Okay, so you’re not “in sales” so to speak. Your business and livelihood isn’t tied to actually selling something to someone else – BUT you’re still responsible for getting stuff done.
- You lead a team.
- You influence others.
- You negotiate terms.
- You need or want something from someone (in business).
You need sales skills to get any of these things done. We can call it something else, if that makes you feel better…but for today’s purposes, we’re calling them sales skills.
There are plenty of different “skills” one can master to influence others, but I want to focus on three really important things to start with.
The most important thing you can do before you ask someone for anything is to really listen to them. Who are they? What are their pain points? What are they responsible for? How are they motivated?
When you ask these questions and then really listen to the answers – you’re in a much better situation when it’s time to ask for what you need.
Here’s the challenge – listen to truly hear their answer and understand their situation rather than listening to respond. This is HARD. We’re all guilting of thinking about what we’re going to say next. The real challenge here is to genuinely hear what the person is saying.
This is valuable for two reasons…
1 – Most people don’t do this these days. You will instantly be seen as someone who is thoughtful and interested.
2 – When you really understand a person’s situation, you’re in a much better position to help solve their problem.
Practice this as often as you can. You will see a difference in how your conversations go!
Use Intentional Language
If you’re not used to asking for things a lot, you probably find it a little bit intimidating and uncomfortable. Totally natural.
My best advice to you is to use intentional language. What do I mean by that?
Instead of “I’m hoping you might be able to find some time to talk to me about…”
Go with “Can we schedule 15 minutes of time to discuss…”
“I know you’re super busy, but I was hoping you could help me with..”
Instead “Can you help me with….”
Don’t object for them! Ask for what you want and let them tell you that they’re busy, can’t help you, or whatever. Don’t create friction where it doesn’t exist!
Another word you to take out of your vocabulary when asking for something – JUST.
I was just following up…
I was just stopping by…
Can you just give me a few minutes…
Nope. Nope. Nope.
I’m following up, as promised,
I stopped by to introduce myself.
I’d like a few minutes of your time.
Be direct. Ask for what you want. Be intentional with your language. It will make a difference.
Follow up. Follow up. Follow up.
Have you ever heard that the fortune is in the follow up?! It’s true.
In most instances, when we’re asking for something – the person isn’t able to respond right away. Maybe they have to check their calendar, confirm with their boss, give it some thought, or whatever.
This means that you’re going to have to follow up to get your answer. And, you’re probably going to have to follow up more than once.
If you’re not used to it, I get that it makes you uncomfortable. You worry about being pushy or annoying. Here’s the deal – you’re busy right? Do you answer every email you get? Do you remember to answer all of your text messages? Do you need to be reminded to get back with the people that are waiting on you for an answer?
How do you feel when someone follows up with you? In most instances, aren’t you grateful for the reminder? Aren’t you embarrassed that you forgot to get back to that person?
Truth be told, that’s likely the instance with the person you’re waiting on for an answer as well. They’re busy. The person they needed to talk to to give you an answer was busy. They got pulled into a meeting. They’re on deadline for something important.
In order for you to get an answer (positive or negative) – you need to follow up.
The key is GOOD follow up.
Be intentional. Remember – be direct in your ask.
I’m not “just following up…” – I’m waiting on a specific answer you promised me.
If you’re following up for the second or third time – DO NOT apologize. You didn’t do anything wrong. Don’t be sorry for bothering someone. Instead, give them permission to say no.
For instance, “Sarah, we had a great conversation about getting this done. Your timeline was 2-3 weeks. If that’s not our timeline anymore – can you update me on our next steps? Thanks!”
“Joe – in our last conversation you asked me to follow up in 2-3 days. I am confident that I can help with your situation, but never want to be an annoyance. Can you give me some insight into our next steps and how I can support you?”
“Rachel, I’m still waiting for confirmation from you on our next steps. Is there any additional information I can provide for you to move forward? I’m happy to follow up early next week, if that works with your schedule?”
Be professional. Be clear in your ask. And make it clear that you’re going to follow up again. Another key to success in follow up – vary your touch points. Email. Phone. Text. Stop by.
Different approaches will work better with different people – so keep changing it up!
Even if you’re not directly asking for business every day, you do need buy in from those around you. Implement these 3 things and let me know how it feels in your world and your business!