By Jack Canfield
Ask and you shall receive.
How many times have you heard that? But how many times have you used this fundamental truth in your daily life recently?
Let me put it this way: when was the last time you asked for a written endorsement from a client or colleague?
How about feedback from your customers? Or the opportunity to renegotiate something that just doesn't work for you?
I can't tell you how often I watch business professionals--especially those in sales and marketing positions--falter because they simply stop practicing the art of asking.
If you were to ask successful top executives how they got to where they are, I bet most would admit they "asked to get to the top." In other words, they knew when and how to ask the right questions so they could gather the right information, build their reputation, seek useful referrals, generate new business, and expand their audience or customer base.
If the simple act of asking is so critical, then why don't more people do it?
Because for some reason, people falsely think asking implies weakness and sets one up for potential rejection. It's easy to come up with all sorts of excuses to avoid asking questions that can return unexpected or critical answers. Yet the world responds to those who ask.
If you are not moving closer to what you want, you probably aren't doing enough asking. Here are seven asking strategies you can implement in your business (and in life) to boost your results:
1.) Ask for Information
You can never have too much information; in fact, the higher up you go, the more you need to know. To win potential new clients, you first need to have an understanding about their current challenges, what they want to accomplish and how they plan to do it. Only then can you proceed to demonstrate the advantages of your unique product or service.
Ask questions starting with the words who, why, what, where, when and how to obtain the information you need. Only when you truly understand and appreciate a prospect's needs can you offer a solution.
2.) Ask for Business
Would you believe that more than 60 percent of the time salespeople never ask for the order after giving a complete presentation about the benefits of their product or service?!
It's true, and a painful statistic that could put anyone out of business quickly if it's not changed. Always ask a closing question to secure the business. Don't waffle or talk around it--or worse, wait for your prospect to ask you. No doubt you have heard of many good ways to ask the question, "Would you like to give it a try?" The point is, ask.
3.) Ask for Written Endorsements
These can be difficult to ask for if you don't like tooting your own horn, but well-written, results-oriented testimonials from highly respected people are powerful for future sales. They solidify the quality of your product or service and leverage you as a person who has integrity, is trustworthy and gets the job done on time.
When is the best time to ask? Right after you have provided excellent service, gone the extra mile, or made your customer really happy. Simply ask if your customer would be willing to give you a testimonial about the value of your product or service, plus any other helpful comments.
4.) Ask for Top-Quality Referrals
Just about everyone in business knows the importance of referrals. It's the easiest, least expensive way of ensuring your growth and success in the marketplace. Your core clients will gladly give you referrals because you treat them so well. So why not ask all of them for referrals? It's a habit that will dramatically increase your income. Like any other habit, the more you ask the easier it becomes.
5.) Ask for More Business
Look for other products or services you can provide your customers. Devise a system that tells you when your clients will require more of your products. The simplest way is to ask your customers when you should contact them to reorder. It's easier to sell your existing clients more than to go looking for new ones.
6.) Ask for Feedback
This is an important component of asking that is often overlooked. How do you really know if your product or service is meeting your customers' needs? Ask them, "How are we doing? What can we do to improve our service to you? Please share what you like or don't like about our products." Set up regular customer surveys that ask good questions and tough questions. It's a powerful way to fine-tune your business.
7.) Ask to Renegotiate
The negotiating room should never be locked up for good. Regular business activities include negotiation and often re-negotiation. Many networkers get stuck because they lack skills in negotiation, yet this is simply another form of asking that can save a lot of time and money. All sorts of contracts can be renegotiated in your personal life, too, such as changing your credit card terms and rates. As long as you negotiate ethically and in the spirit of a win-win, you can enjoy a lot of flexibility. Nothing is ever cast in stone. It's only in stone if you don't speak up!
The 5 Secrets to Successful Asking
The first stumbling block for most is knowing how to ask. There are five secrets to great asking that can guarantee you results, however big or small.
If you ever find yourself hitting brick walls and coming up short in responses, come back to these five tips:
Like speaking a different language, asking takes continual practice until it becomes a regular, reflexive habit. The sooner you build your "Ask Muscle", the sooner you'll see the results you've been waiting--and searching--for.
Don't think asking only relates to work-related goals and tasks. Bring this practice home to enrich your relationships with your family members and your friends, too!
I trust you'll be surprised and delighted at what you discover about yourself in this process. Happy asking!
© 2010 Jack Canfield
You can, as long as you include this complete statement with it: Jack Canfield, America's #1 Success Coach, is founder of the billion-dollar book brand Chicken Soup for the Soul© and a leading authority on Peak Performance and Life Success. If you're ready to jump-start your life, make more money, and have more fun and joy in all that you do, get your FREE success tips from Jack Canfield now at: www.FreeSuccessStrategies.com
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