Anatomy of a Sales Conversation

What does a sales call (or calls) actually look like? Here’s a 4-part outline.

Sales “call” is a misnomer because once you hit 5 figures, you might need more than one call, often several. Collectively, I’m referring to multiple calls as your sales conversation.

I’m no Grant Cardone, but here’s what I think a sale conversation should look like, based on 15 years of practice. 

1. Conversational discovery

If you ask many in sales for their favorite book, they’ll say SPIN Selling, which calls for conversational, consultative sales conversations. You talk 20% of the time and the prospect talks 80% of the time.

The only effective way to induce that scenario is to ask the right question, one after another, which is where the handle SPIN acronym comes in. It’s designed to help you differentiate between the four types of questions to ask (or not to ask).


Let me highlight one of the book’s motifs – do not ask many situation questions, such as, “What products do you sell?” or “where is most of your team located?”. Ask anything but the S questions. Your situational questions can be researched or asked beforehand by email or some kind of web form.

Instead, ask problem, implication and need-payoff questions, such as, “Why is it a problem that you’ll get fewer conference referrals than pre-pandemic; how will that change the perception of your business, and what do you need to do as a result – what will be the payoff from this new course of action?”.

2. Analysis of fit

“I’ve listened to you and based on what I understand, I have this solution for you. It’s for you. You can have it if you want it; I’m happy to explain more and/or walk you through our informational deck. if you don’t want it, not a problem.”


“I’ve listened to you and based on what I understand, I don’t have a solution that’s right for you. What I have is unfortunately not for you. 

What I can do is refer you to a colleague or tell you what I would do if I were in your shoes.”

3. Proposal offer

If after your prospect understands your solution, you can suggest, “When can I schedule a time to review a few different ways we can approach this? I can put together a proposal or us to review”. This is your proposal, which you always review in person (ie live); a proposal is like a young child, never let it out of the house by itself.

4. Price guidance

But before you commit to that follow-up meeting, you mention a price because inevitably that’s what:

  • your prospect wants to know
  • you want to know

Why go to the work of creating a custom proposal and statement of work if you don’t know whether your price(s) will be acceptable?

Forget about value pricing for a moment, because value pricing is a function of convincing inbound marketing and you may have none to speak of. Just focus on fixed pricing that’s not strictly based on an hours-worked calculation. Be ready to name a price range based on what you’ve learned in your real-time conversation(s).

Et voila, that’s the framework for setting up a proposal review call where you offer options that the customer will understand for prices she is comfortable with. No surprises. 

Or that’s the general idea, at least; it might be messier in real life and not in the right order.

And it might get a lot cleaner if you productize and price some of your services. 

My best