Image of person holding a pair of brass balls

Need Money? You Must Have The Brass To Ask!

Image of person holding a pair of brass balls

If you need more customers or money for your business, the answer is easy – you must ask for it.

As simple as it sounds, many entrepreneurs are simply to scared to ask for the sale or the money.

I had lunch recently with a good friend and promising young entrepreneur.

He’s taken big risks, has worked for long periods with little to no pay, and is a very hard worker. I know he will be successful.

Over lunch he shared the status of his current company and expressed some frustration in the company’s struggle to sign up clients faster.

As he was talking to me about the clients, it became clear that they were the same group of companies he discussed in our last meeting.

His company hadn’t closed any deals or funding since the last time we met. As I listened, I couldn’t help but wonder if he had clearly discussed the following questions with potential clients or investors:

  • Here is our product and what it will do for you. Will you spend money on our product?
  • Here is what we do and here are the investment terms. Will you invest in our company?

I am not suggesting that you actually speak to potential customers or investors this way.

What I am saying is, sometimes you have to just belly up to the bar and ask for the sale or the money. I know this is not an easy thing to do. In fact, even after you have done it many times, it can still be hard to get those words out of your mouth.

As hard as it may be, if you plan to be a successful entrepreneur you will need to learn with confidence how to ask – so you can receive it and get the sales or capital you need to grow your business.

Tip: It is important that the “asking” happens in person. Don’t send an email or call. People say no easier when it isn’t in person. There is no shame in taking advantage of the uncomfortable nature of saying no to a persons face – use it to your advantage!

Get used to it

Get used to saying it. Practice it! After hearing yourself say the words “will you invest?” or “will you spend the money?”, the fear of asking is greatly reduced.

In the case of my friend, I think he realized that he had done everything except ask potential clients to sign the deal.

The bottom line is this – if you need money for your start-up, need clients to buy your product or need some funds for any other reason, you had better get good at flat-out asking people for money.

The worst they can say is no.

Tip: The better you get at blending your value proposition with the other parties motivations the higher your chances of receiving a YES will be. When you increase your chances of a YES, you also increase your confidence as well as your success.

At the end of the day, if you don’t get people to invest or buy, you will struggle to be a successful entrepreneur. Companies that don’t have revenue or investment don’t survive.

So, do you have the “brass” to ask? Practice in the comments, lets chat about it.

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About Alex Lawrence

Alex has been a successful entrepreneur for 20+ years. His current venture Lendio ranks #34 on the Inc. 500 list. Alex earned a BS degree at the University of Utah and his MBA at Weber State University, where he is Vice Provost and Director of the Entrepreneurship Program. If you want to talk with Alex about business and entrepreneurship (or other questions), email him (alex AT startupflavor DOT com), or you can find him on Twitter @_AlexLawrence.
  • Good point about making sure to ask for investments/sales IN PERSON.

    It’s like asking a girl out on a date. If you’re not man enough to look her in the eye and say the right words then you don’t deserve her. None of this hiding behind text messages, emails, social networking, and cell phones…

    You need the resolve to do the difficult things to be an entrepreneur. That’s why so few are actually successful.

    • Alex Lawrence

      John – exactly. In person is almost always better. Being an entrepreneur IS difficult – just different shades of difficult, but it never goes away.

  • Devin Day

    Your tips are great. It’s definitely not an easy thing to ask for the sale or the money needed. I am much better at asking for the sale than money. When I get a no for an answer from a client I take it as a “not yet” If the value proposition is good they will come on board.

    Another cool tip I use to drive sales is if the client has seen and knows the value proposition is good, but doesn’t sign the deal, I diplomatically (diplomatic is key) let them know that competitor x or y would also benefit greatly from this opportunity.

    This usually motivates (if done correctly) a client really well. The thought of their competition getting the upper hand is an excellent motivator.

    • Alex Lawrence

      Thanks Devin. Glad the tips are helpful to you, that is the goal 🙂 Interesting strategy on competition. I’ll remember that one. Anyone else tried that?

  • A few years ago I got tired of beating around the bush with potential clients, so I started asking for the money as the first question. Well, almost. Our problem was that we had too many potential clients to whom we would submit proposals, go through this long pitch process, and then at the end we would find out that their budget wasn’t anywhere close to enough for what we were proposing. In short–there was no chance they were going to become clients.

    Now, during the first conversation I almost always ask “What’s your budget for this?” If they don’t want to answer that question, I tell them “Our minimum is $2,000 per month, is that within your budget?” But unless I already know the answer, I always qualify the potential customer this way so that I don’t waste time on potential clients who actually have no potential for us.

    Then, when it comes time to close the deal, I already have some confidence built up. I know they’re open to the numbers I’m proposing, because we’ve already gone through that. I know they’re not going to be surprised by anything I propose. I know they have the money, it’s just a matter of whether they want to spend it with us or someone else.

    • That’s a pretty good system. Do you find that it has any negative side effects, though?

      • I may have had one or two people out of 100 get openly offended at me being that blunt, and perhaps there were a few others who were turned off by that approach but didn’t let me know, but other than that I’m not aware of any negative side effects, and those I am aware of are greatly outweighed by the positives.

    • Alex Lawrence

      Josh and John:

      This is indeed a great way to conduct your business IMO Josh. Well done man. It’s clear it is working for you, particularly since I know from where you once were at. NICE!

  • The thought of getting rejected is common in almost every aspect of life. The difference between successful people and the rest of the world is fear, or the lack of it, of rejection. No one likes to be rejected.

    But here’s how I look at it: every no is one step closer to a yes. That yes may come from someone else, or even from the very same person who rejected you in the first place.

    • Alex Lawrence

      Aaron – good point. Rejection is everywhere, not just in business.

    • Garrett K

      This reminds me of the book ‘Go for No’, which I’ve been hearing a LOT about. Where a person begins to basically thrive on getting no, because, just like what you said, each no is just 1 step closer to a ‘yes’. And even a ‘no’ is rarely an actual ‘no’. It’s usually, “I don’t know enough” or “It’s not the right time” 🙂

      And as Jim Rohn said, “Usually only 1 in 10 will join. That means to get 10 people in, you need to talk to 100 people”. Gotta get those ‘no’s’ to get the yes!

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