to generate revenue to continue doing what we love to do. We’re happy to create proposals with how we plan on helping you reach your objectives, but we need to know the likelihood of us working on the project together.

For this reason, we ask questions like:

  • Why not do it in-house instead of coming to us?
  • Why do you feel working with us would be better than another alternative?
  • Are you talking to other companies? If yes, how many?
  • How critical is this problem to you?

We find that it’s an efficient way to gauge the level of interest of both parties about the project.

5. Investment

This question often creates hesitation from potential clients and we understand. We value the trust that people have in disclosing this information because it helps us craft a tailored-solution that falls within what they are willing to spend.

If you’re like most people, when you go to a real estate agent to buy a house, you give an estimated budget so that they have a range to play with—this information is equally vital for us as well.

By being upfront about how much you are able to invest, we'll be able to better understand the importance of this project to you, its impact on your business and how to assist you.

Once we have this information, 2 things can happen:

  • If the investment is below our minimum ask, we can discuss alternative payment options or refer you to someone who may be able to do it within the desired price range.
  • If your budget falls within an amount we can work with, we are able to create a proposal containing different options on how we’ll help your business.

6. Conclusion and Final Notes

At this point in the meeting, we have a good understanding of what you’re facing and what we need to include in the proposal.

We’ll give you an idea of what working with us look like by sharing what the next steps would look like and when you should expect the proposal to be complete.

Note that there is no right or wrong answer to any of the questions we ask, there’s only what’s right for you.

Throughout the entirety of the meeting, we like to keep things conversational and we never want you to feel like it’s an interview. We ask a lot of questions because we’re curious and we genuinely care.

This article is an overview of what to expect when having a discovery meeting with us. The order and the questions might change depending on the relationship, scope of work, and other factors.