Visiting with a potential prospect is not a goal unto itself; it’s the means to an end.
What’s the end? What are your goals? It’s so important to have clearly defined goals – especially if two or more from your organization are going on the visit together. The goal determines what you say.
I just got off the phone with a coaching client. When I asked about the goal the client said, “Well, I guess our goal would be to share the message.”
Again, sharing the message is an activity – not the goal.
In her case, we established three goals for this initial visit. May help you…
Qualify the prospect. (Financial capacity and interest).
Have her help to identify the correct players in the city to get on board.
Get her help in getting to some or all of those identified in number two.
I read something a few weeks back about the wisdom and philosophy of Mike Singletary – stud linebacker for the Bears and now head coach leading the turnaround effort in San Francisco.
I can’t find the exact quote so I’m going from memory. He basically said:
I don’t put any stock into what I hear about a guy. I only go by what I see.
The article went on to talk about all the rumors that circulate in the NFL. Rumors about how a guy is in the locker room, his heart on the field, etc.
He gave some examples. [Made up quote] “If everyone says a guy is a jerk and he’s nice to me… then he’s a nice guy.”
For whatever reason this point really stuck with me. The NFL is a lot like the nonprofit world… or, I’ll bet ANY workplace. I think people misread others 70% or more of the time. It’s done me no good to take the word of others in evaluating a relationship. Too often I’m told, “He’s a really difficult board member. Very disruptive and always wants to cause a problem,” only later to SEE that he’s really the only that gives a damn and he’s just moved by passion… being objective. Or vice-versa.
I was reminded of this on a recent road trip. Had to make the conscious decision to just ignore all the intel that was piled onto me about a room of board members. To make meaning of the pre-opinions would’ve put me in an impossible situation. Turns out everyone was great 🙂
I just did a great session with a YMCA in the Northwest. Did an after-dinner ‘keynote’ to the staff and volunteers to kick-off their 2010 Annual Operating Campaign. Spent a half-day visiting with three or four Y branches and then did a half-day staff training.
One of the Cool things that came out of these sessions was reminding the Y (and all of you) the POWER OF YOUR MESSAGE.
IF… your(BLUE) IMPACT drives your (GREEN) INCOME (which it does!)
THEN… you need to be able to Communicate the MESSAGE in a
Massive ‘C’ alliteration with a guarantee from me that it will generate HUGE Commensurate Commitments!!!
CLEAR. Simple. Powerful. Visionary. Visual. (Easy to ‘see’.) On a Napkin. (Pics definitely worth 1,000 words.
Message on a Napkin worth 10,000 words.) Do a Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise in A Few Good Men. Make your message Crystal Clear
CONCISE. Again, simple. Tight. 3 Words. 6 Words Max. (Can you communicate your entire message in 6 words?)
*Einstein wrote the entire Theory of Relativity on 3 handwritten pages. Reduced it to 3 words. And then summarized it on the back of a napkin with 3 letters! Don’t tell me you can’t simplify your Message!
COMPELLING. It?s about the ‘WHY’. Your PURPOSE. Your DEFINITE CHIEF AIM, VISION, etc. Financial detail around Operating Expenses is not COMPELLING.
CONGRUENT. Message actually matches your Impact, what you do and why you do it. It?s authentic. It is what it is. Everybody is in alignment, agreement and harmony.
CERTAIN. You need to know with Certainty, within your heart and soul and every part of your brain and body, that what you are doing is right. Has purpose. Making an impact. With that Certainty comes Conviction. (Another great ‘C’ word!)
CONSISTENT. Simple test. Ask any 3 staff and any 3 volunteer leaders and any 3 people you serve to tell you WHAT you (the organization) does and WHY you (the organization) do it. Based on 30 years of testing this, I’m pretty confident you will get 18 different answers. (3 + 3 + 3 x 2)
Does your Message pass the C-6 test?
