According to LAURA FREDRICKS, the expert on THE ASK©, the first step is making sure you are ASKING the right people in the right order. This means making a list. I call it your Top ASK List, and that includes all the people you feel have the best capacity and desire to help you. Then ask them in priority order. If you don’t know, start with the people you feel are most interested in both you and your ASK. There is a danger in going after the wealthiest people first. If they do not know you or are only interested in your project or cause, chances are they should not make your Top ASK List.
Additionally, if you know there is only one person responsible for the definitive answer to your ASK, make sure you are ASKING that person and not an influencer. ASKING takes time, and you do not want to be ASKING tiers of people if there is only one person who can make the decision.
“Timing is everything,” and there is no better proof of this than the ASK. You need to decide whether the person is ready to be ASKED? To answer that pivotal question, use THE ASK© Readiness Formula, a secret weapon that allows everyday individuals to learn and like asking:
You want the person to know you, the essence of your ASK, and that this is something very important to you. They must have key information, just enough of the very important factors that will help them make a decision. After they have the information, you can test their level of interest with open-ended questions like “How does this sound to you?”
Your ASK has to have cache ability, so your prospects will be attracted to your ASK and know that helping you will bring them a sense of doing good and feeling good. They want to walk away knowing they will be well thought of by their peers, the community, and sometimes the world. The value added is an enhancer to their beliefs, their hopes and dreams and your ASK will be well aligned with their value system.
When you have these all lined up…you have The Right Time to ASK
Location, location, location does not only apply when buying real estate; it can be the difference between a smooth ASK and a disconnected ASK. Select a place that is quiet and familiar to the person being ASKED, with minimal noise or people distractions. Restaurants and offices present challenges such as loud customer conversation, lack of privacy, and telephone and staff member interruptions. You want the person being ASKED to be relaxed, comfortable and focused on you so try to avoid settings that are hectic and distracting.
Tone is an encompassing word that includes the right tone of voice, the right eye contact, and the right body language. If any one of these elements is off, then the tone is off, and more importantly, off-putting. I often recommend that ASKERS record their voice and play it back to really hear the tone they are projecting. It may surprise you that your perfect pitch may need some tweaking to create a pleasing and inviting tonality. High energy and enthusiasm are the best qualities.
Eye contact and body language are vitally important for the ASK. If you have the most dazzling presentation, the sharpest outfit, and the best voice, yet you look down, around or over the person and are slumping, all your golden words are wasted. Practice your ASK in front of a mirror. While doing so, make sure you look yourself in the eyes, hold your shoulders and head straight, and avoid exaggerated gestures.
Studies prove that people can size you up in four seconds or less! Even if the person you are ASKING is your colleague, neighbor, friend, relative, take the time to carefully select your clothes. Your choice of clothing should always be sharp, crisp, and polished even if you are asking on a farm or construction site. You do not need a three-piece suit or skirt suit every time, but your outfit should say, “This ASK is important; your support is important, and I dressed the part for it!”
Think of preparing for each ASK as an opportunity to rehearse instead of looking at it as a burden. The best ASKS are those for which the ASKER has dedicated concentrated time and effort preparing. What will you say? If you are ASKING with another person, what will you each say? How much time will you give to each element of your ASK? There is a delicate balance between allotting the time to make your ASK and overloading the person with facts and figures.
Write down a script and make it your roadmap for each ASK. The best part of this prep work is that you can anticipate what the person will say to your ASK. If you prepare, you are ready to answer question calmly and objectively.
Selecting the right words and delivering them at the right time speak volumes for the pre-work you have completed. Think about the words that will resonate the best with the person you are about to ASK.
When considering an important monetary decision, does the person use the word/s “investment,” “gift,” “donation,” “opportunity,” “once-in-a life time,” “venture,” “side hobby,” “personal commitment,” “loyalty,” “privilege,” “passion,” “dream/goal”? If so, you need to use that exact word or words when you make your ASK because it will create a cadence and rhythm in your conversation.
One of the biggest mistakes in any ASK is that the ASKER did not share her/his story. Why is this ASK important to the person making the ASK? What led the person to this very special moment in time? Who helped the ASKER get to where he or she is right now? Share the story. Keep your story to a few minutes. Don’t go on for the duration of the meeting, but do remember that stories trump a diatribe of projections, spread sheets, sob stories, or false trust and empty promises each time.
Sharing your story takes a lot of courage, so believe in your ASK and your story will naturally flow.
If I had $1.00 for every time I have witnessed an ASK that never let the person being ASKED speak, I would own Manhattan. This goes back to Element #6, prepare the conversation, so you are not usurping it. I have been guilty of being so excited about an idea that I felt the need to interrupt the person half way through their question, and then both of us were completely thrown off track of what was said. Practicing active listening is a great use of your time. Try it with friends and family. Whenever you have the urge to interrupt, close your mouth, and just listen and look at them with inquisitive eyes. You would be surprised how often the person then ASKS you “what do you think,” and in an ASK, that is a primo place to be. You can then bring the conversation back to the value your ASK will have for the person being ASKED…Sweet!!
Let’s put this out here from the beginning. There is no definite #1 RIGHT answer to what a person will say in response to your ASK.
There are of course ways to answer that will:
No matter what the person says, the first thing you need to say is “Thank You,” and use his or her first name or title. Then you reiterate what you think you heard to ensure you are correct. Last, state your follow-up action, such as: “I’ll call you in 2 days with that data,” “You raised an excellent question. Let me get the answer and call you within the week,” “This is HUGE, I know, so let’s consider your time table so that you have the breathing room to make the right decision.” Action steps and dates are important tools so, use them at this point in the ASK.
There is follow-up such as leaving the decision in the other person’s hands, and then there is REAL follow-up, the kind where you actively put follow-up steps on your calendar to call, text, e-mail, write, invite to an activity – follow-up that makes you persistent not a pain in the neck. Effective follow-up leads to a more immediate answer to your ASK.
Most people “take the money/great answer and run.” BIG mistake. Your next investment will come from the SAME person IF you make sure you keep them engaged.
What did it do? Who did it impact? What can they brag about? What should they get excited about? How can they help you further? These are questions very few people ASK!
Keep your partners as part of your “Dream Team” as you further develop your aspirational ASK. Trust me he or she will want to see all facets of your progress. When you share, you will find your donors will give you great advice on how to take your ASK to the next level. And isn’t that exactly what you want?
Last note – celebrate YOU. You made the best ASK possible, and this is hard work. You did it. Now feel the rush that you can do it again and again. Before he got a yes, Colonel Sanders ASKED more than 1,000 banks to give him a loan, so he could open restaurants for his “secret chicken recipe.” He traveled all over in his crumpled white suite in his car on his social security check before he got a YES. More than 1,000 ASKs – now that is inspiration and motivation, YOU can do it too!
THE ASK© … today’s all-new self-help motivational series for those who have dreams, goals and a strong desire to have the best and most fulfilling personal and professional life possible.