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For Impact | The Suddes Group

Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

2:1 Rule for Deliberate Dialogue


I was recently coaching a brilliant scientist. She is world-renowned for her research and was having no problem getting visits. I joined her on a visit.

Despite our plan, she spoke for 20 solid minutes before giving the prospect a chance to engage in some form of dialogue.

Everything she said was good. The only challenge is that it was shutting out the other person. We were – most certainly – skipping right past a host of connections.

On every visit, the prospects were wow’d but not maximized.

To change this, we started to focus on the practice of creating DELIBERATE DIALOGUE.

Deliberate dialogue is the act of intentionally
stopping to create dialogue.

For my scientist friend, we had to be even more specific. The coaching was this:

For every two minutes of ‘presenting’, you should STOP and ask a quick question.

We called this the 2:1 RULE using DELIBERATE DIALOGUE.

This is about INTENTIONALITY!!!

Some people do this very effectively:

I’ve been talking for a few minutes so I want to stop and then see if this is making sense.

Or simply: Does this make sense?

Or, you can set it up: I will talk for a few minutes and pause to see if we’re tracking.

It doesn’t have to be scripted. Most of the time the ‘talker’ just needs to stop long enough for the other person to jump in.

If you’re struggling to ENGAGE with someone else, or
If YOU end up doing all the talking,
be DELIBERATE in creating dialogue.

The benefits are numerous:

  • If you’ve lost them, then it’s not by much.
  • If there is an on-ramp for the other person, it lets him or her catch it.
  • You can listen when the other person is talking.
  • When we talk, we become fully engaged. (So let the other person talk.)
  • Feedback. Simple.

For the scientist, it was a game-changer.

Commit to Sales – Video Nugget


We intentionally use the the word ‘SALES’ for these reasons:

  • As a contrast to ‘marketing’
    So much of traditional fundraising is about building relationships, donor acquisition, stewardship, or awareness. But if you’re doing ‘that event’ to BUILD relationships then it begs the question, what are you doing to MAXIMIZE relationships?
  • To emphasize Sales as a ‘world of knowledge’“You’re in sales, get over it!” – Tom Suddes

    Once we accept, embrace and SEEK ‘sales’ it opens a world of professional development, learning, and systems.

  • To emphasize the importance of a professional, face-to-face presentation!
    A commitment to sales requires a process, a presentation, follow up and much more!

If you’re someone that says, “Sales is not for me!” here is a definition we hope will entice you to stick around:

“Sales is not a business transaction. It is first and foremost the forging of the human connection.” – Bob Burg

Click here to view video (5:48)

If an organization were TRULY COMMITTED TO SALES we would see these key attributes:

  • (Focus on) PROSPECTS. Prospects. Drive. Everything.There would be no silos. We wouldn’t organize according to events, planned giving, annual fund – We would organize around prospects! (Think: Prospect portfolios and assigned Relationship Managers.)

    97/3!!! 97% of the funds come from 3% of your prospects! We would FOCUS on the 3%!

    Salespeople would be OUT OF THE OFFICE (visiting with prospects).

  • PROCESS! The team would commit to a SALES PROCESS. That process would focus on prospect strategy and making visits and asks. It would not be designed around events, direct mail, and shotgunning grant applications.
  • TEAM!The team would use TEAM SELLING. Adding to the previous points (about PROSPECTS and PROCESS) the team would be structured around helping Salespeople make visits and asks.
  • MATH! The team would KNOW THE MATH.It would have goals, plans, and metrics. (We’ll share more on metrics and a ‘sales dashboard’ in next week’s W.O.W. Email.)
  • ATTITUDE!And perhaps the most important attribute is attitude. You can coach around everything else but you can’t coach a bad attitude. There is no room for Eeyore on the Sales Team.

97/3: Pareto’s Rule on Steroids (for Fundraising)


Pareto’s Rule is the 80/20 rule. It states that 80% of the output comes from 20% of the causes. Pareto’s Rule is usually used to reference work (or output). E.g. 80% of the work is done by 20% of the team.

In the fundraising world we see Pareto’s Rule on steroids. 97% of the funds come from 3% of your prospects. This is axiomatic… it doesn’t matter if you’re a large university or a small start-up. The ratio almost always holds.

When I share this with groups I’m always challenged. “What about NPR? What about Salvation Army?”

My answer: JOAN KROC!!!

Joan Kroc left $200M to NPR and $1.5BILLION to The Salvation Army!!!

We’ve studied the ratio for years… sometimes it’s 95/5 or 99/1 but the universal model of philanthropy holds true (for organizations that consistently advance impact!)

Are you focusing your time, your energy, your effort on the 97% that gives 3%? Or, are you focusing your time/energy/effort on the 3% that can generate 97% of the funds needed to help change, save and impact lives.

NB: None of this is to disparage the 97%. This simply requires that we take a hard look at the math and then make decisions about where to focus.

Maximizing Relationships Requires a Funding Rationale


The absence of strong Funding Rationales (a.k.a. your reason for needing funds) likely means your organization is not maximizing relationships.

At a major-gifts level* there needs to be some specificity in terms of funding a specific program, outcome, or priority initiative. (See 10 Types of Funding Rationales).

If you don’t have a specific Funding Rationale then one of two things usually happens:

  1. The commitment is not maximized.

    People give to support a mission or a cause, and they invest more to support specific impact (or outcome).  Our experience has been that a portfolio gives 3x more when you’re able to clearly define a strong funding rationale!!!  

    This is the difference between asking,”Will you invest $10K in our vision?”  And, “Will you invest $10K to help with this priority and these outcomes that will help us deliver on the vision?”
  2. Funders (over) restrict the funding.

    When we see this, it’s an indication that the funder is creating a rationale because yours is not clear enough!

    Note: While restricted funding is not bad in and of itself, gifts committed with restrictions crafted by the funder hinder an organization’s efficiency or focus. Said another way, if you don’t define your priorities/rationales then someone will do it for you.

*For most organizations this is $10K+ and could come from an individual, corporation, or foundation.