As I listened to a speaker at a prestigious business conference give advice on how to achieve small business success, I became more and more frustrated … Why was this woman at the podium? What are her success credentials? Why not me?
Once I gave myself a shake and became “an adult” again … I knew exactly the answer. This woman was purposeful about what she wanted, and she asked for the opportunity. It wasn’t me that asked the conference organizers if there was an opportunity to speak and what the next steps were. It was her. As a result, I missed the opportunity.
It happens often, we miss opportunities simply because we don’t ask for them. “Making the ask” is about asking for what we want; a loan, a testimonial, an opportunity to speak, a referral, an introduction, someone to help with a specific project, a prospect to become a client and more.
Why do we find it so difficult to explain what we want and then expect people to make a decision and take action?
Here are 3 reasons it’s so difficult to “make the ask” and actions to make it easier:
- Lack of clarity about what we want – we don’t know the question to ask.
- Identify exactly what you want and why.
- Define the decision you want made and the result you are asking for.
- Write the question you want to ask and refine it.
- Know your next steps given the possible answers to the question.
- Don’t know how – “Making the ask” is a learned and practiced skill.
- Set the stage and let the person know your intention in getting together.
- Make it clear and state the expected next step.
- Be sincere and direct.
- Write a script, role play and practice the conversation and asking the question.
- Afraid to ask – in case we look silly, bother the person, or get rejected.
- Remember FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real.
- Write all the places FEAR is getting in your way.
- Review the list and ask yourself – is this really the fear or is it something else I’m afraid of? If it is something else replace the “false fear” with the “something else fear”.
- For each item on the list, create a list of actions you can take to help minimize or overcome this fear. Now you have an action list. You haven’t eliminated the fear, but you can have control over the fear.
Now is the time to avoid unnecessarily missing opportunities in your business. Going forward ask yourself these two questions:
- What is the door to opportunity that I want to open?
- What is the one “ask” I can make to make that happen?
To quote author H. Jackson – “Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity”.