Requests For Favors in International Business

When requesting a favor of a business person, you are usually asking for time, money or information.  For instance, you might want to interview middle managers on their use of personal computers.  Or you might ask someone for a formal introduction.  Such requests are likely to succeed when you can point out specific benefits to the person granting a favor.

Stressing Direct and Indirect Benefits

When requesting favors, Denver Translation Services explain how the person will benefit by granting your requests.  For instance, Rigzone, a trade serving the Petroleum Industry, recently asked safety managers to complete a survey about their firm’s use of their in-house safety programs.  Safety managers who completed the survey received a free gift card to  Similarly, if you’re asking someone to sponsor a speaker at an industry trade show, you might mention the benefits of the company’s name on signs, banners and advertising.

People or companies who grant requests can gain indirect benefits as well.  As Washington D.C. Translation companies suggest, the firm purchasing the name to a new professional sports center gains community goodwill, as well as free publicity.  Another form of indirect benefit results simply from helping others.   Most people feel good about themselves when, for selfless motives, they donate time and money to good causes.  Besides appealing to people’s altruism, most non-profit organizations also mention it a postscript that donations are tax deductible (a direct benefit).

Gaining Attention

Since your request will compete with other messages for your reader’s attention, begin your letter with an interesting—and relevant—assertion, fact, compliment or question.  For example, this assertion helped persuade local businesses to fill out an eight-page questionnaire: “We need your help to make Indiana University more responsive to the needs of U.S. corporations.”  The assertion worked because it is subtlety complimentary and suggests an implied benefit: If businesses help the college shape its curriculum, they will benefit by having better employees.

Significant facts also get attention.  New England Business and Communication Services asked a random sampling of production managers to keep daily records on the number of times poor listening skills had slowed production.  The company persuaded thirty-two managers to keep records by beginning its request letter with the fact: “On the average, your employees listen to only 25-percent of what you tell them.”

Compliments can gain attention, but they should be sincere and individualized.  Few managers feel complimentary when they receive obvious form letters with overstated compliments, such as: “As one of the top managers in America, we know you’ll want to assist us with a survey we’re conducting.”  In contrast, one of our colleagues was flattered by—and responded favorably to—the following request for comments on a proposed textbook: “Could we draw from your professional knowledge and experience to guide our editors?”

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