If you are like most project managers, when it comes down to it, you are downright scared of being direct and to the point when it comes to telling people in no uncertain terms, "Here's what I want!" Think about it. There's a conspiracy that encourages people to bury their most important wants and desires.
People hem and haw and are even afraid to ask you what they want to ask you the most. They feel vulnerable about being honest and up-front. It petrifies even the best of us! Indeed, to avoid being direct and straight forward, many project management trainers advocate using consultative questions to draw people out. Yet when it comes to being successful in project management, what wins the day is being frank, open, and clearly asking people to give you what you want.
John Baker, a veteran Fortune 25 management and leadership consultant and author of his new book: The Asking Formula - Ask for What You Want and Get It, says the world would be a better place if marketers were totally up front and said "I'm selling windows today; are you buying?"
Baker spent several years studying the fear and trepidation people demonstrate in situations across the whole spectrum of human interactions. He concluded that most people do not know the best way to get what they want. He then documented the simplest tactics and strategies that he observed in those people who were getting exactly what they were after. His discovery was absolutely earthshattering in simplicity.
Very simply, the most successful people ask for what they want and then give the three very best reasons that demonstrate why it makes perfect sense for you to say "yes".
Here's an example
A project manager has worked for months with his target client, created project plans, addressed scheduling and pricing issues, developed an integration plan, customization plans, a robust training plan, etc. After all of the time, effort and energy, he knows that he has overcome the financial, technological, and even the human issues, with flying colors. What he doesn't know is whether the client is now ready to commit to the deal. It always seems to be something that will happen at the next meeting.
Even experienced project managers, young and old are often stumped over asking someone for a clean and final decision. They stumble and bumble their way through touchy feely talk about their hobbies, the weather, their pets, and family or weekend plans, anything but what they are really after.
Oh sure, all sorts of experts tell you that it's important to build a relationship, or you have to draw out the prospect, or listen for buying clues, and any number of other items, but the crucial, bottom line issue is that they never get around to asking the big question.
Yet the quickest and best way to ask for the answer to your need is to go right up to the client and say:
"We're out of time. What do we need to do to get a clear decision? Would you please let me know specifically? I need to know what you want me to do to move things forward. You've seen how everything works, how well integrated it will be, that it's going to make a real difference. Could you tell me for sure by noon today?"