No More Volunteer Solicitation
Here’s a simple question: Would Apple or Microsoft or IBM (or your own favorite company) ask ‘volunteers’ to do their ‘sales??’ Just the idea of the word ‘solicitation’ (the implication of which I cannot go into in a PG-13 document), should be enough to make you give up on this 1950’s ‘Peer-To-Peer Solicitation’ model! In this old model, a typical ‘ask’ by a peer (to a peer) goes, “I have your (3 x 5) card. Can you give something? Just send it in.” WOW! Clear. Concise. Compelling. NOT!
A PROFESSIONAL PRESENTATION involves PROFESSIONAL STAFF engaged in CONVERSATION and DIALOGUE with a goal of MAXIMIZING THE RELATIONSHIP! It’s a PROFESSIONAL PERFORMANCE with PROFESSIONAL FOLLOW-UP.
This is not about ‘Bash the Volunteer.’ Rather, it’s an attempt to help you re-think and re-invent the role of your VOLUNTEER LEADERS. Volunteer Leaders, Board Members and Current Investors are all a huge part of the TEAM SELLING process. Great volunteer leaders and great board members are literally worth their weight in gold. They should be used before, on and after the VISIT, but they should never be used ALONE!
Here are 7 pretty solid reasons why volunteers should NOT make SOLO SOLICITATIONS:
- DESIRE, ENTHUSIASM, PERSISTENCE. How many of your volunteers really, really, really like to ask a friend for money? If presented as such, these volunteers lack key ingredients for sales success: ENTHUSIASM and PERSISTENCE. It is professional staff’s mission and responsibility to Present The Opportunity to Qualified Prospects.
- TRADING DOLLARS. Every volunteer knows that whenever they ask one of their friends/peers for money… they will soon be asked back for that prospect’s favorite cause. This system of ‘trading dollars’ certainly does not allow for aggressively MAXIMIZING RELATIONSHIPS. Professional staff are objective, fair and committed to helping their prospective investor feel great about their commitment.
- TIME. Volunteers basically have none. Their other business priorities and family obligations make it very difficult to fulfill ‘volunteer’ duties. Professional staff, on the other hand, are focused and dedicated to Presenting The Opportunity to as many Qualified Prospects AS POSSIBLE.
- ACCOUNTABILITY & FOLLOW-UP. With a volunteer’ there isn’t any. “I saw so and so at a party, and I think they might do something.” Even if they make a visit or accompany on a visit, they will not think about following up and assuring their commitment. Professional staff do a memo for the record on every visit. They send a great follow-up letter summarizing the visit and the opportunity. They make a phone call on a specific date to determine the level of commitment and finalize the details with the investor.
- TRAINING. Most volunteers have not been ‘trained’ in how to make this kind of presentation. They may not understand ‘sales’, the sales process, presentation flow and framework. Even for our most incredible champions, very few have the time to become properly knowledgeable about the institution/organization and the investment opportunities available. Professional staff should be well trained. They know as much as they need to know about the organization. They are involved in ongoing professional and personal development. They understand that success is a combination of ATTITUDE and SKILL.
- PREPARATION. Even with the best of volunteers, asking for directions on the way out the door is their idea of preparing for the visit. Professional staff go over the Strategy Checklist, the Presentation Checklist, and have researched and know the basic information for every visit.
- THE VISIT ITSELF. Most volunteers begin with “How’s your family?” or “How’s your golf game?”, then move to “I got your 3×5 card.” “They want money.” “Do what you can.” When faced with a question, a challenge, or an objection, most volunteers retreat immediately. Great development and For Impact professionals know the Framework and Flow of the visit. They know how to ask questions and listen. They respond to investors’ feelings and react with creativity and flexibility. They deal with challenges and view “The Ask” as a dialogue.