Commit to Sales

For Impact Funding Roadmap – A History

Quick Background: This Funding Roadmap has gone through so many iterations over the last 30 years. It started as the Ideal Development Operation in the early 80’s with our work with Catholic high schools. Originally, it was almost all ‘green‘ … focused on funding and fundraising. The IMPACT drives INCOME epiphany changed that thinking in the early 90’s. This version (which could legitimately be v30) has been taught, trained and shared with thousands. Each word has been purposely chosen (and most have been a battle between Tom and Nick). It ain’t perfect and it will probably be tweaked again.

Special, Special, Special Note: Although I’ve tried to take 40 years of fundraising, sales, entrepreneur and business experience and simplify it into 3, 3 and 3 (with some subsets) … there is still maybe too much for many of our Type A, ADD-challenged readers/users.

Here is a SHORTCUT:

Blue #1 Red #3 Green #3
Simplify Message Determine Top 3 Prospects/Champions Just Ask
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You’re in Sales…Get Over It

We have worked with some really impactful organizations that, like many of you, came late to the idea that:

“God gives every bird food. He just doesn’t throw it into the nest!”

In ALL of our work with clients, speaking, training, etc. … one part of our MESSAGE is always the same:

NOTHING HAPPENS UNLESS YOU’RE OUT SELLING …YOUR VISION. YOUR IMPACT. YOUR MESSAGE. YOUR IDEAS. YOUR RETURN ON INVESTMENT. Etc., etc., etc.

All of you are deeply committed to your CAUSE and your ORGANIZATION.

Yet, none of you have been ‘TRAINED IN SALES!’

(You’re not alone. Even the Nation’s business schools provide no SALES TRAINING. Yet, in this ‘FOR PROFIT WORLD,’ SALES drives [almost] every company. Without it, all products and services remain ‘on the shelf.’)

I’ve spent my whole adult life in SALES, much of it selling ‘INTANGIBLES’ (large gifts/commitments for great causes and cases).

We are out ‘PRACTICING’ our craft/art every day.

Here are three really big things that may help you on your next VISIT/’SALES CALL:’

  • DISCOVERY
  • SHARE THE STORY PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY
  • AUTHENTICITY

ACTION:

  • Write this on a little card.
  • Look at this every time you go to visit/meet with a Qualified Prospect or Potential Investor.

THE SHORTHAND.

1. DISCOVERY.
Where’s the best place to find out ANYTHING you want to know about your INVESTOR/PROSPECT??? FROM THEM! Remember: SELLING IS NOT TELLING!ASK QUESTIONS. More importantly, LISTEN TO ANSWERS!

Here are three great questions to help you with your DISCOVERY.

  • WHY are you engaged/involved with us?
  • Which of these three things (buckets) is most important to you?
  • Can you help us Fund this Vision?

 

2. SHARE THE STORY –> PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY.
SHARE THE STORY is exactly that. SHARE. THE. STORY. Everybody in the organization can share THEIR ‘story.’You must also be able to capture the ‘STORY’ of your organization … your cause … your vision.

Then, PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY. This is NOT about ASKING PEOPLE FOR MONEY!!!

  • It’s about PRESENTING THE OPPORTUNITY for them to make an IMPACT!
  • To move from SUCCESS TO SIGNIFICANCE!
  • To SAVE LIVES. To CHANGE LIVES. To CHANGE THE WORLD!

 

Special Note: Ask your Board Members or Volunteer Leaders whether they’d rather go out and ‘ASK THEIR FRIENDS FOR MONEY’ …or SHARE THE STORY PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY

 

3. AUTHENTICITY.
First, this is about being YOURSELF! If you just started with the organization, say so; and then explain why you made that decision. If you spent 10 or 15 years working with your organization, explain WHY you devoted that kind of commitment to this cause. Additionally, AUTHENTICITY is about total candor. Sometimes even BRUTAL HONESTY. (“You’re one of our top investors. You helped us build this plan and we know you want to see it succeed. Can you take the LEAD?”) A great line that is about as AUTHENTIC as you can get. “I have one goal with you today: to have your jaw drop at the unbelievable impact that this organization is having on children. That’s it.”

