Prospects are like onions; they have a lot of layers. In order to peel back those layers, you have to have a genuine sense of curiosity and be skilled at asking questions.

Prospects have layers for what they want and why they want it. When asking questions to peel the onion back, each follow up question you ask will be predicated on the prospect’s response to the prior question.

For example, let’s say you ask a prospect, “what’s important to you in a working relationship?”

They respond with, “good service”

You ask, “what is your definition of good service?”

They say, “one part of it would be frequent communication.”

You ask, “how frequently would you like us to communicate with you?”

They say, “I’d like to talk at least once a quarter and have a review and plan at the end of the year.”

You ask, “what is your preferred method of communication? Is it email, phone, text, face to face or a virtual meeting?”

They say, “we can talk by phone for quarterly meetings for the review and plan at the end of the year, we’d like that to be face to face. We can schedule the meetings via email. If something comes up in between our meetings, feel free to text me. That’s the fastest way to get in touch with us.”

You ask, “if we were able to provide you with this type of communication, what would that mean to you?”

They say, “I would feel confident that I’m engaged with what’s happening with my account.”

What they said they wanted at first was good service. What they really wanted was a level of engagement with their account.

What the mediocre sales person does when the prospect says they want good service, is they start selling based on their interpretation of what good service is.

They immediately show the big red S on their chest and the red flowing cape behind them like they are super-salesperson and they say, “let me tell you how we are going to provide you with good service.”

(Steve has onion in his hand) What the successful sales person does is they start peeling the onion back to learn what good service means to the prospect. What we discovered in this example is that good service to this prospect means a level of engagement in their account.

The real benefit of peeling the onion back is that it helps both you and your prospect gain even more clarity around what they want and why they want it.

If you are effective at peeling the onion back, you will build credibility with the prospect because the questions you are asking will help them crystalize in their own mind exactly what they want and why they want it.

What to do? Don’t sell prematurely. First peel the onion back to uncover what your prospect wants and why they want it. The time is now.