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For Impact | The Suddes Group

Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

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!

Just Ask – Quotes


 

You’re in SALES. Get over it!

 

“If you don’t ASK, you don’t get.”
– Gandhi

 

Ask and it shall be given.
Seek and you shall find.
Knock and it shall be opened to you.”

– The Bible

 

“Rak B’ vakaysh!!
ONLY ASK!”

– Hebrew

 

“Ach Direach Cuir Ceist!!”
(But Only Put The Question)

– Gaelic

 

“SPEND MORE TIME
WITH BETTER PROSPECTS”

– Brian Tracey

 

MAXIMIZE RELATIONSHIPS…
AT THIS GIVEN MOMENT!

 

DON’T MAKE DECISIONS
FOR YOUR PROSPECT!

Ask…Listen…Ask…Listen


In our trainings, we do a ‘card trick’ to demonstrate the greatest sales tip ever.

ASK a question… LISTEN to the answer… ASK another question (based on the previous response)… LISTEN to answer.

Asking questions is the best way to do DISCOVERY… the best way to create ENGAGEMENT… and an absolutely marvelous way to be able to PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY!

Here are 3 quick tips on how to be a great listener, followed by an article from Selling Power (September/October 2011) titled ARE YOU LISTENING? (8 Steps to Positive Listening Skills That Can Improve Your Sales) by the editors of Selling Power.

  • Total focus. Actually sit up, engage with your eyes and ears as you focus on exactly what the prospect is saying.
  • Get people to tell their story. Most people love to talk about themselves and share their stories with you. This is a perfect fit with out IMPACT –> INCOME | SHARE THE STORY –> PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY. (It’s not just you that should share the story… but they should share their story with you.)
  • Take notes. In my mind, this is a great way to show respect, show that you’re listening and show that you care. The best thing about notes for me is that it helps me focus on listening, and then when the prospect is finished I can refer back to the notes and quotes.
  • *It’s also a great way to capture as much of the visit as you can for the Memo for the Record, which, of course, you are going to complete as soon after the call as possible.

Read the article for 8 More Steps to Positive Listening Skills!

Then… ASK… LISTEN… ASK… LISTEN.

Three Reasons Why You Should Probably Ask!


Thanks to Dan Kirsch at the Grinspoon Foundation for turning me on to influenceatwork.com. Here is the blog/article by Steve Martin, co-author and presenter at INFLUENCE AT WORK: Three Reasons Why You Should Probably Ask!

Reason #1: People are more likely say ‘yes’ than you think. Love that Martin cites actual studies. My experience is more anecdotal than scientific … yet backed up by over 6,000 visits/presentations … and thousands and thousands and thousands of ASKS in my life.

***JUST ASK is a life principle, not just a sales or business mantra.

In my world, most people actually want to say ‘yes‘ to a legitimate, fair and rational request.

Reason #2: Asking doesn’t weaken your power, it boosts it.

At The Suddes Group, we have an internal mantra of ACT or ASK. If you know what needs to be done, do it. If you’re not sure or need help or want someone else’s counsel … ASK.

***Again, not just sales. “I’ve had a long couple of days. Could you upgrade my room?” “I know my son’s tuition is due. Would it be possible to spread that over six months instead of one payment?” “Since this is a trip around the world in 23 days, including 9 all-night flights or trains, could we make all the reservations in business class/first class?”

BTW, the answer to all three of these questions was “YES“.

Reason #3. You’ll actually feel better if you ask.

Martin makes a great point about the difference between rejection and regret. Personally, I much prefer ‘rejection’ (or, better put, someone simply saying no to the request) … than to look back for weeks, months or years, with regret, wondering what would have happened if I had only asked.
 

JUST ASK. JUST ASK. JUST ASK.

 

Special, Special, Special Note to All Leaders in the For Impact World.

BIG/HUGE LESSON FROM THE FIELD.

We are doing a ton of work right now in healthcare and with healthcare foundations.

We spend a lot of time talking about about goals, increasing philanthropic revenue, staffing, major gifts vs. special events and much more.

The proverbial lightbulb went off when we started talking about ROI!

Return-On-Investment is a ridiculously simple concept for an advancement/development operation. It is especially relevant for a hospital foundation.

What is our ROI?

  • At 1X right now, it’s no wonder the hospital CEO won’t take our calls.
  • AT 2X, we’re generating revenue for the hospital, but our cost of fundraising is 50%!
  • At 3X, we become part of the conversation at the proverbial table.
  • At 5X (20% cost of fundraising), we are a integral and critical part of the business model.

There are two simple ways to dramatically change ROI: Reduce the denominator (cut expenses) and increase the numerator (raise more money).

The ROI conversation allows for a much more meaningful discussion about expenses, people, slots, what should be a foundation expense and what should be a hospital expense, etc.

Increasing philanthropic revenue is a function of ‘major gifts’, visits and presentations.
Then, the key to ROI is simple:

JUST ASK. JUST ASK. JUST ASK.

 

Just Ask Strategy


 
I wanted to share our JUST ASK STRATEGY with everyone engaged in the For Impact world.
 

THE FOR IMPACT JUST ASK STRATEGY
(It’s SIMPLE, not easy.)

Get a VISIT …

NOT AN APPOINTMENT (THINK ‘Doctor/Dentist’!)

With a QUALIFIED PROSPECT/POTENTIAL INVESTOR …

NOT A DONOR (THINK ‘Blood/Organ’!)

To do DISCOVERY…

NOT TALK, TALK, TALK (THINK ‘Blah, Blah, Blah’!)

