Asking for things can be tricky, and often downright difficult.

Some people struggle to ask for help. Others have a hard time expressing exactly what they desire or simply don't ask and try to do everything themselves.

If you're running a business or trying to get one off the ground, asking others to buy your product can be exceptionally hard. But the truth is, your business won't survive if you can't do this.

In order to make the right business offer at the right time, it's important to understand your target customer's buying process--the journey a customer goes through before they decide to buy (or not buy) from you.

Knowing your customer journey will make "the ask" a lot easier, but there is more to it than that. The biggest hurdle is the first one: being comfortable asking someone for their money. Here are four key things to remember when asking for business.

Get over nervousness

Many people simply don't get around to making the offer. They wait and wait, which is a huge shortcoming for small businesses--many are too afraid to offend.

The thing to remember is you're not going to offend people if you nail the target market and your prospects are feeling some sort of pain right now. If you've groomed them through the lead gen process and provided them the content they've asked for, do yourself a favor and go for it. There's nothing to lose.

Ask and then ask again

A while back at dinnertime we got a call from a telemarketer and my daughter answered the phone. He was selling windshield repair and I promptly hung up on him. It was the classic annoying case we're all familiar with where the telemarketer interrupts dinner because they figure you're home.

Then a funny thing happened. Two weeks later the guy called again, and a few days prior my wife got a crack in her windshield. Suddenly I was the target customer and I was in need of this company's service.

My point here is not to condone spamming or constant cold-calling, but to point out that customer circumstances change often. If a lead tells you "no" once, don't assume their circumstances won't change over time. Keep giving them chances to say yes.

Be bold and compelling

Most of us have been through the scenario before where the salesperson--whether it's a server at a restaurant or a software vendor--isn't fully sold on their product but is trying to sell you anyway. You can tell their heart isn't into it, so it makes your decision on whether to buy a whole lot easier.

That's why it's so important when asking for business to be bold and compelling with your pitch. You have to believe in the product or service, because if you don't, they won't either. The key is confidence, and regardless of what you're selling, if you do it confidently, you'll have better luck.

Map out the process

When asking for business from a prospect, always observe their past actions and create a buying process map. That is, learn from the past to predict and prepare for what's to come from future prospects. You'll find predictable patterns, so keep your eyes open and take note.

If you have a sales team (or if you are the entire sales team, this especially applies to you) you'll want to optimize your resources so you spend your limited time with qualified consumers. Lead scoring is tracking your prospects' behaviors and activities, so you can determine their varying levels of interest in your products or services. What this means is, you'll want to create a series of indicators that qualifies a prospect, which could be: engaging in a specific number of online content pieces, having an introductory call, engaging on your social channels, etc. It's a great tactic to use that will help ensure you spend your limited time on the people who are most likely to convert. This is something you can do on your own, or to make it even easier, you can automate the lead scoring process with software like Infusionsoft.

Everyone can get nervous when the time comes to ask for something big, whether it's for someone's hand in marriage or a million-dollar contract with your company. But no matter the circumstances, making that big request gets a whole lot easier when you are prepared, confident and bold.

Published on: Apr 21, 2016