James Carbary

Founder at Sweet Fish Media

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How to Structure a Sales Call

James Carbary

Founder at Sweet Fish Media

Full Profile »

If you’re not overwhelmed by the list of sales tactics in the world, you’ve probably never heard of search engines. There are endless ways to structure a sales call, but I’ve got some refreshing news for you: it really is all about the basics. In a recent interview with Lonnie Sciambi (a.k.a. “The Entrepreneur’s Yoda”), we learned three simple steps you can include your sales calls to put yourself in the best position to win a prospect over. And they’re really, really simple. See for yourself.

1) Reveal Your Research

Before you ever lift the phone, know as much about them as you possibly can.


Everybody’s got a website; almost everybody is on LinkedIn. You can find out about a prospect, their company, and what they’ve been up to.

Pick decent facts off the website. Then you’re prepared for the call: use that information for your next step, whether it be a phone call, email, or face-to-face visit.

The earlier you weave in what you’ve learned, the better.

In a phone call or face-to-face call, at least three out of your first five points or questions should be all about them, confirming things you’ve learned. (“I heard you guys just built a new plant. How’s that coming?”)

In an email, mention some comment you saw on their website or social media, or some press release related to them or their company.

In all these cases, you’re proving that you’ve done your research.

What we like to do in our sales calls is give our understanding of what they do as a business and ask if we’re perceiving it correctly. In one question, we’re humbly putting the focus on the prospect and getting more information about their business and situation.

2) Diagnose Their Problem

You’ve got to determine how deep the problem is in this prospect’s situation and only afterward talk about your product. You must understand their pain in order to correlate your product or service to that pain.

This should be easier because you’ve already established a relationship by this point.

3) Bring in Your Product

Then you pitch your product. You’ve determined how your product meets their particular problem, tying it back to what they’ve told you. It should be relatively easy to identify where you come in.

A note on price, here: you don’t have to bring it up. Make them ask you.

Lonnie believes that the problem in most salespeople, especially new ones, is that they want to lead with price. They believe that if they can undercut their competitor, they’ll win. But that’s not always true.

As Lonnie says, “It ain’t always about price; often it’s about value.” “It ain’t always about price; often it’s about value.”


You’ve got to establish a better value proposition in front of the customer than anybody else does. Playing as the lower-priced is almost always a loss.

Many businesses are overly proud that they haven’t raised prices in years. But this probably means they haven’t given out many raises or increased the quality of their product during that time. They’re slowly selling themselves out of business.

Yoda’s first law of sales negotiation is this: “He who mentions a number first, loses.”

If they don’t ask for price, you’ve done an outstanding job winning the battle of their mind: it means they’re comfortable with you. In the first call, you might even put off the price, saying “We’ll get to that, but we’d like to let you use it first.”

The more they can get their hands on your product, the better. But if price becomes your lead, you’re gonna get killed. Somebody can always underprice you.

But What About Not Getting People Stuck in Your Pipeline Who Can’t Afford Your Product/Service?

Part of your initial call is qualifying the prospect. And there are ways of qualifying them beyond “Hey, can you afford me?”

You can judge a company by the number of employees. How many customers do they have? How many salespeople?

Qualification is what sets price, and you don’t want to come off your standard price. The guy across the table is on a budget: he wants to spend as little as possible, but if the value proposition lines up where it should be, price becomes a secondary consideration for him.

Last Words of Advice

This three-part structure will give you the best chance to succeed on every sales call. There’s a reason Lonnie’s known as The Entrepreneur’s Yoda.

I’ll leave you with Lonnie’s simple last words of advice from our interview:

“Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.

…And don’t lead with price.”

This post is based on an interview with Lonnie Sciambi from The Small Business Force.

You can find this interview, and many more, by subscribing to the B2B Growth Show on iTunes. If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode by clicking here.