Asking for what we want is something many of us struggle with. If we run our own businesses, we may be reluctant to ask for a sale; hesitating at the vital moment after all the good work has been done. If we work in a large company, we may back away from asking for a promotion or a pay rise and quietly seethe when someone less competent, but more confident, suddenly overtakes us. We tend to think of such conversations as once-off opportunities, now or never events, but in fact getting a promotion or pay rise, making a sale, are all the culmination of a lot of effort and activity. If you’re a professional, that will include getting qualifications and building up a great track record of achievements and experience. If you run your own business, a sale is the result of providing excellent service, building your reputation and really getting to know your prospective clients. With that in mind, here are my tips for asking for what you want.
- Find a form of words that works for you. Some people might be comfortable demanding a pay-rise, or really pushing a sale. If that’s your style, go for it. Many will find it easier to initiate potentially high-stakes conversations by asking questions and exploring alternatives. Personally, I’m not a fan of the hard sell, and it is especially inappropriate when you’re discussing coaching programmes with a potential client. I often ask an open question such as ‘How does that sound?’, ‘What do you think about giving it a try?’ or, if I can really see that they are interested, ‘When shall we get started?’. That feels comfortable, the potential client has a range of options and doesn’t feel railroaded into signing up.
- Pick your moment. Timing is really important. If you want to discuss a promotion, think about when your boss would be most amenable to having the discussion. Make sure she’s not up against a deadline, or under real pressure. Choose a time when you’ve been doing some really good work (and make sure that she’s aware of it). If you’re selling your services, make sure that the prospective client has everything they need to make the decision and that you have convinced them that you’re the person to work with. If the time doesn’t seem right, leave the conversation for a better day but make sure you do follow up.
- Be mindful of different timescales. You may be thinking the time is right now, your boss or prospective client might be thinking next year would be better. A ‘no’ could well just be a ‘not yet’.
- If no is the answer, choose how you respond. Do not to take it personally, because it probably isn’t about you as an individual, but rather about the needs, wants and finances of your client or employer. Instead of getting emotional and beating yourself up, find out why they have said no. If it is a ‘not yet’, find out what you need to do to make it a yes next time; and go and do it. Take what you learned from the experience and use it.
- Keep your emotions out of it. Focus on what’s in it for the person you’re asking, after all the decision (and so the control) lies with them. In other words, it’s not about you, it’s about what you can do for your clients, the problems you can solve for them. It’s about your value to the organisation and what you can contribute to its success. Make a good case, have facts available and be able to answer any objections positively. If you get angry, or tearful you will not have a productive conversation.
A short coaching session will help you be more confident about asking for what you want. Book a no-obligation 45 minute taster session at this link: https://calendly.com/jackiefitzgerald/strategy-session or give Jackie a call on 01235 861 311.