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Start the New Year on a “HIGH”

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

Our most used frameworks is the Altitude Framework – Used to order thinking, communications, and storylines; to develop Engagement Tools; and, to think through the Flow of a Visit.

This framework is used for everything from visits to strategy sessions to dealing with objections. However, it’s best use is COMMUNICATION and SIMPLIFICATION of your message.

30,000′ is an airplane’s cruising altitude – plenty of blue sky, a great view, etc. At 30,000′, our brain even seems to work better!

At this altitude, it’s all about your vision, your aspirations, your raison d’etre. It’s a place to think and talk about your mission, your meaning, your values.

At 30,000’ leaders and visionaries have the ability to see the horizon. Obviously, you can’t do that from 3’. At 30,000’ you can see the curve of the earth, the rising and setting of the sun. The perspective at 30,000’ is unmatched. This is where you can think about making a “dent in the universe” and communicate how you are CHANGING THE WORLD!

Use this framing device to think and answer some questions at 30,000’:

  • Why do you what you do – To what end?
  • What is your raison d’etre (or reason for existence?)
  • What are you best in the world at?
  • What would you do with $1M or $10M (or X times your current operating budget?)
  • What makes you unique or how are you collaborating to solve a big social problem?
  • What gets you really fired up in the morning? (About your impact!)

Use the answers to these questions to develop your Message at 30,000’ – Your big picture purpose statement, the meaning of your work – Something we call the Blue Box Message.

“The Blue Box”:

  • Represents the starting point for everything
  • Frames a conversation at the highest level
  • Is simple (not full of fancy prose)
  • Is articulated clearly, concisely and compellingly

Here are some examples of great Blue Box Messages:

Changing the lives of the visually impaired worldwide.

Transforming the aging experience.

To provide the finest liberal arts education in the country.

Breaking the circle of poverty by changing the system.

Transforming Columbus: Inspiring the entrepreneurs of the future.

Strong Healthy Kids, Strong Healthy Families, Strong Healthy Communities.

We provide the opportunity for disadvantaged women and children to transform their lives.

We want safe water for EVERYONE FOREVER.

To make reading matter and change the story for low-income students and families in San Diego County.

Redefine Interprofessional Education. Redefine Healthcare Delivery. For Better Patient Health Outcomes.

Join us tomorrow for more on Simplifying your Message.



“The single most important lesson I learned in 25 years, talking every single day to people, was that there’s a common denominator in our human experience:

We want to be validated. We want to be understood.

They all want to know: “Did you hear me? Did you see me?
Did what I said mean anything to you?’”

– Oprah Winfrey


NCIS. Gibbs Rule 28: ASK

Leroy Jethro Gibbs of NCIS fame* has Rules. Here’s the one he used with Bishop.

“Rule 28: When you need help, ASK.”

Add this one to some of my favorite quotes about Asking:

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

– The Bible

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

“Just ASK.”
– Suddes

*Your pop culture reference for the day.


2016 Boot Camp Dates: San Diego and Colorado Registration Open!

Our first dates for 2016 Boot Camps are available! Join us on March 1-2 in San Diego and May 17-18 in Larkspur, CO (just outside of Denver.)

The For Impact Boot Camp is focused on frameworks and skill building – You will leave with the knowledge you need to simplify your message and funding rationale, and take your organization to the next level.

This high-energy, day-and-a-half session covers topics like:

  • How to execute against a sales process (for major gifts, campaign gifts, transformational gifts, etc.)
  • How to build and maximize relationships
  • How to build and lead an effective team
  • How to ask, close, and follow-up

The Boot Camp is perfect for organizational alums, new hires, or anyone looking to hone individual skills – both personal and professional!

Early bird pricing is available for both sessions. Discounts are also available for Alumni Organizations and teams with 4 or more participants.


How to run a Sales Meeting using a Sales Dashboard

Reposting this nugget based on several recent coaching calls about ‘Activity vs. Productivity’ and Sales Team FOCUS.

Here is a format we use for Sales Meetings – a weekly review of activities from the Sales Team.

  • Update on activity:
    • Number of visits
    • Number of asks
  • Update on productivity:
    • Number of commits / declines
    • $$ Committed

These metrics provide an objective dashboard that speaks volumes.

  • “What gets measured gets done.” – Tom Suddes

    It’s very easy to get sidetracked. Make it very clear, for yourself and for your sales team, that the first measurement will be number of times we got out of the office to go visit with people. Even without the perfect materials, we know this will have a tremendous positive impact on your organization.

  • The dashboard creates accountability.

    Following on the first point, if you’re a manager you can set goals with your team around number of visits/asks. This ties back to accountability and performance.

  • The dashboard points to what’s working and what’s not.

    Two months ago I was working with an organization that was making 15 visits per week. It was logging only a few ‘commitments’ and no ‘declines.’ We were able to zero in on this and it turned out the staff wasn’t really asking – if you’re asking, you’re going to have some declines! Instead, they were walking through the numbers and ‘hoping’ the prospect would select to give. We did another training session around ‘the last three feet’ of the visit and the numbers then improved.

    This is a pretty important point. You can deal with real issues as they arise – instead of planning and planning for months/years with no activity.

