Ask For The Order

Words of wisdom from Steve Kane (actually Steve’s dad):

btw, the best advice my old man gave, and the advice he drilled most emphatically and repeatedly was, ASK FOR THE ORDER. you’d be amzed how many people talk to customers forever and never actually say ask for the order…

I saw Steve’s comment right after I read a long email from an entrepreneur (way too long, emails should be no more than three paragraphs) that went on and on about his business but never once asked us to consider an investment.

Ask for the order.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. awilensky

    Fred:Can I have a job doing contract analysis and sector due diligence for your VC fund?Alan

    1. fredwilson

      We don’t do that stuffFred

      1. Philippe Bradley

        really? how comes you don’t do sector DD?

    2. awilensky

      Didnt work out !

      1. Nathaniel

        He didn’t promise he’d say yes! 😉

  2. khylek

    I’m now in sales, after being on the technology side for years and years. It sounds silly, but I still need to remind myself to do exactly that.

  3. gregory

    i used to be the same about dates, would like the woman, but would never ask her out… which is why i went to the chinese orchestra at the esplanade in singapore tonight by myself…. oh well …. it was great, by the way

  4. Alberto Escarlate

    lesson of the day: if you’re an entrepreneur and want to pitch your business to Fred Wilson do it under 140 characters.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s not really trueI appreciate an email with details and it takes more than 140 chars to do thatBut brevity is critical. I think every entrepreneur should figure out how to communicate what they are doing in three paragraphs or lessAnd please ask for the order!

      1. tweetip

        Is it any wonder you crash Outlook? :))

  5. scott crawford

    Back when I was daily toiling in the world of ads and such, my fondest hope was to recreate the purity of the one-to-one selling experience that occurs with no more than a screen door separating need from solution. The art of conversation in door-to-door salesmanship is something all in marketing could benefit from studying. Have a good weekend, all.

  6. Ranjit Mathoda

    President Johnson tells a story about how when he was running for Congress he encountered an old lady and had a great conversation with her for about an hour. After being elected he happened to encounter her again and thanked her for her vote. She said, but I never voted for you, I voted for the other guy. President Johnson was flabbergasted, and asked her after the nice conversation they had had why she hadn’t supported him. And she said, “You never asked me for my vote.”

  7. awilensky

    I just couldn’t resist. I was half joking. I occasionally work on short term background research for institutional investors, but that work is being displaced by contract PM work that is closer to near term execution.The days of the hired pundit are over in the B2B application space, and is being overtaken by a more pragmatic “product prostate exam” methodology.

  8. daryn

    I know at least a few entrepreneurs who think that ‘asking for the order’ is a sign of desperation.I mean, their product is so phenomenally great that if you just hear about it, you’re going to be begging to invest anyway right? 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      Its true that not needing the money is a sign of strength but you can always say ‘we have other options but we’d very much like you to invest in our company’That works pretty wellFred

  9. Rob Long

    I remember my first VC pitch, which I conducted just like I pitch stuff in Hollywood. You make a compelling case, you tell a story, you sell. And then, when I wrapped up, there was a pause.”Why are you here?”I forgot to add the “I’m trying to raise $750,000” part.

  10. howardlindzon

    always be closing…we all know that. alec baldwin baby!!!!!BTW fred …Can I have MILLION DOLLARS please. idea to follow.The ugandan spammers always ask for the money order. we could all learn something from them

  11. BP

    Not only should you ask for the order but like Mike says shut up if the answer is yes.If the answer is no then ask what it would take to get a yes.And then have a short, believable answer for every conceivable reason that someone could say no. In sales if you do this and you target your customer base correctly you can not lose.Successful salesmen are confident. They build confidence by knowing they have an answer for every doubt. If the customer still delays they figure they’ll either get em the next time or the customer is just being irrational. There is no sales technique that I know of that can overcome abject stupidity on the part of an irrational customer.This advise is predicated on fact that the person you are selling to wants or could benefit from your product or service.

  12. isfan

    I feel special since I think this post is aimed at me :(. Expect something from me very soon … and it will clearly contain “the ask” as one of my advisers calls it.

  13. burtm10

    Entertaining and true.I spent some time as a door to door insurance salesman. Cold calling is about as tough as you can get. I even made some sales but would often find that I enjoyed the chat more than the selling. Clearly not my calling.I am now doing an intenship on internet marketing. Don’t have to ask for the order just yet but no doubt that will come.Trick seems to be the ask for the order 1 more time than they can say ‘No’. It is just as relevant for your landing and sales pages.Regards

  14. zowoco

    Yes, ask for the order and DEMAND your price, expecting to get both. A confident attitude always wins through. It’s called boldness in the bible!

  15. zowoco

    Yes, ask for the order and demand your price expecting to receive both. A confident attitude always wins through. It’s called boldness in the bible! And of course, the principle is, ask and you shall receive. All good. 🙂

  16. jackson

    ‘Ask for the business’ is a maxim of sales. I’ve herad it hundereds of times in sales meetings. I always thought it was common sense. I mean, why else are you there?

  17. wayne lambright

    Another way to say it.”Always ask for the business, don’t worry about your technique or style” ~ Byrd BaggetThis is my favorite motivator in sales.80% of all sales happen on the fifth call, 80% of all salespeople quite on the first call. ~ Anonymous

  18. Michael Diamant

    An oft said motto: “You don’t ask, you don’t get.” And yes, once they say they’re buying, SHUT UP, thank them, and move on to something new.

  19. tweetip

    Wayyyy down here, we’re still wondering about “Ask for the order”…Listening to twitter recently, we heard Fred offer a young man some help in interviewing for a job. This person didn’t “ask for help”, he just tweeted that he was moving to NY. Fred follows him, feels something kindred – and in near realtime acted on this kindred sense.You know the sense, like how we feel with music? It’s just right!What if our World Model acted on kindred sense, instead of push advertising? Could this be the ultimate contribution of social software?If we need to change the trajectory of humanity, we need to rapidly change our tools AND the way we form the foundation of our economic/synergistic engine.

    1. fredwilson

      Well to be clear, I know him and he interviewed for our analyst position, which he did not getBut I like him a lot and want to help him out when he moves to NYCfred

  20. tom

    The entrepreneur was writing a book