For those of you out VISITING and PRESENTING … I hope you can use these simple but powerful reminders.

For the rest of you …
Get out of the office. (GO PRESENT OPPORTUNITIES.)
Stop doing research. (DO DISCOVERY … ON THE VISIT.)
Stop doing proposals and grant writing. (GO SHARE THE STORY AND PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY.)

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It’s All About Sales

I know. It’s a ‘napkin’. It’s a ‘Guiding Principle’. It’s everywhere! But it’s also a big freakin’ lesson: Those who successfully achieve campaign success are driven by SALES.

3 questions to get you going:

  • Have you built a SALES CULTURE??? (Goals, Measurement, Tools, Resources)
  • Who is your SALES MANAGER??? (In Other Words, Who is the Sales Team Leader)
  • Who is on your SALES TEAM??? (Do they know it?)
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Sales Attitude

Think about this absolutely ‘brilliant’ spot-on quote of W. Clement Stone:
“SALES are contingent on the ATTITUDE of the salesman – not the ATTITUDE of the PROSPECT.”
ATTITUDE has everything to do with the way you respond to ‘ISSUES’ … when you sit down to visit with a PROSPECT who:

  • Doesn’t know much about the organization.
  • Doesn’t understand why the organization needs money.
  • Questions if this is the ‘right time’ (economy) to be asking for money.
  • Folds their arms. They start off being totally unengaged. They pre-empt with a
    token gift or a blanket statement that they’re not giving to anyone right now.

IF you let the ATTITUDE of the PROSPECT dictate the flow and the outcome of the visit … you would end up with zero, nada, zilch.

But, when you let YOUR ATTITUDE (belief in the cause … clear understanding of the purpose and priorities … a masterful presentation of the plan) control the visit…
AMAZING THINGS HAPPEN.
W. Clement Stone says it all. (YOUR) ATTITUDE is everything!!!

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OGs Note: Sales Nuggets from Frank Sullivan

These three nuggets come from Frank Sullivan, who was my first mentor and perhaps the best life insurance salesman in the world. A Trustee at Notre Dame and a very good friend, Frank wrote a book in 1970 called THE CRITICAL PATH TO SALES SUCCESS. I’m going to share some wonderful nuggets and gems from Frank’s book and his life.

Sales Nugget 1: Ask Everyone for $1 Million

“It’s easier to sell a $1 Million life insurance policy to a QUALIFIED PROSPECT than it is to sell a $10,000 policy to a relative with no money.”
– Frank Sullivan

One of the things I learned from Frank Sullivan very, very, very early in my development career was that it’s just as easy to sell $1 MILLION life insurance policy to a QUALIFIED PROSPECT … than it is to sell a $10,000 policy to a relative (with no money)!

That didn’t seem like much at the time. Over the years, it’s been HUGE!

There were a number of great tips and ideas Frank gave around this ‘lesson:’

  • Create a PROFILE of what your $1 Million prospect looks like.
  • You’ll never make a $1 Million ‘sale’ unless you ASK for $1 Million!!!
  • You must RATE all of your prospects so you can see who’s at the ‘top.’ (See our MASTER PROSPECT LIST.)

Some years later, while still at Notre Dame, a good friend and one of the most persevering (read ‘stubborn in a good way’) people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with was Tom Pilot. Tom took Frank’s “Million Dollar” philosophy to its highest level.

He simply ASKED (almost) EVERYONE for $1 MILLION. It’s amazing how many people said yes!!!

Sales Nugget 2: The 5 Steps on the ‘Critical Path to Sales Success’

Frank believed that there were five activities that every salesman must perform. In order of importance, they were:

  • ESTABLISH GOALS.
  • GET GOOD NAMES.
  • MAKE THE APPROACH.
  • MAKE THE PRESENTATION.
  • MAKE THE CUSTOMER A CLIENT.

