Eliciting response

My entire profession revolves around one goal: eliciting a response from people. If I do it correctly, and that’s what I’m paid to do, the response I receive is the one I wanted – whether it’s the public responding to an advertising message or a news article, or two of my contacts responding well to meeting one another and discovering how they can create a new and fruitful professional relationship together.

Any way you have it, my job requires me to be an expert in ensuring people, many times perfect strangers, answer my calls or make time to meet with me so I can get my message across on behalf of my clients. And you know, after 10 years, I do pretty well at it. Or, at least other people think I do, which is why I’m writing this blog. (Really, someone asked me to write this blog.)

There’s no “trade secret” to how I get things done, but there are a few rules I employ each and every day when it comes to doing business. Perhaps these tips will help you as well.

First, answer the “what’s in it for them” question before you contact a person you plan to ask a favor or make a request from. Nearly everyone you know, or don’t know, will respond more favorably to your requests if you start by telling them why they should care about your needs. It doesn’t need to be a hard sell – just a note to start your conversation.

Second, be clear and brief when making your request. This one’s important to me. Let’s talk e-mail first. Whatever the matter is, make it a self imposed rule that you do not make others dig through 5-6 “pages” of e-mails to figure out what it is you’re asking them for. Why? Recipients don’t enjoy reading them and, to be perfectly blunt, they often figure that if you, the sender, are too “lazy” to craft a brief message that gets right to the point that it’s also highly likely you won’t respect their time responding to your request. Essentially, don’t be a pain in the you-know-what if you’re asking someone else to give you a helping hand.

My No. 1 pet peeve is professionals who send “see below” e-mails asking me to sift through 20 back-and-forth e-mail conversations just to learn a simple fact that could have been stated quickly to get things moving ahead.

Now, imagine the recipient’s reaction when he/she is faced with having to sort through loads of e-mails to respond to a simple request … or a favor? (Not good.) This is a small (yet very large) issue many professionals can improve upon in order to elicit more favorable and quicker responses and, as a result, improve their results. Additionally, many professionals read e-mails from their smart phones, which often do not easily display long e-mails. This means an even longer wait time on your end if you’re seeking a response from a contact.

Part two: phone calls. No matter how passionate you are about your own needs and how much of a priority they are to you, do not leave convoluted voice messages that last more than 30 seconds or earmark them as a “high priority” or an “emergency” unless they are. (Same goes for e-mails.) Be concise, state your case, always leave your name, the time and date you called and repeat your phone number – slowly – two times at the end of the message. Respect their time by leaving a short message and don’t give your contacts an excuse for not responding to your call.

Third, say “please,” “thank you” and while you do it, briefly remind people again why they are responding to your need. These little words work like magic. Also, reminding people about how and why they’re responding to you maintains focus on your specific needs and shows them that action and results are being accomplished, thereby eliciting a stronger response and helping you to develop a better working relationship with new contacts.

These are a few basic, easy-to-use tactics that have aided me in moving efforts along in a quick and straightforward manner over the years. I hope you find these few tips to be as helpful as I have.

I invite you to share your own tips with us.

Amber Stidham is the director of strategic planning at Imagine Marketing.
Contact Amber at

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