This is a simple concept I’ve used a lot the coaching of others.
I often watch people in an interview, or a sales call, ramble on in response to a question. In many cases, it’s as though they’re doing the thinking WHILE they’re talking.. and the model I have in my head is that of exploding fireworks. They start talking about one thing, the FIND a point and then explode into a new direction around that point… and then another direction… and so on.
Think instead about the mental image of throwing a dart to answer the question.
Stop. Think about what point you want to make. Throw the dart. Then stop talking.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” – Charles Darwin
The same is true of organizations. I read somewhere that the common element of the longest surviving companies in the world was not business model, sector, or size… it that they were great learning organizations.
“Nothing endures but change.” – Heraclitus
The role of leadership is not to prevent the system from falling apart. On the contrary, its role is to lead change that causes the system to fall apart and then to reintegrate into a new whole.” – Ichak Adizes
Kerry and I are spending time this week at the AFP’s International Fundraising Conference in San Francisco. If you’re here, come find us! We delivered a session this am: BE FOR IMPACT! It was great to share the point of view, napkins, some stories about Walt Disney and more!
In the sales world, there is such thing as an ‘assumptive close’. This is where a sales person ASSUMES the customer is ready to buy – So they skip past the close and work on the mechanics. For example, “Tell me when you would like to take receipt of your item and we can get started on the paperwork.”
In our social impact world, I’d like to repurpose TheAssumptive Close. I don’t think of this as a closing technique, instead, I think of it as an attitude and a mode of communication that helps you continue toward a closed commitment.
There are times when a prospect is CLEARLY ‘in’, but we haven’t yet confirmed the commitment. Perhaps you had a great visit and the prospect said, “I want to help – financially – give me some time to look at my other obligations…” If I were to coach you through this follow up strategy, I’d say, don’t think about HOW or IF you’re going to have a numbers conversation on the next visit. Instead, remember the prospect has already said, “I’m IN!!!!”
So, you can continue to move forward with this ASSUMPTION in the next conversation.
Too often, we see uncertainty and doubt creep in. I was with an Executive Director last week, and in this case, she was trying to figure out how to bring up the gift again. She had doubt about the commitment and – absent of a mental model – moved backward and started trying to figure out how to ask – again. Just thinking about this as an ‘Assumptive Close’ helped her frame the next conversation.
The predisposition (framing) for the next conversation was as simple as this: “I’m looking forward to getting together tomorrow and talking next steps. It’s great to know you’re ‘in’. We are so incredibly grateful for your support.”
You can ASSUME it will close and you can communicate with that belief in mind!
I picked this nugget up while reading Deep Work, by Cal Newport.
The Zeigarnik Effect describes the effect of incomplete tasks to dominate our attention.
Newport introduces this effect in the context of discussing the processing powers of the conscious and subconscious minds. He says it’s important to ‘shut down’ (the conscious mind) routinely – both for the sake of resting the conscious mind AND in order to let the subconscious mind do it’s work; the brain literally needs to switch modes of thinking.
Some tasks require deep focus of the conscious mind – like writing and math. Other things are more complex and can be better solved by the subconscious mind.
Note: I recently read that our conscious mind can process 32 bits of information at one time and our subconscious mind can process BILLIONS of information at once! (Source: Stealing Fire).
Newport suggests we are prone to leave action items open, or incomplete. They then dominate our attention. I know I’ve experienced this — processing the same to-do over-and-over. This is the Zeigarnik Effect.
Newport describes how he shuts down work each evening. He closes up action items and writes up the plan for the next day. This helps to turn off the conscious mind.
Incomplete tasks both dominate our attention AND (therefor) rob you of the ability to switch modes; they wear down your conscious processing mind AND they prevent you from using your supercomputer — the subconscious mind. So, beware the Zeigarnik Effect!
Our definition would not work well in a dictionary but here it is: Predisposition is EVERYTHING you can do to make the visit NOT a COLD CALL.
We all know what a ‘cold call’ is… so what can we do to make it NOT a cold call? It includes your strategy to secure the visit but it’s much more than that.. it’s about setting the total CONTEXT and the STORY for the visit / ask.
We need to be predisposing to these three things:
The cause or the case.
The team. (WHO ARE YOU?)
Effective predisposition accelerates the entire sales cycle.
Here is a short video nugget to help you understand and leverage PREDISPOSITION.
Transformational gifts are not always the largest gifts. Sometimes a commitment made at the right time – early in a project, or perhaps when a campaign is stalled – can be transformational.
When funding for a project is unclear, or when funders are not coming through with commitments, confidence can decline. On a team this often manifests itself in the form of more meetings, lack of team cohesion, and increased turnover. We cannot overstate the importance of confidence – for individuals, for your advancement team, for your complete enterprise.
The nonprofit sector is the largest sector of our economy. We would love to be able to calculate the lost productivity, or lost output, due to uncertainty, fear, or simply a lack of clarity that arises from (or, in many cases, produces) a lack of funding.
We’ve witnessed how a gift commitment at the right time can provide more than just momentum – it can transform a team and an enterprise. It can validate the vision and trigger a state of flow in an organization. In the funding function, this translates into increased confidence in the story, more presentations, more asks, and more revenue.
There are times when we can share the internal uncertainty with a funder – to talk about the impact the commitment could have on the psychology of the team. Any funder that’s ever had to lead will understand the importance of validation, clarity, and the morale boost that follows.
In a way we’re saying, “Your impact is not only going to be on the kids, or homes, or projects. It’s going to have a very, very real impact on our team. They have been putting in long hours, fighting for this plan.”
It takes a particular command and control to share this kind of message with a funder. It’s not about showing weakness. It’s… a real opportunity to transform. This is the kind of thing we mean when we talk about being ‘a real partner’ with the funder and standing ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’.
So, transformational gifts can be about something other than huge gifts that give scale; they can be about well-timed funding commitments that give confidence. Confidence and team-cohesion is TRANSFORMATIONAL.
It’s easier to get into something than it is to get out of something.
This isn’t something most people think about, but upon hearing, say, “Yeah, isn’t that the truth!?” This is a human insight with implications for anything we start – like a new partnership, position, or program.
In the natural world, it has a parallel with Newton’s first law of motion: An object in motion tends to stay in motion.
And, while the insight would seem to be a caution about jumping into things quickly, I think of it more as a law of human behavior. For instance, with a new program commitment we might want to think about the exit strategy – in case it’s needed. For a new funding relationship it means we should (often) be less concerned with getting a maximized gift commitment and maybe just focus on getting a new prospect ‘in’ and committed to our work (at any level).