“But I told her everything and nothing happened,” the young man complained to me, as he related his failed efforts to convince his girlfriend to marry him.
“I told her I loved her and how happy she made me. I told her how I envisioned us spending the rest of our lives together and how wonderful that would be,” he said, sadly. “But she didn’t say anything!”
The young man’s missing words, of course, were what people in sales and in fundraising call “the ask.” If you do not ask for what you are seeking, nothing will happen.
But how do you ask? How can you create what is known as a “call for action” closing? Here are the three essential steps:
1) Write out exactly what you want to happen at the end of your message. What kind of outcome(s) or actions are you anticipating from the group or individual?
- An agreement to go ahead? Investors to come on board? A decision choosing one plan over another?
- People to show up at the polls and vote? New volunteers to step forward? Funds to be donated to your cause?
2) Next, identify which primary motivations you believe are driving the decision-makers you’re addressing and then use language and outcomes that match.
Are they bottom-line focused? If so, be sure your numbers are attractive and convincing. Do you see them as helping-oriented? Reiterate how your idea will translate into better working conditions, more opportunities for advancement, how relationships will improve, or other similar personal benefits.
Do they highly value advancing their own position or power? Describe what kind of strategic alliances and competitive advantages they can get by endorsing what you’re recommending.
Do they spend much of their time pursuing knowledge? Illustrate how your product, service, or idea will give them an opportunity to learn new things immediately and on an ongoing basis.
Do they throw themselves into certain causes with gusto? Provide parallels to the rewards they receive by working for the causes they support.
3) Practice your Call for Action aloud in a confident tone of voice, eliminating awkward words or phrases. Remember, what works on paper does not always sound natural or conversational when you say it aloud.
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