This week’s blog is a guest post from James Oakley of James Oakley Media. I’ve written before about the attitude of “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” and I love that James really applies this, not least by nicely “stalking” me in order to get the advice and mentorship he wanted in order to make a success of his business.
If you don’t ask you don’t get. That phrase and advice has been as valuable to me as any during the growth of my company.
What’s the worst that can happen? Usually the answer is something that won’t really affect you or your business much at all. It’s something people are often reluctant to do, so I want to share with you some real life examples of where you can gain by asking.
1. New Business
The most direct ‘profit’ of asking is getting a new client or an existing client spending more money with you.
Are you doing a brilliant job for your clients? If so, are you asking them who they know who could also benefit from your product or service. I make a point of doing this after the first month of working with new clients, and often get new contacts and results. If you don’t get a referral, ask again a couple of months later.
Do you have other products that would benefit an existing client? Or are you looking to expand your offering? Why not call your existing clients and ask about what more you can do for them, what are their paint points they’d like taken care of?
The worst that can happen? They tell you you’re already taking care of all their needs and doing a great job. In which case – ask for a recommendation you can use in your online or offline marketing!
2. New opportunities for your Business to grow
I’ve mentioned this in a previous guest blog, but my previous company, a travel specialist focusing on the Greek islands was caught right in the middle of the Greek Bailout Crisis.
The BBC emailed us, asking to speak to my contacts in the industry about how badly they were being affected. I was determined that we could use this to our advantage if the BBC spoke with me instead, as we could use ‘Featured on the BBC’ on our website and marketing, and show us as a trusted provider in uncertain times.
It took me a couple of emails and two telephone calls (I was living in Florence at the time) but eventually they agreed, featuring me and the company twice in a couple of months. We then used this live interview as a trust marketing tool on our website. We had our strongest year, profit and turnover wise, that we’d ever had.
3. Friendship (massively undervalued)
Running a company can be a lonely “business”. Having someone in a similar (or ideally better) position to yourself can be a huge benefit, even if you simply meet once in a while to discuss what’s going on, what’s going well and what’s not. Someone you don’t need to worry about sounding too proud about your achievements with, and someone you feel comfortable sharing your biggest worries and problems.
If you meet someone through a contact, networking or life in general, don’t be afraid to take contact details and arrange to meet again. Be personable, make them want to meet you again too. One of the most valuable things I do today, but don’t do often enough is meet with a great friend and business owner for a catch up and to talk through how things are going.
4. Hotels and Upgrades
Ask for upgrades! If you’re in London on a reasonably regular basis and have ‘your hotel’ that you always stay at, use this to your advantage. I called to book a hotel only last month and asked them as I was a reasonably regular resident could I have the last minute booking at the early booking price, and with breakfast included for free.
I sure could. And they gave me a free room upgrade too.
When I arrived they asked me why I didn’t usually book direct through them. So I asked them to give me reasons as to why I should. We now have an agreement where if I book direct I’ll always get a room upgrade where available, breakfast and the best value price. They avoid the commission of booking websites and I’m happy too. Everyone wins.
5. Star employees for your company
Do you think the quality of your employees is governed by how much you pay and how much holiday you can offer? I’d beg to differ. To give a real life example I had a meeting with a great candidate who I felt would fit really well into the company. Given their CV and the role offered I felt they may ask for more money than the position offered. I was right, 50% more.
But given the benefits we had to offer, the chance to work with our fantastic clients and the ability to make a real, tangible difference within a growing business, we agreed upon what was originally offered, and set a date in the future to discuss, based on performance.