After the numbers we then review:

  • Status of Top Ten Prospects on the Master Prospect List
  • Specific ‘Pending Strategies’ that need attention
  • Strategies for the upcoming week

Announcing For Impact Fellowships

The Suddes Group creates and drives the levers behind the most important causes of our lifetime, including health-care transformation, community resilience, education, workforce development, equality, and justice.

The For Impact Fellowship is a paid post-graduate employment program (with both 1 and 2-year opportunities) to develop leaders for the social sector.

Fellows will be based out of our Columbus, OH or Colorado Springs, CO offices. They will work ‘in-the-field’ organizing and managing funding campaigns while also developing a career pathway, connections and priceless experience in the areas of leadership, fundraising and organizational development.

More details will be announced in the coming weeks. If you know someone that might be interested – contact to receive application details when they become available.


10 Action Steps to Help You Engage in 2016

*Warning: It’s pretty easy to run down this list and blow off a number of these with a “We’ve already got this/done this” attitude. I encourage you to take a look at the resources we’ve provided below and create an Action Plan for 2016.

Here are 10 Action Steps, to help you ENGAGE:


Teleseminar: How to Make Your Story Awesome

Teleseminar: How to Make Your Story Awesome
Tuesday, December 15. 12:00-12:45ET
Free for first 50 registrants.

The story you use to maximize funding…
The story that brings rockstar talent to your doorstep and fully engages your team…
The story that you tell yourself every day to stay focused and fulfilled.

Story adds passion, purpose and urgency to your message, plan and every day actions.

  • Is your story about needing more money? Or changing lives?
  • Do you have a good story that helps get to the ask?
  • Do we have a story that engages the board? Engaging them as passionate champions and advocates?

This 45 minute teleseminar will:

  • Share examples of stories used at organizations to help them with these questions.
  • Address common challenges to funding, action and engagement.
  • Give you several actionable tools use can use to DISCOVER your story and make it AWESOME.

Make a BIG DEAL out of everything you do.

“The best advice I can give you is: make a BIG DEAL out of everything you do.”
– Frank E. Sullivan

That’s the WOW!!!

Note: We frequently do training/speaking for audiences outside the social sector. The ideas of impact, sales, and purpose are universal. I found this quote on the cover a workbook Tom prepared in 1999 for the Indiana Life Underwriters.

Frank Sullivan was a successful life insurance salesperson. He was one of Tom’s early mentors and authored a gem of a sales book, The Critical Path to Sales Success.


Set Your Goals for Engagement!

Set your 2016 Goals for Engagement now! These goals need to be SPECIFIC, WRITTEN and MEASURABLE.

Here are 3 Examples:

  • The ‘33 GIFTS’ Plan

    We will ENGAGE with our TOP 50 PROSPECTS in order to generate 33 COMMITMENTS, which will provide 90% of our funding needs!


    E.g. We will generate $1 Million from:

    1 Gift of $200,000
    2 Gifts of $100,000
    4 Gifts of $50,000
    10 Gifts of $20,000
    16 Gifts of $10,000+
    33 Totaling $1 Million

    Note: Need $5M? Multiply the right column by 5. (Or 4 for $4M and so on.)


  • The ‘Spartan 300’ Plan

    We will ENGAGE with our BEST 300 prospects (including our Top 33), which will generate buckets of money to Fund Our Vision.

    E.g. We have 3 members of our SALES TEAM, and we will collectively make 30 VISITS ENGAGEMENTS a month for 10 months (using August and December for R&R).

    We will use a 3x3x3 goal which challenges us to collectively make 3 visits a day, 3 days a week, 3 weeks out of the month.

    Note: If you have one member of your sales team, divide this goal accordingly: The ‘Spartan 100’ plan!


  • The ‘1,000 ENGAGEMENT’ Plan

    As a larger For Impact organization with 6 committed Relationship Managers, we will make 1,000 VISITS/PRESENTATIONS this year.

    Each of our 6 Relationship Managers will have a Portfolio of 300 Qualified Prospects. Each of us will make 167 VISITS/PRESENTATIONS (ENGAGEMENTS) this year.

    We will average 15 QUALITY VISITS a month and do all of the appropriate preparation, predisposition and follow-up.

    We will do ‘DISCOVERY’ on every visit and with every prospect. We also commit to make the FULL PRESENTATION around the TRIPLE ASK for TODAY, TOMORROW and FOREVER (Annual Operations, Campaign Priorities and a Legacy/Planned Gift.)

    *20% of these 167 visits will become our TOP 33 gifts for each Relationship Manager.


Sales Attitude: How to think about December

“Should we plan on doing fewer visits with prospects this month, because of the holidays?”


“Should we keep pushing because people give at year’s end?”

We get a lot of questions about this every year and our coaching advice is always the same: Keep working your list.

It’s a great time to be engaging (1:1) with your prospects/relationships:

  • If they can’t meet due to the holidays, you can setup a time to connect in early January. Better to do that now than to come back to the office and call – at which time everyone would say, “I’m just getting re-oriented from the holidays. Get back with me in a few weeks.”
  • In my experience, for every person or family that can’t meet now, there is another for whom there will be no better time to meet. Some of my best visits + asks have been in December.

Whatever you do – don’t make excuses for not making visits.