Blake, an attorney from Michigan, wrote me recently regarding his problem getting prospective clients to engage his services. “I find out what their situations are,” he said, “and then I explain very carefully what I’ll be doing for them. Then they ask about price. I tell them my hourly rate — which is competitive — but they say they want to think about it. And then I don’t hear from them again.”

Often, Blake and other professionals don’t spend enough time developing a relationship with prospects before they make their proposals. They know how to diagnose problems and what the best solutions are, but they don’t realize that what their prospects really need is someone to hear them out, someone to care — sympathy, empathy and validation.

Here are some tips to help you get to “yes”:

1. Ask more and better questions. “Situational” questions are essential to enable you to do your work, but they have relatively low value to a prospect who already knows her own situation. How does the situation make her feel? What kind of result would she like to get from working with you? How will that make her feel better? These kinds of questions don’t necessarily add any information to your business stats, but they help you to create a bond.

2. Find out if prospects are committed to changing before you talk about fees. Ask if he has received value from the discussion and invite his questions. Ask if he’d be interested in working with someone who could alter his status quo.

3. Find out what is causing prospects to hesitate. If she says “Let me think about it,” find out where she agrees with your proposal and where she has concerns. Does she have reservations about your abilities? Is she looking for a better price? It’s OK — and important — to ask these questions.

If you want more prospects to say “yes,” then stick with it. Start by spending time asking compelling questions and base your solution directly on prospects’ answers. Whether your goal is a sale or introduction, first take the time to lay the foundation for a strong enduring relationship.

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Sandy Schussel is a speaker, business trainer and coach who helps sales teams develop systems to win clients. He is the author of The High Diving Board and Become a Client Magnet. For more information, go to www.sandyschussel.com.