Frank was a master at selling life insurance, which is certainly one of the most difficult
‘intangible product’ sales. (This is much like what we ‘sell’ … when we’re ‘selling’ a
cause … case … vision … impact … or solution.)

Although I have revised my ‘sales system’ many, many times over the years, I can still go back to Frank’s ‘five steps’ and tie much of what I’ve done back to those steps.

How are YOU doing in terms of establishing goals? Getting good names? Making the
approach? Making a presentation? And making the customer a client?

Sales Nugget 3: The Importance of Personal Goals

It may seem a little weird to talk about PERSONAL GOALS when you’re dealing with SALES or SALES GOALS. Frank Sullivan, however, was all about writing out ALL of his goals and plans … personal, financial, business, sales, etc.

Frank was literally the first person in my ‘business life’ (and, actually, one of the very few people) who talked about his personal life and his family and his own goals … as they related to his business and sales goals.

Frank ultimately came down with Alzheimer’s at the end of his life, but, by then, he had impacted so many people and left a huge legacy. These ideas of ‘personal goals’ and ‘family first’ was his GIFT to me. I am forever grateful.

Frank’s the one who first gave me the idea of ‘solo time’ with the kids. I turned it into BIRTHDAY BREAKFAST, where we actually went over their ‘favorite’ books, TV shows, friends, food, etc. … and then did their GOALS for the upcoming year. I tried to capture all of it in my journal/green book.

If you’ve never done ‘GOALS’ with a 3-year-old, you’ve really missed out!

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The Most Important Predictor of Sales Success

Since (as you know so well from reading this) YOU’RE IN SALES! (and, GET OVER IT) … I thought this message from Philip Delves Broughton was very, very interesting. Broughton is the author of THE ART OF THE SALE and writes for Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and others.

He writes that what most companies in sales training programs think really matters (in sales) is wrong.(!) He says that when training sales people, they tend to propose one of two things: A sales process with methods and tricks which can move you from prospecting to closing, or a set of behaviors and character traits supposedly typical of great salespeople and worth mimicking.

He and I both agree that these two things are important; but Broughton says neither approach gets to the most important predictor of sales success:

“If sales people think of what they do as at odds with who they are or what they want to achieve in life, they will fail.”

“If they are comfortable with it, they will thrive.”

“Nothing matters more in sales than how each sales person perceives his or her role,
and how the act of selling protects, inflates or undermines his or her sense of self.”

Here’s his bottom line:

“What enables a sales person to succeed is that they have found a MATCH between who they are and what they are being required to do.”

This is why ‘SELLING’ is so satisfying and so much fun in the FOR IMPACT WORLD!

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The Leap to Sales is Improved by Trial, Not Time

In general, organizations spend way too much TIME prepping for fundraising. We’ve seen organizations take TWO YEARS to create systems, hire the right people, put together plans.

Two years later, they’re ‘ready to start’. In that time they’ve made ZERO visits. As an organization, they’ve built a culture of ‘getting ready’… not making any visits.

Unfortunately, this never translates into action in the sales arena.

Sales is about speed. It’s about being in the field and modifying your way to perfection. It’s about ALWAYS growing/learning/building – as an individual and as an organization. Sales is about relationships. You don’t build relationships by planning. You build and maximize relationships by talking to people. As you COMMIT TO SALES we would urge you to ‘Engage. Then Plan!” in the words of Andy Grove.

Or, it it helps, give yourself TWO WEEKS to simplify your message and clarify your plan. Then start making visits. The only way to better the plan, get better at sales and (through both) raise a lot more money for your impact is through more TRIAL, not more TIME.

It shouldn’t take you two years to build momentum with a sales plan. It should take you 20 visits. Do the 20 visits… THEN build a model around what’s working. Oh, and as a bonus, you’ll actually HAVE FUNDS to help you build your model because you’ve been in the field selling along the way.

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Nick’s Note: Marketing v. Sales

If you’ve seen Tom or I speak … or if you’ve been to a workshop then you’ve probably heard our rant about ‘No More Special Events.’

