- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

How To Ask For What You Want

21st June, 2018

How To Ask For What You Want

I found a small boy elbow-deep in my fridge the other day.


As I walked into the kitchen he spun around, a smoothie in one hand and a sausage in the other, looking sheepish.


He was on a playdate with my son and I wasn’t expecting to find him rooting around my fridge like that.


Whilst finding him enough snacks to tide him over until teatime (‘It was fish pie for lunch at school. Yuck’) he told me that he’d been too shy to ask for a snack and had decided to take the matter into his own hands. Bless.


But it’s not just 8-year-old boys who get shy, is it? We often get a bit coy about asking for help in business.


We don’t want to appear pushy or ‘in your face’. And anyway, we tell ourselves, clients will automatically think of us if an opportunity comes up, won’t they? They’ll refer us to other businesses as a matter of course, won’t they?


Well no, actually. Because your clients are just like you and me – busy, distracted and often thinking about themselves and their own businesses, not yours.


Being passive is a huge mistake.


We have to ASK for what we want. Politely, respectfully and straightforwardly. But we do have to ask.


So think about when you last …


  • asked a client to refer you to another business they work with (this is much more effective than just asking for generic referrals)
  • suggested to a client that you help them with a different challenge or in a different area of their business (they may not know that you do this kind of work)
  • asked for business in your newsletter or other marketing communications


Because however good you are, you may not always be top of mind with the people who matter most.


And a simple email or phone call can make the difference between winning a big new client and letting it slip through our fingers.


As my mum always says (usually when she’s trying, mostly successfully, to blag an upgrade with an airline/hotel/restaurant):


Don’t ask, don’t get.


She’s a wise woman, my mum.

University of Cambridge


- Next trainer development cohort 10th - 14th June 2024

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