The Power of Asking

3d characters welcoming at doorDo you dislike asking for stuff? Do you get all wigged out and feel it’s self-serving to ask for something you need or to a lesser extent, want? Would you rather receive that thing you want without asking? You are not alone.

Working with clients every day provides several opportunities to ask for something. With a new client it might be billing, contact and delivery preferences. It could also be a request for a mailing address, a copy of the finished piece; and a testimonial.

Getting a mailing address is simple and should be one of the primary pieces of information you request from your new client.

The request for a copy of the completed production should be made in the agreement you have between yourself and the client. (You do have a written agreement, right?)

Asking for a testimonial is probably the most uncomfortable request to make at first. Perhaps typical thinking is that when a client likes what they receive, a testimonial will follow, unsolicited, right? That seldom happens. It’s similar to when I read a blog that I like. If I have time and feel UN-rushed, I’ll leave a comment. When time is not a luxury, I tell myself that I’ll go back later and leave a comment. As with automatic, unsolicited testimonials, that seldom happens.

Here are three examples that will help you get the information you need, the copy of the finished product you want and the praise you’d love to receive.

Client Information

When I’m in the client setup phase, I send an e-mail that details what I need for the project confirmation I’ll be sending for review and approval. I write the info request in such a way that one thing needs to be satisfied before another step can be completed. (Give me the information I need and I’ll write a project confirmation that will lock in the session time.) The words I use are along these lines:

I’ll write a project confirmation that outlines the process, billing, delivery and associated followup processes. All I need are a few pieces of information from you. Once I receive the info, I’ll send the Project Confirmation for your review and approval and lock in your session time.

Then I add what information I need.

Final Production Copy

Asking for a copy of the produced video, spot, narration or whatever, should be straight forward. Most producers understand the importance of receiving a copy of the finished production. A collection of these will probably be great building blocks for your next demo. I call this out in my Project Confirmation and then remind them one-week after delivery of my voiceover.

Thanks again, for hiring me to do the <name of project> voice-over. I would like to consider using the work I’ve done for you on an upcoming demo reel. Would it be possible to get a digital copy of the finished video? A link to a file that I can download might be the easiest. If you prefer, feel free to send me a CD or DVD copy.

If you choose to send a copy, my mailing address is:

<Your physical mailing address here>

I really appreciate you taking time for me and I look forward to receiving a copy.

If you don’t hear back from them after a week, you may have to reach out to them again. Be persistent and if it’s a piece of work that you know is amazing and clearly needs to be part of your next demo, call your client with your request. There is a fine line between being persistent and annoying and that is something you’ll need to be sensitive about.

Words of Praise

Asking for a testimonial from a client may feel a bit weird. Don’t let it bug you. When you get along well with a client and the project came together nicely, you owe it to yourself to get validation. I know it sounds very self-serving and that’s because it is. Testimonials are useful to share with prospective clients, post on your website, and even use in your signature. They are valuable.

Could you help me out with a small favor? I’m in the process of collecting material for my next website update and I wanted to ask if you would consider writing a testimonial for me.

It can be as short as a sentence or a whole paragraph about your opinion of working with me or what I’ve created for your client. What would be especially helpful is to mention the benefits of working with me. But really, anything at all you’d like to say. I would love to be able to put a quote from you on my website.

If you’d like to see some great examples of what other clients have written, check out the testimonial section on my website at <your website>.

To keep the process simple, you can type your testimonial into the body of an e-mail and send it my way. Then, I’ll copy and paste it into a document and send to my web designer when the time comes.

Thanks so much, and please let me know if there’s any way I can return a similar favor.

Send this one as soon after delivery of your voiceover as possible. Clients will be the happiest about your work right after delivery, that’s why I suggest not waiting any longer than a few days. When you’re met with silence, contact them again.

These tips should come in handy the next time you’re anxious about asking for something. I hope they work for you.

Are there questions you feel uncomfortable asking your clients? Do have any situations where you asked and the response was negative?

