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Just Ask

Barron Ryan

There's a lot of uncertainty to deal with when you're working out agreements with others. 'Why would they be interested in working with me? When will they make a decision? Who will help them decide?' There's a delightfully simple solution to resolving that uncertainty; ask.

That simple yet powerful strategy is the core of a program I participated in earlier this month: the Asking Academy hosted by the Institute for Conversational Fundraising. It's geared toward development professionals in the non-profit world, but has equally valuable applications for artists, entrepreneurs, and salespeople (and those are its graduates in the photo above).

Asking is crucial because it places emphasis on the relationship over the transaction. Instead of immediately spouting off information to an interested prospective client, ask what interested her about your work. That shows that you care not just about making the sale, but about meeting her needs.

That's just one of the lessons I've learned from the Asking Academy, and I'm sure there will be more. If you're in the business of converting interest into action (a.k.a. sales or fundraising), there's a lot you can gain from knowing what questions to ask. Are you asking the right questions?

Full disclosure: I'm good friends with the folks at the Institute for Conversational Fundraising and am a sponsor for the Asking Academy. I wouldn't be if I didn't believe in them though, so this is still quality information.