Get What You Need By Asking for Advice–NOT Help
If you need help from someone, anyone, you’ll find that asking for advice instead
of a favor/direct help is often an excellent way to acquire both.
When I was just a few years into my speaking business there was one
particular company I very much wanted as a client. I was constantly
frustrated in my attempts to reach a decision-maker because, in
this case, the company was so large, it was extremely difficult to
even find out who it was; not to mention knowing the correct
Eventually, I learned of a person in a different field who had them
as a client. I knew him only indirectly, and (based on several
factors) felt that to ask him *directly* for help via a referral or
personal introduction would be inappropriate at that time.
Instead, I asked him for advice. I said, “Tom, I understand that
‘XYZ’ company is a client of yours. I’ve been trying to get them as
a client for some time now, with no success. First, please know
that I am absolutely not asking you for a referral. I’m just
wondering if you could give me some advice on how to go about
learning who to contact in the first place and the best way to
reach that person.”
Well, Tom did much more than that. He actually introduced me to the
decision-maker by way of a telephone call, and that company became a
huge client of mine for several years. I truly believe that had I
come right out and asked Tom for help, he would have found that to
be presumptuous and resisted. But, since I merely asked for advice,
he was all too happy to take the next step. Again, this works in
all types of situations and, in my opinion, for two main reasons.
One is that people don’t mind being asked for and giving advice but
don’t necessarily enjoy being asked to hand over the fruits of
their years of hard work. The second reason is that being asked
feels good. Most people enjoy feeling as though they might make a
difference in someone’s life so, when someone humbly asks for
advice, they’re only too happy to provide it.
Note: There are times when coming right out and asking for direct
help is totally appropriate. The above situation just didn’t happen
to be one of those times. If you feel that is the case, then simply
ask for advice.
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