To SHARE THE STORY …

NOT MORE INFORMATION (THINK ‘glazed eyes’!)

To PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY …

NOT ASK FOR MONEY (THINK ‘Beggar’!)

SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER …

NOT FACE-TO-FACE, EYEBALL-TO-EYEBALL (THINK ‘Competition/Confrontation’!)

To FUND THE VISION!!!

NOT HELP TO ‘SURVIVE’ (THINK UGH!)

 
VOCAB, WORDS, FRAMING have a huge impact on your ATTITUDE and ACTION!

Think about getting an appointment with a donor to overwhelm them with information and ask them for money.

No wonder no one will meet with you. 🙂

P.S. Here’s how it works for the For Profit world. Your Board Members will ‘get it’.
 

THE FOR PROFIT JUST ASK STRATEGY
(It’s SIMPLE, not easy.)

Get a VISIT …

NOT AN APPOINTMENT (THINK ‘Doctor/Dentist’!)

With a QUALIFIED PROSPECT/POTENTIAL INVESTOR …

NOT A SUSPECT (THINK ‘Crime’!)

To do DISCOVERY…

NOT TALK, TALK, TALK (THINK ‘Blah, Blah, Blah’!)

To SHARE THE STORY …

NOT MORE INFORMATION (THINK ‘Glazed Eyes’!)

To PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY …

NOT MAKE A ‘SALE’ (THINK ‘Used Cars’!)

SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER …

NOT FACE-TO-FACE, EYEBALL-TO-EYEBALL (THINK ‘Competition/Confrontation’!)

To PROVIDE A SOLUTION!!!

NOT SELL SOMETHING (THINK UGH!)

Nick’s Note: Just Ask



 

‘Just Ask’ the ACTION part of the For Impact message.

  • Through The Suddes Group, we’ve raised a lot of money. A big reason for this was because WE ASKED.
    So many times I’ve been on a visit with an executive director. We asked… the prospect (after some dialogue) said yes and the executive director then later said to me,

  • Just ask when timing is perfect.
  • Just ask when you know exactly what to ask for.
  • Just ask after you’ve visiting with the prospect nine times.
  • Just ask when you’re entire board is on board.
  • Just ask when those butterflies in your stomach are finally gone.
  • Just ask when you have the perfect message.
  • Just ask when you have the perfect materials.

It says, “Just Ask!”

  • Timing will never be perfect.
  • The only what you’ll know what to ask for is by asking (and getting a response).
  • You are in the business of saving, changing and impacting lives It’s not about nine visits. People cultivate because they can’t communicate!
  • Re: the board… just move… take action.
  • I still feel like I want to puke before a big ask….
  • The only way to truly test a message is to ASK.
  • Re: Materials, see my above point about message.

Just ASK is all about action.

It’s permission to move. Nothing happens until you ask!

Until you ask, (one-on-one), the message is not personal.
Until you ask, people don’t know how they can help.Until you ask, the prospect doesn’t guide you through what else is needed (from the message, from the org or plan) to make a commitment.
Until you ask, prospects can’t say YES!

Just Ask!
Always Ask.

This is 90% of everything you need to know about raising money.

The Controlling Insight – Just Ask


“The best way to have a GOOD IDEA is to have a lot of ideas.”
– Linus Pauling

 

“One great INSIGHT is worth a thousand good ideas.”
– Phil Dusenberry

 
Marcus Buckingham, in his wonderful book called THE ONE THING YOU NEED TO KNOW, talks about a ‘CONTROLLING INSIGHT’.

He says, “For a ‘CONCEPT’ to go to a ‘CONTROLLING INSIGHT’, it must:
1. Apply amongst a BROAD RANGE of SITUATIONS.
2. SERVE as MULTIPLIER!!!
3. GUIDE ACTION!!!”
I truly believe… with my heart and my head… that JUST ASK is a ‘CONTROLLING INSIGHT’.
1. It works (applies) to just about anything… anywhere.
2. It exponentially increases growth, sales, life.
3. It’s ALL about ACTION!

Number of Asks: The ONE Lever


In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explores the formation of organizational habits. (You can read this quick summary by BusinessWeek.) One case study examines Alcoa’s remarkable business turn-around in the 80’s/90’s. CEO Paul O’Neill focused the cultural energy (and habits) around safety–more specifically, around the number of safety violations.

We call this the ONE LEVER. Meaning, to maximize team cohesion and culture change you need to focus energy on ONE LEVER at a time to create organizational change.

What will that lever be? Be specific. Be clear.

The Orlando Magic focus on ‘butts in seats’.

FedEx focuses on number of packages that don’t arrive when promised (aiming for zero).

Just about everyone reading this is seeking some form or another of improved funding results.

Call it a culture of philanthropy.
Call it a sales culture.
Call it greater revenue for impact.
Call it funding the vision.

When you’re bringing your team along there is so much ‘other stuff’ that can obscure progress. Events, predisposition activities, reporting, deadlines, board meetings.

As it relates to INCOME DEVELOPMENT the ONE LEVER is – in most every case – the NUMBER OF ASKS.
This is what we emphasize, design-around, message, measure, reinforce.

Obviously a funding goal is pretty important. However that is a RESULT of this measurable activity. Similarly, Alcoa’s leap in quality (and then profits) was a RESULT of increased safety.

One lever: Number of Asks. Preach it. Measure it. It will be transformational. I promise.

Note: It’s not uncommon to see an organization (of any size) with fewer than 10 real-asks per quarter. In fact, it’s a safe bet that by our definition most are at ZERO.