Asking for it (blog post and doodle) #doodle


2012-04-13 #1337

Are you good at asking for what you want? Asking for what you need?
Asking for a sale? I’m not. I mean come on, it’s an introvert’s
nightmare, but I’ve tried to get better at it because I think it’s
important. Important in life and essential if you’re in business for

Like me, many coaches, freelancers, creative people, consultants and
other entrepreneurs just aren’t very good at it. Some are lousy
askers because they are so uncomfortable with the process. They worry
about offending or putting people on the spot. They don’t want to
make waves, or are afraid they are going to come off sounding like
some caricature of the worst used car salesmen and telemarketer
combined. They are the under-askers.

Under-askers launch their own business because they were good at
something: making web sites, designing logos, writing copy, taking
pictures, grooming dogs, training people, finding tax loopholes etc.,
etc. They’re motivated by doing the thing they are good at, not just
by ringing the cash register. However, to be able to do the things
they’re good at they need to be able to ask for things. Things like
time, things like space, things like money. They need to ask for
loans, and clarification on projects, and they need most of all to ask
for the sale. But it is so tempting for the under-asker to just stay
home at her desk, or sit in the coffee shop with her laptop and
earphones on, insulated by an aura of concentration that clearly sends
the signal “no, don’t interrupt me – can’t you see I’m busy?” They
dodge the interaction not because they’re anti-social, but because
asking for a sale feels squirmy and uncomfortable. It feels safer (and
misleadingly productive) to stay secluded, pull in the radar and work
work work on their chosen craft.

There is also another kind of person who is bad at asking, the
over-asker. They are what the under-asker fears becoming. They only
see their side of the ask, the “what’s in it for me?” side. They ask
too soon, or too much, or too soon for too much. They push too hard,
or persist too long. People get annoyed by them. People get put off.
And yet the over-askers always seem to be oblivious to the irritation
they leave in their wake.

And the frustrating thing is that the over-askers often seem to do
better than our shy and industrious under-askers. Why? Because
whichever type of asker you are, if you want to stay in business, you
need to make the sale. And to make the sale you have to ask for the
sale. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. If this upsets you, don’t
panic… over-askers and under-askers aren’t the only game in town.

Somewhere in the middle between the over-asking and the under-asking
is the magical land of just right. The people who dwell here are
tactful, yet inquisitive. Probing, yet respectful. They balance
interest and empathy. They inform without overstepping. They build
relationships, and put the customer’s needs above their own. They’re
patient, yet they move things forward, and they’re not afraid to walk
away if the answer isn’t right. They’re valued, trusted and respected.
They’ve found the balance. Call them the balanced-askers.

Are you an under-asker who wants to become a successful
balanced-asker? Yes? Then I’m going to ask you to do something that’s
going to make you uncomfortable. I want you to spend the next month
doing your darnedest to be an over-asker.

What’s that? Did you just gulp? Are you hiding under the desk? Are you
pulling out your hair or clinging to the ceiling? Well before you do
anything rash, hear me out: whatever vision you have in your head of
an annoying, abrasive, pushy, insensitive over-asker, trust me when I
say that you, as a chronic under-asker, are going to be hard-pressed
to ramp up to that level of irritation in just one short month.

So why am I asking you to act like someone you don’t want to be?
Because asking, like anything else in business, is a skill and an art.
It requires study and practice – lots of practice. And giving yourself
the mental assignment of becoming an over-asker is a way to free your
inhibitions. It liberates you to try, with all the oblivious freedom
your new alter ego can summon, to step up to the ask and make
mistakes, and then ask again; to ask too soon, and ask again, to ask
inappropriately and ask again. To get rejected and know they’re not
rejecting you, they’re rejecting that over-asking persona that you’ve
been wearing like a new suit for a month.

The idea is to face the discomfort, and build some momentum for a
habit that will get you out from behind the earplugs and into the
world asking and improving with every question. Asking with the
fearlessness of the over-asker, but the empathy of the under-asker who
still lives inside you. Asking until you become the balanced-asker
that your business needs. The one who knows how to use questions to
build trust and strengthen relationships, and identify needs. The one
who is never afraid to ask for the sale, because she knows when the
time is right to do so. The one who isn’t rattled by rejection,
because she’s practiced the art of asking. Practice may not make
perfect, but one thing it certainly does bring is confidence, and
confident asking is essential to the sales success of any business.

Don’t take my word for it, I’m asking you to try asking for yourself.
Over-ask for a month and let me know how it goes.

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