If not, Carpe Memento! Seize this moment and make this happen.
Chipotle – One product (meat in preferred wrapper with toppings) – lots of options: taco, burrito or bowl. Same toppings to choose from for every product. One line. Move. Fast.
Max & Erma’s: Infinite products AND infinite options. Choice is overwhelming.
Chipotle has one of the highest revenue per sq ft numbers per store. Max and Erma’s filed for bankruptcy this week.
This is a metaphor for simplicity.
How does this apply to funding? Your funding message should be more Chipotle less M&E. I’m working now with a youth organization that works in schools. We’ve developed one message around a ‘School Partnership’.
The School Partnership: $10K/yr for 3 years. Sponsors two schools (20 classrooms/500 students) for three years.
We have 15 employees at this org – all of whom come in contact with potential funders each day. Now, when someone says, “This is incredible, how can I help?” We don’t wait to schedule a meeting with development… anyone can communicate this message.
One message – many choices: Of course the prospect can come back and fund ONE school. Of course the prospect can chose to fund only one year. However, now we have ONE baseline ask for $30K with a ton of options.
Just saw a note from one year ago today (19 Oct 08) in my journal… from über-investor Warren Buffett:
“Be fearful when others are greedy.
Be greedy when others are fearful.”
My parallel thought goes like this:
Be ASKING when others are hiding.
Be ASKING even when others are asking.
JUST ASK. It was almost a year ago when the economy crashed and everyone in the nonprofit world panicked. I wrote NOW MORE THAN EVER, where I basically said that this too shall pass….. and then that every For Impact organization needed to stay in front of its best investors (not hide under the desk).
I guess the recession is “officially” over. Dow just went back to 10,000. However, there is still a ton of people without jobs; and, clearly, things will never go back to the way they were.
For most of us in the third sector the DEMAND for our services and support has dramatically increased.
NOW MORE THAN EVER… we need to be out with our best CHAMPIONS and PROSPECTIVE INVESTORS.
Update: My wife, Anna, and I welcomed our first child to the world (very) early Friday morning: William (Will) Xavier Fellers.
Will and mom are doing great. He’s a big baby – coming in at 10lbs 11ozs! He’s built like a tight-end with long legs and big hands. It’s clear he will make an excellent addition to Fighting Irish recruiting class of 2027. Though, growing up around Tom he may just turn those long legs and arms into become a golden glove boxer…
Thanks all for your well wishes and support. Send an email – I’m happy to pass along a picture of the little ‘X-Man’ as many have taken to calling him… though I’m an internet geek I’m still weary of posting Will for the world at three days old 🙂
As an entrepreneur, people often come to me for advice on ‘getting hired’. As someone that lives in the For–Impact-World (read: often, not always not-for-profit arena), people often come to me for advice about getting into field.
I’m posting this primarily as a reference point – some points are unique, some are not. Although first person, I’m just offering an employer’s perspective. I’m 11 for 11 this year in helping friends find something that really works for them. Good luck!
You want a job. I don’t.
Don’t email asking about ‘job openings’… looking for a job. Etc. As someone that hires people, I’m not really motivated about writing another paycheck.
This means most of the traditional ‘job hunting’ stuff is not relevant.
Instead, I’m trying to align myself with people that are super passionate about changing the world – that see this as a vocation, a calling, a purpose. If it’s a job, then YOUR purpose is a paycheck. Substitute ‘Changing the World’ with ‘Serving People’, ‘Inventing the Coolest Technology’, ‘Shaping Young People’, etc.
Don’t send a resume. Do start a conversation. (more…)
While not the number ‘42’ (the Hitchhiker’s Guide answer to everything), 9 is a good number. It’s 3 x 3 (my favorite number). It’s a part of the ‘perfect number’ 81 (both the square root and the sum of the the numbers).
And, it’s the number of our GUIDING PRINCIPLES for our QUANTUM LEAP CAMPAIGN.