I remember as a kid I used to feel left out by those that received special gifts, access, or invitations to special events. I would think that maybe I wasn’t liked as well, maybe there was a problem having me along, or maybe someone else had suggested to not include me. I know, a little therapy was valuable for this. But, as an adult, I realized I could still make myself feel this way when others got what I wanted.
What I found when I was young was also the answer to what I could do now. I had to ask.
Once, several years ago, when our kids were small and money was very tight, my neighbour had somehow received tickets to box-seats for a local hockey game. She did not get them for free, but she had paid a good price for them and had six. She had two extra. I found out that she had invited a woman across the street, whom she barely knew, instead of me, a friend she saw weekly. I was hurt and stewed over the reasons behind this. Obviously, she or her husband did not like me or my husband. What else could it be? Several weeks after that incident I built up the courage to ask her and guess what I found? She had not invited me because she did not want to make me feel bad knowing that I did not have the money to purchase the $200 ticket.
Two-hundred dollars? She was right, I didn’t. She was wrong to assume I’d understand her reason when she didn’t tell me, but she was right I would not have purchased the tickets. So I asked her another question. “Would you always please include me and allow me to make my own decisions?” She agreed.
In business, this happens often. People are afraid to ask for the sale and to make follow-up phone calls to find out if people are ready to purchase or to simply ask what people need in their business. It feels salesy, and we all hate to feel salesy.
Years ago, when my focus was technical writing for medical device manufacturers, I had a prospect that had indicated he needed my services. I phoned several times in a few weeks, sometimes leaving messages, usually not. Then I reduced the frequency to once every two weeks, then once a month. At around the 6-month mark, I left this message, “… I don’t want to harass you and I don’t want to stop calling if you need me. Please let me know if I should stop calling…” and left my contact information again. Can you believe that he called me later that day? He apologized for not returning my calls earlier. The company had run into some regulatory issues and they had been running full-out these past 6 months. Yes, he still needed me, but they were not ready. Please keep checking in. So I did, and I got their business.
I’ve had other instances where following up, which sometimes feels salesy when you are making 6 or more calls, resulted in a sale. I have never had someone be upset with me. Ever! Recently, I was surprised to find out that one prospect had put me on her vision board. I am her next step to growing a bigger business. All I had to do was reach out.
If you want to really make leaps in your business, don’t let your assumptions about what people want, or why they do what they do, stop you from finding out how you can help them. If you want something, you have to ask for it.