The Engagement Tool

Show. Listen. Engage.

SHOW. LISTEN. ENGAGE.

We have pioneered the use of a simple, visual ‘ENGAGEMENT TOOL’ to replace your PowerPoint, brochures and existing material.

  • The GOAL is a simple, visual ‘TOOL’ (MAP) to help present a powerful CASE for SUPPORT… on a ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ VISIT.
  • The PURPOSE of the Engagement Tool is three-fold:
    • It is a specific, visual way to ENGAGE the Prospect in CONVERSATION and DIALOGUE. (Thus, ‘Engagement’ Tool vs. ‘Presentation Tool’.)
    • It’s a great FRAMEWORK for the VISIT/PRESENTATION.
    • It puts the ‘CLOSE’ (HOW YOU CAN HELP) right in front of the Presenter(s) (Sales Team) and the Prospect.
  • The STRATEGY with the Engagement Tool is to CONTROL THE FLOW of the Presentation! (Think of it like Linus’ Security Blanket!)
  • The ENGAGEMENT TOOL is
    • NOT a ‘brochure’!
    • NOT meant to be a ‘stand alone’!
    • NOT a ‘collateral piece’!
    • NOT a text-heavy, small print, multiple-page ‘document’!
SHOW
(Don’t Tell)
LISTEN
(Don’t Talk)
ENGAGE
(Don’t Pitch)
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Engagement Tool: Notes and Thoughts

* Following are notes and thoughts to help you understand this at the conceptual level… as well as how best to USE the ENGAGEMENT TOOL to produce ‘closes’, ‘commitments’ and ‘cash’.

  • It grabs their attention! The SIMPLICITY and VISUAL nature of this ‘piece’ is so totally different than most material being used on Visits (which are not designed for one-on-one Presentations!)… that it commands attention! (Most likely, this will be the first and only actual ‘Presentation’ Tool for your organization.)
  • It is all about the ‘REAL ESTATE’. (Location, Location, Location) Using the constraint of limited space, the Engagement Tool tries to capture an organization’s IMPACT POINTS and many of the TALKING POINTS necessary to make a great Presentation and, at the same time, provides for meaningful ‘white space’ to allow for emphasis, additions, or clarifications.
  • It actually allows for a ‘TRIPLE ASK’!!!
    TODAY
    (Annual Operations)
    TOMORROW
    (Priority Projects)
    FOREVER
    (Legacy Giving)

    [As opposed to ‘cultivation’, multiple visits and never getting ‘dollars on the table’, much less ‘in the bank’!]

  • It is designed at ALTITUDE. (See here for more.)
    30,000′ Why Purpose Blue
    14,000′ What Priorities Red
    3′ How Plan Green

    We have used this ALTITUDE FRAMEWORK as an integral, critical part of our presentation FLOW with hundreds of organizations on thousands of visits. It works.

    • Start with, the WHY. Once they’re on board…
    • Move to the WHAT. Once they understand …
    • It’s on to the HOW. HOW you will execute and HOW they can help.
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Engagement Tool: Altitude and Notes on How to Use

Here is a deeper explanation of the power of ‘ALTITUDE’ on a visit/presentation:

  • Always go (back) up. Nick Fellers has a really great way to use ‘altitude/elevation’ on the presentation. When training or coaching, Nick makes this very clear: When in doubt… when challenged… when questioned… ALWAYS GO (BACK) UP TO 30,000’! (The Vision…The Message…The Purpose.)
  • Get ‘buy-in’ at the highest level. As you make the Case for Support, the prospect/ potential investor needs to understand and acknowledge their acceptance of the ‘blue’ VISION and ‘red’ PRIORITIES. Sometimes this is “You had me at hello.” (Renee to Tom Cruise) Other times, it may take the entire first visit to get them to understand and agree that this is an important cause and case. Regardless, it doesn’t make any sense to talk about the Plan or How They Can Help if they don’t ‘get it’ at the highest level.
  • Dissent on the descent. To put this in another way, there can be no ‘dissent’ on the descent! I think of this as kind of the opposite of getting the ‘bends’. If a diver ascends too quickly, they get a case of the ‘bends’. It’s painful and many times life-threatening. During a presentation, the prospect can get the ‘reverse-bends’ if you descend too rapidly. “Hello. Thanks for seeing me. Here’s our campaign Can you give $100,000?”
  • ‘Permission to proceed’. We have actually incorporated this specific terminology into the presentation. (It’s actually the words used to complete a ‘transfer’ on a high ropes challenge course!) “It seems like you’re fully engaged with both our Mission and our Message. Would it be okay (permission to proceed) to go deeper and talk about our Strategic Priorities and our Plan to make all this happen???”
  • Altitude is not always top-down or hierarchical. You can ‘enter’ at any level. You can focus on any level. You can travel up and down… and even side to side, especially when you’re using an Engagement Tool.
  • Learn to draw! The Engagement Tool is meant to be used with markers, colored pens or some writing instrument. You can add visuals such as arrows or circles or words as you use this framework. Write on it! It encourages participation and conversation!
  • Ask questions! Again, since this is all about ENGAGEMENT, CONVERSATION and DIALOGUE, the Engagement Tool should allow for multiple ways to ASK QUESTIONS!!!
    • 3 GREAT QUESTIONS:
    • 1. The ‘Blue’, 30,000’ Question:
      “What do you know about… our Organization/our Current Vision/New Goals?”
    • 2. The ‘Red, 14,000’ Question:
      “Which one of these ‘3 Circles’ (Priorities) is most important to you?”
    • 3. The Green, 3’ Question:
      “Based on your understanding of the Purpose, Priorities and Plan… would it be okay to talk about how you can help?”
  • Transition is important: Always use questions to transition from the levels of dialogue or engagement. E.g.
    • “What does your involvement with (Org) mean to you?”
    • “Did you have a unique experience at (Org)?”
    • “Are you willing to be a ‘CHAMPION’ for (Org)?”
    • “We are asking everyone in our family to help in 3 ways. Can we go there?”
  • ‘Permission to Proceed’
    We also call these ‘transition questions’ – because they TRANSITION within the flow.

    • “Would it be okay?”
    • “Would it be possible to?”
    • “At this time, I’d like to talk specifically about the Funding Plan if that’s okay with you.”
    • If there was a poor job of predisposition, you might even be able to get away with: “I know we didn’t come here today to talk about numbers but it certainly seems like we’re in sync about the projects. Would it be okay if I were to share the Funding Plan?”

    Asking for permission to proceed allows you to be comfortably assertive.

  • Customize it. Put the person’s or company’s name at the top, write in the specific Priorities or Projects to be funded, or whatever.
  • Leave it with them. Many Prospects will actually ask if they can keep this ‘visual’ representation. You can leave them ‘their’ copy… with all the handwritten notes… and a clean copy that they can share with others (if needed).
  • Fold or front/back. You can fold the Engagement Tool so only the ‘blue’ is showing. Keeps their attention/focus at 30,000’! (Then, I open it to ‘proceed’).*We also have put a (Campus) MAP or ‘drawings/sketches’ of Building Projects on the back.
  • Size matters. We (almost) always use this as an 18 x 24 or at least an 11 x 17. Plenty of room to write, draw, etc. Plus, you can stand up, move around and ‘engage’ your way through the Framework.
  • Finally, PRACTICE. PRACTICE. PRACTICE. The more you use the Engagement Tool… the better you will be able to control the FLOW of the visit. And, you will figure out what works and what doesn’t.
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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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