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Will you Marry me?

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Will you Marry me?

Thankfully, this was not too difficult a question for my husband nearly two years ago. Luckily for him I said yes! For others, it is not so easy to ask this all-important question. Why do men and women fall short of confidence when contemplating such a status-altering question? I could probably list 101 standard reasons why not, and then some! And then you could add a few more relating to your own experiences.

Of course, the next logical step would be to brainstorm ideas and reasons of how to get around the barriers. Advice would fly in, tips and tricks to get us out of the cold shoulder moment…

So back to the point above, why is it so difficult to ask someone to become your partner in life? Well, what if I was to ask why could it be so difficult to ask someone for their business? It’s not like you are asking them to marry you, is it? Or is it? As I was contemplating this question, I thought of some personal and documented reasons why we, as business owners, do not ask for business:

If you don't ask, it won't happen

They might say NO!
It is well documented in the Sales arena, that NO does not always mean “NO!” NO in business is not rejection; it may simply mean that they are not ready to listen to your pitch/proposal at this moment in time, for many possible reasons. If a prospect listens to your proposal and then maintains they are still not interested, it does not mean that you or your furniture products are not interesting; it may simply mean they are not looking to refurnish their offices right now. The biggest mistake a business owner can make here is to take this personally.

Fear of rejection
Similar to above, but goes beyond someone not being interested in your product or service. Business owners, marketers and sales professionals have built up a thick skin over time. Give yourself a chance if you are a Start Up or taking over the sales role in your own business. Remember the stats about rejection and use them to guide you to your next prospect, and not the nearest pub to drown your sorrows!

I don’t want the business
What? How could you be running a business and not want clients/customers? Many assume that if they start a business, of course they want clients. It’s a given. But some businesses are not getting clients. If you do not surround yourself with people who can help you, or talk about your products and services all the time, or look for opportunities to make contacts and more opportunities to turn those contacts into customers, then you are not looking for business.

There is a recession, don’t you know?
Well then pack your bags and go back to college, or on a very long holiday. Recession is not a reason to lose clients or not ask for business. It can cause a downturn, but if you decide there is no business to be had, then you will not ask for it. And you will drown.

So what can we do? Besides cold calling, are there other ways we can ask for business?

Networking events – Yes, it’s all about helping others connect, doing favours for others, finding out what is going on in business etc. The bottom line is, networking still provides us with a specific avenue to ask for business.

How would you make a marriage work? – Tell your wife that she looks pretty,
even if she looks like a truck.

Start wooing your customers – Connect with them, interact with them, and keep them informed about what you are doing and any new areas they should know about. Use the various off-line or on-line strategies available to encourage them to ask you for your services.

Referrals – If you have a good relationship with a client, ask them to refer your product or service, again breaking down the barriers of cold calling. Get as many contacts as possible through your existing network, and establish a basic relationship with them, with the view to asking them for business sooner rather than later.

Become the expert – Join relevant online forums and interact, asking good questions, writing blog-posts :), and answering relevant questions. Be seen and be available. Become the writer you never had time for before. Submit articles for magazines in your field. Follow this up with turning contacts into potential clients.

Improve your professional development – If you have always struggled to sell yourself, you will struggle to sell your business also. Employ a Business Coach or Mentor to help you get past the confidence issues. Attend a Sales Training session to learn more about the process and use these newfound skills to get out there and ask for business

If you don’t get out there and ask, you don’t GET!

I would love to hear your ideas on asking for business, please add them below…

Elaine Rogers is a Business Trainer, Coach and Writer. She takes pain away. She helps soothe the rough and tumble of running a business through education, information and coaching. And a bit of entertainment. Elaine hangs out at The Smart Train She provides online training and coaching solutions in the areas of MS Office Skills, Business Skills, and Soft Skills. She also provides exclusive content for her ever growing email list.

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  • Great post Elaine! You know my advise already… select your platforms and network online!! This is becoming a fantastic way to leverage all the effort you make offline.
    The problem that you outline is very true. I’m amazed at the amount of people in business that I met that are literally “waiting” until things get better (does that mean, so the phone rings so you can just take orders?). Innovation is paramount.
    One of the keys of this game is: how much can I do so at one point others help me bring business? Your business network, your community is absolutely everything. The more you interact and share useful content, stay in touch, help them, the more everybody else in that community will remember perfectly who you are, what you do and possible even the name of your company… That’s exactly what you need in order to ignite quality word of mouth 🙂

  • “Innovation is paramount” – agree Fred, a buzz word that is doing the rounds and coupled with “creativity” makes up the qualities of an entrepreneur.
    I don’t believe everyone HAS to be an entrepreneur to run a successful business, but they must have the ability to go out there and sell their wares.
    So what you are saying is we need to develop on our existing relationships, and pour energy into building new relationships, not just building paying customers/clients? So they become advocates of our businesses?
    Now that’s “quality word of mouth” indeed 🙂

  • Superb analogy Elaine. Fair play. You really do need to go out there and ask for business (a.k.a marketing!) and promoting your business at all times in as many avenues as is practical. There is so much choice out there that you need to be active in going after your target customers otherwise someone else will grab them first. Sure isn’t this why even really successful businesses still market?

  • I agree about marketing – but is Marketing more about brand awareness, or knowing that you exist?
    I spent a lot of time making contacts and friends at network meetings, and after a while, realised I never once indicated I was actually looking for clients. So i think that those of us who are not natural sellers, need to make more of an effort to promote and sell our wares, going beyond talking about ourselves.
    Does that make sense?

    Love your last comment about “really successful businesses still market” – we should never stop 🙂
    Thank you for interacting Barney, much appreciated!

