There are two lines of thinking here. My thinking is driven by a VP I used to work with at Microsoft. He suggested that people put the ask up front. He didn’t want a lot of pre-amble. He wanted the ask. Then, if he needed more detail he would ask for them. Most of the time he would agree to the ask … because we did our homework. This was not to be manipulative. It was his way of maximizing his time and the time and resources of the partner.
What’s an ask? This is not exclusive to Microsoft. An ask is the simple act of making the request for whatever you are seeking.
I did an informal survey on Facebook as a sanity check. Most everyone agreed that making the ask up front was best. However, several of them had very good ideas for using a little bit of time at the beginning of the conversation to establish trust and to get a feel for how the conversation might go.
For example, asking how their day has been going might lead to an understanding that today might not be the day to make your ask. This is just conversational courtesy and will help build trust as well as a dialogue.
The other line of thinking is to provide a lot of detail upfront in the form of a pre-amble. No matter what it is important to know your points and justifications for each. Whether you deliver this as a pre-amble or after you make your ask can make a difference in the ultimate success of your request. However, in my experience I’ve found it better to provide the details when needed. Usually, that can be AFTER you make the ask.
After the Ask
After you have gotten what you have asked for … be ready to either:
A. Say thank you and move on.
B. Make your next ask.
Keep in mind a few Key Points:
Do all of these BEFORE making your first ask.
This is not Let’s Make a Deal — You don’t get to play this like it’s 20 Questions.
It’s On You! You need to really think through your asks.
Clear, Crisp, Cogent and Concise – Boil them Down, consider alternatives, re-evaluate, re-phrase and if needed re-consider.
Make the Ask … Everyone Wins!
And do it near the front of the conversation
On of the people in my informal Facebook survey said – if you are going to a fundraiser … EVERYONE knows they will be donating something. That’s why you are there … right? The organizers job is to get more from each donor. Not in a smarmy or disrespectful way. Just as part of the process. Again, everyone should know they will be asked for just a little more.
No one is surprised. No one is shocked that a request was made of their time and money. Everyone should expect that there will be an ask.
Why Make the Ask?
Because people expect it. Because people expect it you should practice for these situations. The more practice you get the better you’ll get at making the ask. This is a great skill to learn, practice and perfect. As you get better at formulating your questions, creating your asks you will stand out in your career. Your reputation for being diligent when thinking through scenarios and coming up with alternative scenarios as well as really knowing your business will come through.
Key Point: It’s not about manipulating someone else. Yes, there are those that make over the top asks and may make people feel uncomfortable. I’m not discounting or encouraging these people, but that’s another technique you need to learn. It’s call Saying No! As I wrote about here in The Response You are Searching for is NO.
When you plan up front, evaluate what you really want and think through scenarios you will be known as someone who prepares and is ready for the conversation.
Think back to a time when you were getting ready for a meeting and trying to determine what they were going to ask for before you even stepped foot in that meeting. By taking some time up front you will be able to prepare for your side of the conversation and with some forethought you be able to think through the other side of the conversation too. Be ready.
Don’t disappoint them. Make the Ask … Everyone Wins!