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How to Ask for What You Want and Get It

By John Baker | N/A 2011 | 6 | 12

If you're like most people, when it comes down to it, you're downright scared of being direct and to the point and telling people in no uncertain terms, "Here's what I want!"

It's normal to feel vulnerable about being honest and up-front. Yet, when it comes to being successful in business, being frank and clearly asking people to give you what you want is what wins the day.

I have spent several years studying the fears and trepidation people demonstrate in situations across the whole spectrum of human interactions. I have documented the simplest tactics and strategies that I observed in the people who were getting exactly what they were after. My discovery was simple: The most successful people ask for what they want. Then they give the three very best reasons that explain why it makes perfect sense to say yes.

Here's an example: A high-tech operations manager worked for months with his client, producing pilot models, demonstrations, tests, and technical reports, an integration plan, customization of the software, a robust training plan, and more.  After much time, effort, and energy, he knew that he had overcome the financial, technological, and human issues with flying colors. What he didn't know was if the client was ready to commit to the deal.

The quickest and best way to ask for the order would have been to go right up to his client and say, "What do we need to do make a final decision? Would you please let me know specifically? I want you to know what you need me to do to move things forward. You've seen how everything works, how well integrated it will be, that it's going to make a real difference. Can we meet at 10 a.m. to close a deal?" 

How to get there

It is crucial to identify the exact most important request and brainstorm before you decide on the best reasons. Each reason needs to be carefully selected from a larger number of options and be backed by three important facts. This method can be used to penetrate difficult accounts, close sales calls, shorten a sales cycle, protect price margins, reduce meeting time, speed up presentations, structure personnel reviews, communicate better with suppliers, and so on.

My formula has three basic rules:

  1. Only offer information that is meaningful. Everything else is trivial.
  2. Get to the point and ask for what you want.
  3. Be quick about it.

Building a relationship is great, but taking responsibility and delivering the results is what creates trust. The biggest problem with never getting a direct answer is that it gets in the way of real progress. It's pointless. It wastes time and effort. It allows for procrastination. It enables people to avoid rejection. After all, if you are busy probing the needs of the prospect, you don't have to risk actually doing the work.

Can you imagine a vendor at a ballpark selling you a hot dog like a consultant: "On a scale of 1 to 10, rate your level of discomfort with your hunger? Tell me your main objective with the hot dog. When you had a hot dog before, how satisfied were you with the mustard and ketchup ratio?"

Isn't he more effective when he just yells, "Hot dogs, hot dogs, come and get your hot dogs!"? Try out my method for yourself__and remember, it's all about being frank.

John Baker has held top leadership positions in sales, client service, and operations in Fortune 25 companies for more than 25 years. He is a member of the National Speakers Association and a noted speaker on topics of leadership, leader development, and building winning organizations. For more information, visit www.theaskingformula.com

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