Monday Challenge: Ask for help

Every Monday I throw out a challenge to put readers into a position of growth, which can sometimes be uncomfortable at first. 

This week: Ask for help.

We are not wired instinctively to ask for help. Some people, by virtue of whom they work for, are downright terrified to ask for help, thinking it will be interpreted as a sign of weakness. Others are hesitant to ask their customers or employees for help, thinking it may sound desperate (and it will, if it’s pitched the wrong way).

Asking for help in a healthy and productive way involves some key dynamics. Asking for help must:

  1. Result in a clear benefit for both parties involved.
  2. Show a goal of moving forward, not backward.
  3. Be used as a method of clarification and transparency.

Let’s break these down.

Result in a clear benefit for both parties involved. If I’m a wine sales rep, I may ask for help from a sales manager involving one account. Maybe it’s an account that you see great potential in for the next year, and you want to get the ‘big guns’ involved in the relationship. A clear win-win for everybody involved. The key is to establish clear goals for that one account and work with your manager in achieving them.

“We want to do more there” is not a goal, it’s an idea. A vague one at that.

Show a goal of moving forward, not backward. If you’re asking for help from your customers, the help you’re asking for has to be attached to a larger goal that brings business to a point of success. Example: metrics are showing that the $10-15 bottle range is outperforming all others on growth, but you have an account stuck on under $8 wines. By organizing all of your products that fit the higher price point, combined with printing off and going through the data on growth in the $10-15 category, combined with a simple statement “I’m asking for your help in building this part of my sales, and it will move your business forward into a more profitable position,” then you are laying the groundwork well.

It’s far more effective than just pouring yet another wine in the $10-15 range and asking “Whatcha think ’bout that?”

Asking for help should be used as a method of clarification and transparency. This is especially effective for supervisors looking for more information from their sales reps on thought processes and goals. I’m a big believer in efficient communication, and this is one of the shortest paths to deepest answers. “I need help in understanding your goals for that account. Let’s meet next week, talk about that one account, and bring me your goals and roadblocks that you are encountering in achieving them.”

That offer of help is encouraging, embracing, and trustworthy.

Compare that to a sales manager that simply barks “You tell me why we’re down in that account!!!”

Who would you rather work for? Asking for help should be a powerful positive, and a tool all of us reach for more often.

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