How to ask for things?
October 12, 2011 2:42 PM   Subscribe

Ask culture vs. Guess culture: What is the most tactful ways to ask for a favor from a vendor?

I work an industry where there are a lot of vendors that offer a lot of perks to their clients - if you ask for them.

I am more of a "guesser" than an "asker", so I'm trying to word an email to one of our vendors that could potentially provide me with tickets to an event. I don't work as closely with the vendors as other people in the office do (the people who ultimately choose the vendors), but I do have some contact with them.

I'm trying to figure out a respectful way of asking other than just "Do you guys have tickets to X event?" which makes me feel like I'm some sort of ticket-grubbing moocher. Is there a more tactful way to ask for things like this, especially in a business-setting-tickets-hookup sort of deal?
posted by windbox to Human Relations (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Try this,

if its sports talk about the team and how its doing.

If it is a band--I love this band, etc.

Don't be too obvious.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:47 PM on October 12, 2011

Can you ask one of your office-mates that know the vendor better than you to ask for you?
posted by oddman at 2:53 PM on October 12, 2011

Talk to your co-workers to see if any have gotten tickets from the vendors, and how they did it. If vendors are like promoters I'm familiar with, they have tickets to give to any who ask, none of this dancing around the topic. Then again, promoters will generally announce that they have tickets to comp. If they don't have tickets, such is life. If they do, they're not making or losing money by passing them along (again, speaking from my experience with promoters - vendors might buy tickets to curry favor with clients, so they would be losing money by handing out tickets to anyone who asks).
posted by filthy light thief at 3:11 PM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

Hate to say it, but Ironmouth's advice is pure guess culture. Be courteous, but be obvious.

"In the past I've sometimes managed to get (offer/product) by reaching out to vendors. Are you the person at [company name] I should be speaking to about this? If not, would you mind forwarding my request?"
posted by hermitosis at 3:50 PM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

You, to vendor, preferably on the phone or face to face rather than in an email and triple bonus points if this is at the tag end of a conversation that's about the product the vendor is vending to your company: "Hey, if you run across any extra tickets to the XYZ event, let me know, I'm a huge fan/would love to go/didn't get to the boxoffice before they sold out." Then drop it.

Yes, it's ask as all get-out but it gives the vendor an easy out if they can't accommodate you. I'm a deeply entrenched guesser and I can manage the above script, you can too.
posted by jamaro at 4:21 PM on October 12, 2011 [4 favorites]

I would be circumspect in email in case your employer would have issues receiving what might be perceived as a kickback.
posted by bq at 4:51 PM on October 12, 2011 [2 favorites]

In your question you mention that the perks are there for those who ask for them. This tells me that 1) the vendors are expecting to be asked, 2) your own job doesn't mind you asking and receiving perks, and 3) it won't somehow sour your relationship with your vendors if you ask.

If you are not 100% sure of all three of these conditions, then don't follow my advice! Get the answers to those questions first, or you could get in big trouble.

This is about "you not being able to ask," not about "how to ask" per se. You know that you have to ask, it's just a matter of getting familiar with the process.

So my advice is to enlist an understanding friend, and ask them to play the role of the vendor. You call up and just ask them. It can be surprisingly hard to just ask! The first few times you will probably mumble or stammer.

I like jamaro's formulation. Practice it at home alone, then call your friend a few times. Soon you will be able to dash it off like it's a perfectly natural thing, which it is to many people.
posted by ErikaB at 5:15 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hermotosis has it.

Affirm that what you're asking for is standard, confirm that you are requesting from the right person, assume that what you are asking for is normal.

But please, please check in with your coworkers to see if someone else is asking, and please respect the relationship they may already have with the vendor. Speaking from the vendor point of view, if more than one person from an office asks for a perk, it makes the entire office seem non-cohesive and uncommunicative, and it says a lot about you as a client.
posted by juniperesque at 7:12 PM on October 12, 2011 [1 favorite]

When i worked on Wall Street, the SOP was to say, "Can you please see if there are any tickets available for the Yankee-Red Sox game this Thursday night?".

I have also asked for access to a source. "Do you have the contact information for the ticket broker your firm uses? My broker came up dry." as this was truly personal and for me and a friend to go to a Dead concert, I wanted to pay, but did not know who to ask. Long story short, I gave the broker my cc but he was instructed to bill the firm/vendor.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:22 AM on October 13, 2011

This may or may not be relevant, but do be sure that your employer/organization doesn't have an ethics policy that prohibits employees from receiving gifts from vendors.
posted by Lexica at 2:17 PM on October 13, 2011

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