What Does An ‘Ask’ Look Like? A Checklist.

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we will use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is: Just Ask. Just Ask. Just Ask.

In the For Impact world A REAL ASK satisfies this checklist:

  • We were WITH a prospect – physically.
    See Just Visit. There are exceptions to this but 19 times out of 20 the ask is done in person so that there is engagement and dialogue.
  • We asked the prospect for specific help with a specific project, program or level of support.
    In doing so the dollar figure was clear. Example: “John, we need your help, would it be possible for you to underwrite this project for $20,000?”It wasn’t open-ended, we didn’t ask, “Could you give whatever you can give?”

    Also, in being specific, the funding rationale wasn’t for ‘unrestricted’ or ‘operations’ – those aren’t specific. (See: Have a Funding Rationale)

  • The ask was a dialogue – a back and forth with questions and listening — so that we could ensure that we were maximizing the relationship at this given moment.
    Read: The Ask as a Dialogue to help with this concept.
  • We will expect a YES or a NO – and will follow-up accordingly.
    Thinking about how to get to a YES or NO ensures you have covered appropriate mechanics and you can continue within a sales process. Otherwise, there is a risk of pending into oblivion or unclear follow-up.

Without the definition provided by this checklist we often find:

  • A visit is scored as an ask.
  • There is no real ask – but rather a suggestion that it would be great to have the prospect’s help.
  • Some psychological shift whereby the salesperson only asks AFTER the prospect says he or she would like to make a gift. That’s not an ask. The relationship certainly wasn’t maximized and it’s an incredibly low return-on-energy methodology.
  • The salesperson raises money without asking. This is similar to point above. To be clear, just showing up DOES yield funding – this is our point behind JUST VISIT!But, in terms of measurement this is harder to spot (and therefore coach around), and usually shows up because a sales person will report the following:
    • 25 visits
    • 20 asks
    • 3 commits
    • 0 declines

    If you follow this ask checklist, you SHOULD get a ‘no’ from time-to-time.

  • There was a request for help, but there was no funding rationale or dialogue. We see this with a lot of organizations that ARE raising money. They’re out visiting, they’re asking the prospect to help but they’re not maximizing the relationship. (Not the worst problem in the world – but usually leaving tons of money on the table).

Some reminders:

  • We’re pushing for everyone to be more assertive. That doesn’t mean you always have to ask for funding on the first visit. There are certainly many times where it’s a discovery or predisposition visit (but never 4-5 ‘cultivation’ visits before we ask).
  • Kerry was with a client last week and they visited with a high capacity prospect for a first time discovery visit. There was no ask, however Kerry did ask for permission to make the ask. She closed the visit by saying to the prospect, “Today we wanted to share the vision and see if we could get you on board with our story. As we move along would it be okay to talk to you about supporting that vision?”
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