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  • Writer's pictureJames Purvis

How to Run a Perfect Sales Call: 5 Simple Steps

Something I've noticed is that a lot of sales reps and managers don't have a defined structure to their prospecting calls. This results in a lot of missed opportunity, time wasted, and messy sales conversations.

Awhile back I watched a great 30 minute training video from Gong on sales discovery that had a few key takeaways that helped me have a more structured approach to prospecting calls. Combining some of the tips I learned from Gong's training as well as some strategic questioning tactics I've leveraged in my career have helped increase my frequency of scheduled next steps two-fold.

Below are the 5 simple steps you can take to maximize the outcome of your prospecting calls.

Step 1: State the goal of the Meeting

After no more than 3-5 minutes of small talk, you should kick off the meeting by making an "up- front agreement." This agreement should be in the form of stating the goal of the meeting and having the prospect agree to it.


  • "My goal today is to determine if {Name of Your Company} would be a strong fit so that if you go further into this process with us, you know it's going to be time well-spent."

  • "If I find that we wouldn't be a great fit for you, I'll be upfront about it, and we can save time by going our separate ways. Is that fair?"

99% of the time your prospect will consent to this. It just makes sense. In addition, it helps you establish control of the meeting.

Step 2: Lay Out the agenda

Now that your prospect knows the goal of the meeting and is in agreement with it, you will want to define an agenda that sets both you and the prospect up for a successful outcome.

This will be your second "up-front contract" that the prospect acknowledges keeping you in the driver's seat for the conversation flow.


In Step 1 after you ask,"Is that fair?" and they answer, "Yes."

  • "Great! Now to achieve that, here's what I suggest we do."

  • "First, let's briefly talk about how you are doing {Name Your Solution Topic} today to understand if and where {Name of Your Company} might be able to help."

  • "Once we do that, I'll tell you a bit about {Name of Your Company}, how I think we can help, and schedule a next step if it makes sense to."

  • "Is there anything you want to add or remove from that agenda?"

  • "Great, let's get started!"

Step 3: Ask discovery questions that get long responses

You need to earn the right to ask prospects questions which is why Step 1 and Step 2 are so important. If you start the call with a bunch of questions, you will quickly turn off your prospect and make you sound like a cop.

Once you have earned the right, you can preface your questioning with what Gong refers to as a "Discovery Prompter" or by a well constructed elevator pitch. A discovery prompter is a short educational narrative about the problem or opportunity your product solves for. If done correctly, your discovery prompter or elevator pitch will get your prospect talking.

Finish it off by saying, "Enough about {Your Company Name}. Help me understand your top challenges and priorities?" This will be your segue into your discovery questioning.

So, what are good discovery questions to ask? I like to use TEDW questions. They are excellent for discovery. They are questions that start with any of the following:

  • Tell me...

  • Explain to me...

  • Describe to me

  • Walk me thru...

A great way to get your prospect to provide you even longer responses to your TEDW questions is to use "mirroring."


Mirroring is a technique that simply repeats the important words of what the prospect just said and uses an upward inflection tonality.

Examples of Mirroring:

  • Prospect: "Our cost of our current solution is too high"

  • You: "The cost is too high?"

  • Prospect: "I'm sick of dealing with bad support."

  • You: "Bad support?"

  • Prospect: "We have a big initiative to consolidate vendors."

  • You: "Consolidate vendors?"

Tip: It's critical that you shut up after a mirror - this let's everything sink in and gets the prospect thinking. It also adds effect. Famous hostage negotiator Chris Voss calls this, "dynamic silence."

Another way to get your prospect to extend their answers is by using "labeling." These are verbal observations that acknowledge your prospect's feelings and positions. They are powerful at reinforcing positive feelings and deactivating negative ones and will get them to elaborate even more. Your prospect will love when you label because it shows that they have been heard which builds rapport. Your mirrors will help you tee up labels.

Labeling starts with either:

  • "It sounds like..."

  • "It seems like..."

  • "It feels like..."

Examples of labeling:

"It sounds like you are frustrated with your current solution."

"It seems like you have had trouble with implementation in the past."

"It feels like you are open to trying something new."

An important thing to note is that after you perform a label, you have to shut up just like after a mirror. If you labeled correctly, the prospect will start opening up the flood gates yet again.

Step 4: Tell a customer story

Avoid "name dropping" random customers. Tell a customer story instead. However, it's important no to just tell any customer story. Tell a story of a customer in the same industry, with the same use case, one who looked to solve the same problem, and is in the same territory. Then it's ok to follow up by rattling off 5-7 other customers who are also in the same "tribe."

Tip: Remember that when you're telling a customer story that your prospect is seeking to find out, "Are they like me?" They don't care if Starbucks is your customer is they are nothing like them.

"Your story should describe their problem better than they can describe it themselves." - Gong

Tip: Lead your customer story by describing all the problems, pain, and challenges that customer was faced with first and then end with what the result was. This will help them "see" themselves in the story.

Step 5: Close by selling the next step

Your ultimate goal of a prospecting call with a qualified customer is to get to a productive next step. Whether that's to schedule a demo, expand the audience, or dive deeper into the solution, you are dead in the water if there isn't an agreed upon next step at the end of the call.

Examples of how to end the call:

  • "Based on what you've told me, I think you're going to love {Name of Your Company}. It's going to help you {Value prop based on what you discovered}."

  • "As a next step, I suggest we schedule a product demo so you can judge this for yourself. Do you have your calendar handy?"

"You don't need to take all the steps. Only the next one." - Anonymous


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