A bold few always want to challenge this position:

  • “But that’s how we build relationships.”
  • “But that’s how we generate awareness.”

No one ever says, “But that’s our CASH COW!”

The reasons most often heard in defending special events are really tied to MARKETING. Substitute the objections above with, “But that’s how we do our marketing!”

Interesting. And, OK. So that begs a question, what about your SALES?

Think about your development efforts in terms of MARKETING and SALES. Right now we don’t use those terms (Enough? At all?) Use MARKETING and SALES as a simple strategic framework. What IF we all agreed that the one big event was going to be the most incredible opportunity for us to tell our story? What if we didn’t pretend it made a ton of money?

If you’re going to keep your event – in the name of building relationships – then tell me what you’re going to be doing to MAXIMIZE RELATIONSHIPS.

If you decide to keep that event, then decide its purpose. If it’s to BUILD RELATIONSHIPS, then set out to make it the best at doing that … but don’t pretend it’s the centerpiece of your funding strategy.

MARKETING and SALES.
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS and MAXIMIZING RELATIONSHIPS.

A reminder: The best way to MAXIMIZE RELATIONSHIPS is 1:1.

And a question: What if we took that time, energy and effort spent on the event(s) and put that into getting great visits and providing customized experiences with our top 10 or 20 prospects?

It’s the function of marketing to produce qualified leads for sales. I can’t remember where I got this definition, but I favor it as it relates to our development efforts. Once you determine what efforts are marketing and what are sales, then you can ask, “How are we using this marketing effort to find qualified leads for sales?”

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To Sell is Human

For Impact Leader Jim Mahoney wrote an absolutely stellar summary of To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others.

To echo Pink, Mahoney, Suddes, et all…WE’RE ALL IN SALES.

Urge, urge, urge you to download and read the following Book Notes by Jim. Nine pages. Worth every minute.

At the same time, read Dan Pink’s book. He’s written some other great stuff, including A Whole New Mind (a favorite), Drive, and Free Agent Nation.

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Nick’s Note: Return on Energy

Here is a simple idea you can use to frame your thinking around your funding plan:

RETURN ON ENERGY.

This seems to be especially big for organizations trapped in a transaction-based system of special events (life-sucking, volunteer-draining) with often and incredibly low RETURN ON ENERGY.

If that describes your organization, then think about this rhetorical question: What would happen if you did away with one event. Then, you focused all that energy (time, urgency, people, resources) on building a great relationships with one or two prospects that could invest $1 million in your vision?

Remember:

  • Special Events As Fundraisers Stink- they’re not special.
  • Major Gifts: Raise the most money at the least cost.
  • 97/3: 97% of the money/investments comes from 3% of your family … focus on
    the 3%

Story:

I was with a school in Albuquerque. The bulk of the funding strategy revolved around special events … in fact, they were running FIVE events. The board was drained. It made a commitment to CHANGE the way it FUNDED the VISION. In only one week, the board generated more than $80,000 to fund student scholarships by working only a few key phone relationships. To really see the ‘WOW’ you need to know that they these events were consuming hundreds of volunteer hours and netting an average of $30K – $50K each (with a funding cost as high as 70 cents to raise a dollar – yikes).

To me, this is a wonderful example of stopping to think about the RETURN ON ENERGY, making a commitment to change and enjoying IMMEDIATE RESULTS.

Final Note:

This applies to EVERYTHING you’re doing. Take a moment today to think about your RETURN ON ENERGY.

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9 Guiding Principles for Sales Success

Here are 9 GUIDING PRINCIPLES to help you ‘sell’ your VISION, your MESSAGE, your PRIORITIES …

Pretty self-explanatory, but there are some ‘notes’ with each one.

GP #1 CHANGE YOUR VOCABULARY! WORDS ARE IMPORTANT! Stop using all the typical ‘nonprofit’ industry jargon. Start using ‘sales’ terms, ‘business’ terms, ‘common sense’ terms.

