Use "Layers of the Onion" to sell for you


Spend any time with me talking about lead generation or sales, and the term “layers of the onion” or “onion layers” will come up – a lot.  I’ve found that this concept is a great analogy to help teams think through laying out their products and offers. The goal is to make it easier for prospects to “choose their own adventure” in how they get to know a company and its products, step-by-step.

The internet has drastically shifted power from sellers to buyers.  The old way of marketing and selling involved pushing information onto prospects and then working to control their steps along a sales process. Buyers had limited access to information, which they had to negotiate out of sellers.  Now, buyers can do more research on their own before they ever talk to a human at a company (if they ever do talk to a human!)

Go with it – let the prospects do the work!

Instead of resisting this trend and staying attached to how potential customers used to or “should” get to know your company, go with it and give the prospects the control over how they want to get to know you.  Present them with a couple of logical next steps and let them decide how and when to move forward (of course, with some helpful reminders now and then if they’ve stalled).  Setting up progressive layers of the onion is key to “receiving sales” or “pulling sales” (much easier than pushing sales).  Let the prospects do the work for you!

The layers are mutual – test the prospect as they test you

The layers enable prospects and vendors to test mutual compatibility with progressive steps of increasing trust and commitment, to minimize the risk and costs of a bad fit to both parties.  With the layers of the onion, a prospect can engage right away at the level they feel comfortable with, and then can work their way up the trust & commitment layers as they and you see fit.

As a seller, now you can more easily test out how much of a fit the customer is for you, before you commit extra time or resources to them!  Committing to a bad-fit customer is an enormous cost, and the right layers can help you avoid those landmines.

Let go

Give up trying to control how long someone takes to move forward.  You’ll have to accept that most prospects that initially sign up for a blog, trial or demo just won’t be ready to do anything.  That’s ok – don’t try to force them.  But consider if there’s another onion layer you can create to offer to make it easier for them to take another step.

If you see prospects getting stuck somewhere in your layers, consider redesigning the offers – maybe something is missing or is mis-designed.  And trust that if it’s a good fit, and you keep nurturing them and your layers are right, they will become a customer someday – even if you can’t say when.

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