  • lol Elaine, I simply love the analogy. Great title! Can I suggest that there is always more to be learnt from hearing “no” than hearing “yes” Asking for business should never be a big deal, qualification and timing are the key skills here. Ask before time, you will hear no, ask a non-genuine prospect, you will hear no. The only other reason for no is that something happens in between that has changed the situation or circumstance. Most businesses and people hear lots of nos because they are poor at researching, prospecting, qualifying, analysis, selling and timing. Closing (asking for the biz) is actually by far the easiest to do. In other words, get the other bits right and it is the natural rather then unnatural conclusion,

  • Yes, of course you can suggest there is more to learn from the NO’s. (The quality of our YES depends on how many times we say NO).
    If asking for business should not be a big deal, then that leaves half the country with a big problem. I understand your comment about closing the sale, but I am referring to even before that stage – how we can attract business from the outset.
    Thanks for your insight and tips about research and analysis, I am off now to do a bit of my own research…

  • Half the country have a big problem cause they are selling (I use the term loosely) the same products to a much smaller market in the same way. In many cases, its not that they have a bad business, it’s that they are unable or unwilling to make the changes to be successful in this market. Innovation is the key strategy so start by asking yourself, what have I done that was innovative in the last 12 months. For a great many Irish businesses, the closest they have come to innovation is cutting costs, I mean come on! So business WAS easy, get over it! we have lulled ourselves into thinking that it should always be. In a general sense, there now exists about as much creativity as in an old boot, we desperately need a radical change of direction, to get off our arses and make it happen. We have a lazy systems and inept leaders, let’s start by kicking them out, find the talent and get the show on the road (for real this time)

  • PS: I am sure you will appreciate that my rant is not aimed directly at you but rather “the glass half empty” and the “poor me” brigade. Unfortunately however they are unlikely to see it as I am pretty sure they are unaware of the existence of BT 🙂

  • Great post Elaine and you’re so right. When it gets down to it, people should be asking themselves what have they done this week to bring in business, and how many people have they asked for business this week…and every week!! Love the analogy.

  • HI Elaine. What you are saying indeed makes sense on the sales side. I think through our networking at events we are effectively “marketing”ourselves – even if we don’t mention that we are looking for clients. Marketing is about awareness as you say – and networking raises that awareness. But yes, in relation to those of us who are not natural sellers – we need to be more forthcoming about “selling” – I know for a fact that I find it an uncomfortable cloth to wear ::)

  • Anonymous

    Great Post Elaine

    I guess fear of rejection and fear of cold calling are major reasons why we don’t ask for business. Unfortunately rejection is part of the course BUT cold calling doesn’t always have to be.

    My attitude to asking for Biz is SWSWSW – Some Will, Some Won’t, So What!! When I get a “NO” I tell myself I am no worse off and that I am actually one rejection closer to that important “YES”.

    How do I ask for business?

    My strategy is to make myself visible so that my customers find me and I go the extra mile to deliver so that happy customers tell other customers.

    By the way – fear of rejection didn’t deter me from asking my wife to marry but rather fear of bankruptcy 🙂


  • Thanks a lot Paul,
    Its a topic close to my heart, as I consistently struggle with selling myself, and my services. Give me someone else’s ability to sell, or a “thing”, and I’ll make a good effort. It’s an area that I must continually focus on to improve (and perfect lol). Am doing well this week, so far!

  • Well well well, I am sure your wife forgives you 😉
    I like your strategy, thanks for sharing.
    I love your acronym – SWSWSW – and your attitude towards NO, so practical, and I could nearly convince myself that rejection is consistently bringing me closer to a YES.
    Cheers, I am in a great mood today, but now beaming from ear to ear 🙂

  • “what have I done that was innovative in the last 12 months” – every business should ask themselves this question, instead of getting caught up in the proverbial “headlights”.
    I agree that organisations had become complacent, and their inability to innovate or change direction, means that they are not in existence today. Ironic that nature has the ability to wheedle out the weak, such a natural process really.
    I take your points Niall, as you have great insight into what sales professionals are doing on the ground to improve things. I take it from your comment, too many are refusing to take on their difficulties or challenges, and are using the blame game a little too quickly.
    The “poor me” brigades will find themselves out of clients soon enough, leaving the space for talent and innovation to shine through. And you and I are there to encourage them to get the “show on the road” and further inspire them to read Bloggertone 😉

  • Hi Cindy, great to have you back 🙂 I loved Lisa’s “10 Reasons Not To Ignore Your Blog For Facebook” & looking forward to catching up on your other suggestions. Thanks, Niall

  • Hi Cindy. Another fine selection as always. The one about commenting on other peoples blogs to generate new business definitely rings true. It’s certainly driving traffic to my site. Thanks for sharing.

  • Yes i will marry . Yes i will marry the ideas you have. Yes I have learnt few things today.Yes I agree I would avoid clients who had refused me business when I had visited then few times. I will visit them again.You have infused confidence in me.And thanks to all of you for giving good insight.Love you all.

  • Anonymous

    Great post Elaine, I was directed here by Niall Devitt as I’ve recently written about the similarities between the honeymoon period and customer relationships—-we’ve got a theme going 🙂

    To me, getting a no means one of two things a) the prospect doesn’t need what we can provide them with at the moment or b) we haven’t communicated how we can help properly- the prospect needs to see the benefits of doing business with you or you can forget it! That’s why I always suggest asking as many questions as possible, figuring out what the problem is and only then let the prospect know how you can help. A superb sales trainer, Dermot McConkey, says it’s always about WIIFM (What’s In It For Me?) and I think it should be a mantra when out looking for business, you need to answer that question for your prospects!

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