Join Tatiana Kolovou for an in-depth discussion in this video Making a request, part of Communication Tips Weekly.
- A fundamental principle in all good sales training is that you must make the ask. That is, you need to do more than just talk about your product or service, you also need to ask if the client would like to purchase. Whether you make traditional sales calls or you present ideas to internal stakeholders, you need to know how to make that call to action. Here are the four things to remember about effective action requests. First, make the ask.
Second, find the right tone. Positive, but not pushy. Third, make the next steps easy for the listener. And finally, create a sense of urgency. My colleague, Tatiana, and I were asked to make a presentation to a potential client for an extensive training program. We practiced our presentation several times and, I'm telling you, it was good. Not to brag, but it was pretty awesome. But, as we wrapped up our rehearsal session, Tatiana realized that we had never really made the ask.
We just assumed that because we'd made a great pitch that we'd be chosen. Remember, step one is to actually make the request. So we decided we'd practice the ending of our presentation again with an actual call to action. Our first attempt sounded something like this, "If you think our program has merit, "perhaps we could begin our training "in a couple of months." What do you think? Awesome request? No, not really.
The tone sounds way too tentative. We needed a more positive tone for sure. But, if we'd said, "We are certain our training "will improve the communication of your employees. "So, we've scheduled the training series to begin next month," is not any better because we've gone from not asking at all to telling them to do the training. While the tone may sound more positive, less tentative in this second attempt, it is still not a request. And now it's too pushy.
Let's try it again. "Our first step in beginning a training series "is to provide a contract for review "by your legal department. "Here is the document so you can look it over "at your leisure and get back with us "when you get some time. "So, would you like to move forward?" I think we're making progress. We've actually made a request and not a command, "Would you like to move forward?" And, we've made the next steps easy, "Here's the contract." However, there is still one important step missing.
We haven't created a sense of urgency. While the client may love this training and be interested in booking us, he's a busy guy. The language in that last attempt did nothing to prevent our project from getting put on the back burner of the client's to-do list. One small edit and I think we've got it. "Our first step in beginning a training series "is to provide a contract for review. "Here is the document, so you can look it over.
"We book about three months in advance, "so to make sure you get the dates for training "that you prefer, please return this "in the mailer provided, by the end of next week. "How does this sound to you? "Would you like to move forward?" Now, we added an authentic reason, our availability, to book sooner rather than later. Our multi-attempt effort to get it right paid off. We did land the training contract. Maybe we would have without our action request, but maybe not.
Don't risk it. Next time you want someone to take a certain course of action, make the ask.
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