Appointments Visits
Power Points Presentation Tools
Asking for Money Presenting the Opportunity
GP #2 THINK BIG. BUILD SIMPLE. ACT NOW! Our absolute favorite Entrepreneur’s Mantra. Also works great for SALES. THINK. BUILD. ACT. BIG. SIMPLE. NOW.
GP #3 THE RULE OF 3! ‘FORCE’ everything you do into groups of 3! Your Message Points. Your Priorities. Your Buckets. Your Sales Presentation. Trust us. It works.
GP #4 NO TIMEOUTS. NO SUBSTITUTIONS. NO EXCUSES. OG’s Notre Dame Boxers’ Mantra. Works for sales. Take responsibility for your life. Your actions. Your results.
GP #5 PREPARE. PRACTICE. PERFORM. You ‘get’ PREPARE and PERFORM. What we never, ever, ever do (in our world) is PRACTICE! PRACTICE YOUR PRESENTATION. Your response to objections and challenges. Your opening. Your close.
GP #6 FIRST WITH THE HEART. THEN WITH THE HEAD. This is the corollary to a great line in the book, THE POWER OF ONE.  Zig Ziglar, über sales trainer, says it perfectly: “People buy on emotion, then justify with logic.”
GP #7 DO THE MATH. You can’t ‘SELL’ unless you understand all the ‘NUMBERS!’ This is about goals, self-fulfilling prophecy, and the Stockdale Paradox (Face the Brutal Facts).
GP #8 ASK QUESTIONS. (ACTUALLY) LISTEN TO ANSWERS. This is, without question, the greatest ‘SALES TIP’ … ever!
GP #9 SHARE THE STORY. PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY. No explanation necessary. Just do it.
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The Elevator Pitch is Dead

“What’s your elevator pitch?”

The lore of the elevator pitch comes from the early days of Hollywood when one would hope to trap an executive in an elevator and ‘pitch.’ The Elevator Pitch is an enduring shorthand that represents the simplest description of what you do.

You need brevity and simplicity… but simplicity alone is not your goal! Your goal is to get the other person to say, “I get it!” or “I want to learn more!”

The Elevator Pitch is dead. What we aim for is Elevator Engagement.

We achieve our goal more effectively and efficiently if we focus on the two-way (engagement) and not the one-way (pitch). Instead of spewing for 20-60 seconds (even if succinct), think about one great question you can ask the other person to get them ENGAGED in a conversation.

At our boot camps we do an exercise to illustrate that you can actually communicate WAYYYY more in 60 seconds by simply asking one or two questions than you can by talking (however concise you may be). It works because:

  • In asking a question, you start with the other person’s construct (or gestalt!).
  • We become fully engaged when we are talking. So, the simple act of getting the other person to talk changes the level of engagement. (This is Dale Carnegie 101!)
  • If you start with a question, you immediately learn what is pertinent and non-pertinent. You can use a short amount of time on relevant information.
  • Finally, we can position our work in their words. LISTENING is one of the most powerful selling skills in the world.

Earlier this year we were helping an organization make a neuroscience pitch to a foundation. The executive director was asked to appear before the foundation board and ‘make a pitch’. We had to reprogram her default, one-way pitch, to instead starting with a question to the panel of eight. She simply asked, “Has anyone ever had experience with a stroke, or a family member that’s had a stroke?” The board chair raised his hand and then spent two minutes talking about the importance of neuroscience research. Others jumped in. They were engaged — fully.

The executive director was able to simply build on the conversation. Though she had eight slides prepared, she found she only needed to use three of them (in response to the conversation). The board said it was one of the best pitches they had ever received – that’s because she didn’t pitch; she engaged.

She was awarded the grant!

Nota bene: There are many circles (usually tied to funding communities, e.g., silicon valley and nyc / financial) where a ‘pitch-deck’ is standard affair. Don’t let the ‘pitch deck’ put you in ‘pitch mode.’ As in the neuroscience story, you should focus on engagement. And, of course, we’re partial to the one-page pitch deck!

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