Other posts you might find interesting:

Five Tips for Better Client/Talent Workflow
JewelBeat: A New Royalty Free Music Source
Five Ways to be Remembered by Your Clients

15 thoughts on “The Power of Asking

  1. John Florian August 13, 2013 / 4:25 am

    Hi Chris,

    What a writer! And right on target, as always, with this blog post. May I reprint it soon on VoiceOverXtra?

    Thanks for considering – hope you biz is booming.

    John

    Like

    • J. Christopher Dunn August 13, 2013 / 11:31 am

      Hey John,

      Feel free to reprint this on VoiceOverXtra. I’m honored!

      Look for a follow-up in your inbox with text and graphic.

      Chris

      Like

  2. howard ellison August 16, 2013 / 1:18 pm

    That’s very helpful, Chris. I thought I was uniquely British in my reluctance to invite testimony (and I shall always prefer the spontaneous variety!) but you are right: it is about being honest; of course we want and need praise – everyone does.
    Case in point: I narrate DVDs for a history client. Belatedly, I asked if my name could be put on the covers. Sure, from now on, came the reply. They simply hadn’t thought about it.

    Like

    • J. Christopher Dunn August 16, 2013 / 5:56 pm

      Hey Howard – Thanks for reading the post and leaving a comment. I like your example and it clearly illustrates what I wrote about. Too many opportunities are left undiscovered when folks are reluctant to ask.

      Like

  3. lisaricevoice August 19, 2013 / 9:16 am

    Great post with practical ideas. Thank you for taking the time to write it, Chris.

    Like

    • J. Christopher Dunn August 20, 2013 / 11:09 am

      Hi Lisa- Sometimes what is the most obvious thing to do is overlooked because it’s too obvious or “common sense.”

      Thank you for taking time to read my blog!

      Like

  4. Amy Weis August 27, 2013 / 4:51 am

    I also read great blogs and think to myself that I’ll comment when I have more time—so you inspired me to comment RIGHT NOW…and thank you!
    When I was in radio sales, our manger often said, “Ask and you’ll get; don’t and you won’t!”. Great advice; and I’ve found that people (well, most of them) are really helpful…you just gotta ask!

    Like

    • J. Christopher Dunn August 27, 2013 / 11:08 am

      I think asking is drilled out of us at an early age. “Are we there yet?” and “How come?” are two examples of questions kids ask that are met with an amount of negativity or unsatisfying answers. “Stop asking!!! You’ll know when we get there!” “Because, that’s why!” Get the picture?

      Anyway, for a lot of us, asking is something that needs to be relearned. Will we always get the answer we’re looking for? Probably not. But, we’ll never know if we don’t ask.

      Thank you for checking out my blog!

      Like

  5. Gillian Vance (@gillian_vance) August 30, 2013 / 6:54 am

    Very nice article. I just wanted to add that any time I’ve asked a client for a testimonial, they’ve been happy to write one. I have yet to hear “no” as an answer to that request. I like to frame it this way: If you’d be willing to write a brief testimonial for me, I’d be happy to create a link from the quote to your website. Everyone wants more site traffic, so the client wins here, too.

    Wishing you all the best.

    Like

    • J. Christopher Dunn August 30, 2013 / 10:00 am

      Hi Gillian- When a client is happy with the results, most of the time they feel compelled to write a few words of thanks and praise. I like your choice of linking the quote to their website. Nice touch!

      Like

  6. Nicola Redman February 5, 2014 / 6:01 am

    Great advice Chris. I like the idea about sending a project confirmation, so everyone knows where they are. It’s so difficult to chase people up for copies, so that was a good tip.
    Nicola
    http://www.nicolaredman.com

    Like

    • J. Christopher Dunn February 5, 2014 / 10:40 am

      Hey Nicola- Thanks! Usually, a client will let me know up front if a copy will be available or not. I give them about a week after delivery of audio and follow up to remind them. It works about 90% of the time.

      Like

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