Words You Can Use

Your ability to ask for something and your likelihood of getting what you ask for sometimes depends on how you phrase your request. Here are wordings of requests others have found effective. The desirability of using any of these words depends on the situation and your relationship with the client. Also, words that flow naturally from one speaker aren’t necessarily suited to another. Some of these words have been provided in earlier postings and are consolidated here for your convenience.

Purpose: To keep a client talking
Words:     Tell me more.   Could you elaborate on that?  This is helpful.  Please go on.  Could you give me an example? How do you know that? I’m not sure I understand.  And, so?  Really?  Is that so?  What else?

Purpose: To ask for a meeting
Words: I do a lot of work in the [industry or function] area, so it’s my business to know people like you, and I’d like to meet you.

Purpose: To request introduction from satisfied client

Words: Could I ask you a personal favor?

Could I ask you a personal favor?  I know that you belong to [an association].  Could I come with you to the next meeting as your guest, so that I can meet the  people there?

Could I ask you a personal favor?  Peter Smith is your counterpart in the XYZ Division, isn’t he?  Could you introduce me?

Purpose: To be seated next to possible client at party
Words: I have wanted to get to know [name] for a long time.  Would you consider seating us near each other at dinner?

Purpose: To request intro to person mentioned by client
Words: That sounds like someone I should know.  Could you introduce me?

Purpose: To turn conversation to business

Words: I know you didn’t join me for lunch today in order to hear a sales pitch, but that’s actually something we could help you with, if you want to talk about it.  No pressure.

Is it okay for me to put my sales hat on for a minute?

Hey, are we ever going to do any business together?

Purpose: To request coaching from a secretary
Words: I want to use [your boss’s] time well, so perhaps you could give me a little advice. . .

Purpose: To start with agreement where there is little
Words: What has occurred hasn’t been good for either of our companies, and it’s in both our interests to get it fixed.

Purpose: To confirm that a client is ready to hire you
Words: So, where do we go from here?

Purpose: To request help without putting client on the spot
Words: Could I ask you for some advice?

Purpose: To ask for advice
Words: Could I ask for a little mentoring?

Do any of you readers have useful words or phrases that you could share?

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7 Responses to “Words You Can Use”

  1. Bizzie Guye Says:

    Great suggestions. Here’s one I use alot.

    When wanting to inquire about if there are any other work a client can give you…you might say…

    “While I have you on the phone…is there anything else coming down the pike that we can help you with?”

    Very unintimidating.

  2. Ford Harding Says:

    Bizzie Guye:

    That’s definitely a good one, akin to:

    “We’re doing some planning for next year and want to make sure we have the resources in place as our clients need them. Is there anything in addition to the work we are doing that you might want our help on next year?”

    Ford Harding

  3. Steve Congdon Says:

    Related: Do you guys have a hard time getting a prospective customer to tell you who you’re up against in a pitch?

    In the ad business, sometimes it helps to offer the following in earlier rounds (RFPs or credentials presentations):

    “After reading (or sitting through) multiple presentations, many agencies sound the same. All have a “special process,” right? Knowing who we’re up against can make your job easier, as we can make our differences easier to see. With this mind, who else are you looking at?”

    If you have other ways to get at the same question, I’m all ears. Or eyes, in this case!

  4. Ford Harding Says:


    I have said that knowing who the competition is a) says a lot about how the client sees the problem, and b) informs us of what aspects of our services we should be emphasizing. But I like your approach better and will try it.

    By the way, based on your comment, I think you’re going to like next Monday’s post.

    Ford Harding

  5. Bizzie Guye Says:

    I agree with Ford, Steve… your suggestion is pretty good. If you’re in a position that the client views you as an underdog (i.e. your firm is new to town, or smaller than your other local competitor) might I suggest….

    “Hey you know, I wanted to get your perspective on my competition… as a company it is our goal to try and be as competitive as possible in such a challenging market, could I as ask if our competitor on this project is bringing anything to the table that we might need to look into (on future jobs for you)?

  6. Ford Harding Says:

    Bizzie Guye:

    Your question would also be good in a post loss debrief, which opens up a whole new category of words you can use.

    Ford Harding

  7. How to turn a conversation… « Says:

    [...] Click here to read the full post and scripts.  I would recommend taking note, or sharing with your office, business development team, and managers. [...]

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