How to Have a Great Discovery Call with an Agency

person typing on their laptop with one hand and checking their phone in their other hand

If you think about it, a discovery call is a bit like a first date: both parties are putting their best selves forward and seeing if they have enough in common to keep going. And, just like a first date, it’s easy enough to set up. Unlike a first date, however, a quick Google search (or are we chatGPT-ing exclusively now) of the other person isn’t necessarily enough. There are five areas of a discovery call conversation that an agency will typically cover. If you can put some notes together on each area ahead of time, you’ll be in a stronger position to assess the agency you’re meeting.

Product Market Fit 

Every single idea that has turned into a successful business (or if you’re looking for help to make changes within a business, a successful change management endeavor) addresses a specific problem space, serves a clear market, and analyzes competitors.  

How to prepare

  • Have an answer for the question, “What problem does your idea solve?” 
  • Pull together any notes on total addressable market – it’s okay if it’s just back of napkin math! 
  • Figure out at a minimum if anyone else is doing, or tried to do, what you want to do, and if they are, how your idea is better or different 
    • Check the Play and App Stores 
    • Do a quick online search for your concept

Key item to assess about the agency

Pay attention to how the agency responds to your questions and ideas. Listen for whether the agency is more likely to just build what you ask for, or if they’re interested in walking alongside you as a thoughtful guide in building your business, keeping practicality and viability balanced with feasibility. It hurts much worse to spend thousands of dollars needlessly than to hear that your idea could use some shaping. 

UX and UI 

The User Experience and User Interface are key to making sure that your idea is easily understandable, usable, and engaging to the customers you want to serve. 

How to prepare

  • Create a document or PowerPoint slide with screenshots of software designs that catch your attention – what do you like about them? 
  • Are there user flows in another application you’d like your app to emulate? If so, creating a video of the other apps’ workflows can go a long way towards effectively illustrating your vision
  • Think about and make some notes on the levels or types of users that will access your product. Especially within B2B software, there are often roles with varying degrees of permission. 
    • For example, Slack has the role of “workspace admin” which has every single permission available. Next there are members with certain levels of ability to create and access channels, or customize the space. Finally Slack allows you to invite limited members who can only come into a certain channel and cannot see or access anything else. 

Key item to assess about the agency

Make sure the agency talks about this with you. Sometimes software development agencies do not have designers on staff so can’t talk through this, and/or expect you to come with the designs prepared for coding. At the very least you’ll want to see if they can recommend a designer or a design agency if they can’t work through this with you directly. 


Once your idea is in the world, how will you grow your customer base and revenue? Have some notes on your ideas for monetization (which may or may not include how to bring in more customers) and make sure the agency asks you about this too. See above re: it hurts more to lose thousands of dollars than to have a back and forth about how in shape an idea is.   

Tech and Automation 

While this is the meatiest part of the discovery call, you can see now it’s not the only part! To leave time for the other important topics and still go through this one, there are a few specific areas to think about ahead of time. 

How to prepare

  • Have notes on
    • Integrations (and if a specific partner tool is required, such as SalesForce, whether you’re already using it) 
    • Platform preferences (iOS, Android, web) – and reasons! 
    • Localization needs (currency, languages) 
    • Sensitive data handling if applicable 
    • Any other extraordinary compliance or security concerns 
  • Device models (for Internet of Things projects) 
  • Processes to be automated (for Process Automation or Business Automation projects) 
    • Whether these processes are standardized within the organization already

Key item to assess about the agency

While there are countless capable agencies out there, pay attention to how holistically the group thinks about all the parts of the conversation so far. 

Technical prowess + understanding of your industry and business = Ideal. 

Project Management 

Besides the what, the how (resources) and the when (timeline) are key parts of a discovery call. 

How to prepare

  • Have a sense of not just budget in terms of money, but also time – who on your team will run point for this project, and how much bandwidth will they have to liaise with the agency team? 
  • Make a note of key dates in your business or around this idea and general timeline expectations 

Key item to assess about the agency

Check on the transparency of the group you talk with. It’s easy to just say yes and then try to make it work behind the scenes when someone needs a project. You can ask whether the agency puts together teams on a project basis, or if they have fixed teams that work together consistently. You can also ask about previous experience with a given particular part of the project to get a sense of how efficiently the team will work, and what happens after each project phase is complete – how do you stay in touch for further help? 

Your turn

Congratulations on reading this far – we know this was a long post! But now you’re ready to have smoother, clearer conversations in a discovery call with less back and forth. And more importantly, you’re building a habit of “doing the homework” which will be key to success in a relationship with an agency. 

Whether with us or not, we want you to have an easier, better time managing discovery calls. If you have any questions or are ready to try out your preparation, you can, ahem, book a call with us on TSL’s website –  just click the "Book a call" button in the top right corner.


*Shout out to Christina @ on Unsplash for the feature photo!

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