I’m going to help kick off colleague April Brown’s new, live Charity Auction World internet TV show tonight with the topic of “The Ask”.
The Ask is when you ask for something that ties into your business, or in this case, into the charity you’re raising money for. People in non-profit work often have trouble with asking for money, or supplies, or whatever it is that they need – unless they are passionate about what their ask may help accomplish.
As a fundraising auctioneer, I work with volunteers all the time who are going to help with charity auctions. The volunteers often are very enthusiastic – they want to help the event succeed – and they will do ANYTHING to help – uh, oh – except procurement (asking for and collecting the items and services for the auction).
Yes – no one actually wants to ask for things. They want to raise a lot of money, but they are not comfortable with “the ask”.
People tell me they don’t want to be like an aggressive salesperson – they often use a car salesman as an analogy. There is a tape in their head about particular experiences when someone asked them in an unprofessional manner to buy something and they don’t want to be – they call it – “salesy”.
Asking for what you need in order for your business (or your event) to be successful is a good thing. You simply need to frame the idea in your mind ahead of time – then there is no stopping you. So either in your business, or in your fundraising event – think these 3 things through in the beginning:
1. Know and believe in your mission and vision. You may have a great product or service — and until you sell the products and services, it is simply an idea or an incubator, or a custom project. Making viable products for sale, then exchanging the products or services for money is what business is all about. Believe in your vision, in your mantra – and it will be easy to ask for what you need.
2. Make it easy for people to buy. Have a simple selection, and an easy-to-understand value proposition. Once people have to think too hard, they will put off their decision, then they most likely will get sidetracked.
3. Get over your personal issues about asking for what you want. Hire someone to help you with this – like a coach, or just think about what is most uncomfortable, and then think through how your products or services provide value in the world. If you truly believe the value that your products provide, it comes down to the fact that you are really not doing your job UNLESS you are letting people know about your products and asking about getting them involved.
Have conversations with people, not sales. If you start at the beginning of the conversation, and passionately walk people through the process – then it is simply bringing the conversation to a closure – and asking the person you’re talking with if they’d like your product to help them with whatever it is they are working to accomplish.
Email your stories about “the ask” – I look forward to reading them. What has been hardest in asking for sales and what has been the greatest surprise?