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.”
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!
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!!!
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?)
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:’
- SHARE THE STORY PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY
- Write this on a little card.
- Look at this every time you go to visit/meet with a Qualified Prospect or Potential Investor.
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
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.)