How To Ask For What You Want In Business – And Get It

I’ve had to get comfortable and learn how to ask for what I want – because it's rarely given. This is how you earn a seat at the...

As an entrepreneur, business builder and corporate ladder climber, I’ve had to get comfortable and learn how to ask for what I want – because it’s rarely given.

The tough part is, as humans, we are typically uncomfortable not only asking for what we want, but also how we do it. If I had a dollar for every time I have been called aggressive, crazy, intense (or worse), I would have a lot of dollars.


Ask for what you want

My personal motto consists of two ideas:


  • Always ask for what you want – always

    Hands down, you will never get what you don’t ask for. This is especially true for women and minorities. Research proves that we don’t negotiate enough. If we look at compensation alone, it’s clear. In Linda Babcock’s book, Women Don’t Ask, she found that about 7% of female MBAs attempted to negotiate, compared to 57% of men from the same program.

  • Assume you might get it

    When you remove the fear from your ask, you are more thoughtful. You consider how to make it a win-win, and you become less emotional.


Earn your seat at the table

So, let’s discuss practical strategies that will earn your seat at the table.


1. Practice your pitch

Nothing beats practice. Start small. A perfect example is my most recent trip to Belize: Every time I checked into a hotel, bought an excursion or paid for just about anything, I asked for a discount. What happened? Every single hotel (four over two weeks) upgraded us and gave us anywhere from a 10% to a 30% discount.


2. Don’t commit to an outcome

Come with options, not outcomes. Get creative with your asks.


3. Know why you deserve it

When you say, “I want my clients to pay me more money,” you stop short. This rubs me (and many people) the wrong way. Back up your asks with facts and numbers.


4. Put yourself in their shoes

What are their goals? How can you align your goals with theirs? Put yourself on the other side of the table.

When I negotiated time off to earn an MBA, for example, my first job (fresh out of school) paid for it. I started my small ask first and aligned our goals.


Photo: © Boggy, YFS Magazine

I said, “I’m committed to a long career here and I need to better my skills in international business for us to really succeed, so I want to go back to school while working. If I can find a way to do that won’t interfere with getting my job done, and I promise to beat out my goals every single quarter or I’ll quit school, would you be open to it?” My boss, at the time, said yes.

Once I was accepted, I said, “If I can get Georgetown to cover X percentage of the cost and beat sales goals by X, would you sponsor me for the rest of my schooling?” He said yes. I planned to offer a longer contract with the firm as well to sweeten the deal, but I held back. He said “yes” to all of my asks.


5. Don’t underestimate the power of likeability

When you make your “opponent” like you, likeability is worth its weight in gold. Smile, cajole, and appeal to their better instincts. My go-to line is, “You can’t blame a girl for asking, can you?”


6. Play hard to get

The one who wants it less wins. So even if you want a new client so badly you would sell your first born, pretend you don’t. Reframe your mindset. They must negotiate to get the best deal and you must negotiate the best deal for you. In my experience, when you play hard to get, it increases your perceived value, and makes them want you more.

Remember these tips and you just might always get what you want.


This article has been edited.

Codie Sanchez is an International Investment Head, speaker, writer, entrepreneur and investor – head of LatAm Investments for First Trust, CEO & Founder CSB LLC.


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