Discovery is never THE goal for a visit.
When I hear, “It’s just a discovery visit” or, “We’re only meeting to do discovery,” I cringe. To me this is like saying, “We’re just getting together to be authentic.”
Discovery is part of our presentation framework. It’s something we do (ALWAYS).
It’s not THE goal.
To be clear, often we visit and do discovery – with no ask. But that’s not the goal. The goal is to maximize the relationship at this given moment! The goal is to engage around our impact with such passion, energy and enthusiasm that the person says, “Wow!!! GREAT!!! HOW CAN I HELP?!?!”
You would never reply, “It’s great that you want to help! Thank you! But today I am only here to do discovery. Yes, there are lives we could be saving, changing or impacting with your immediate help but, you see… I’m only here to do discovery!”
“It’s just a discovery visit” is incompatible with the For Impact Point of View: we shouldn’t be doing this work (the programs, the fundraising… any of it) if we aren’t having an IMPACT, if we aren’t changing, saving or impacting lives.
Last week we were with the New Jersey AFP at its annual Conference on Philanthropy. The conference theme was STORY – something we at The Suddes Group are pretty passionate about!
My basic message:
- STORY is a point of view. It’s how we choose to interpret (or assign meaning to) facts. Most people talk about STORIES, not STORY. Stories are the narrative that follows the POINT OF VIEW.
- The FOR IMPACT POINT OF VIEW: IMPACT DRIVES INCOME.
- IMPLICATION of IMPACT DRIVES INCOME: If we get this it challenges almost everything happening in traditional fundraising.
Here are the keynote slides.
My thanks and kudos to the NJ AFP leadership. We speak at conferences all over the world and this was one of the best programmed and organized gatherings I can remember.
I was reading an article about #1 Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney – He’s a good, young coach full of pithy aphorisms.
I never thought I would be quoting a Clemson coach (!) but want to credit him with B.Y.O.E.
“B.Y.O.E. BRING YOUR OWN ENERGY.” Swinney
“B.Y.O.E. BRING YOUR OWN ENTHUSIASM.” Suddes
Think about this! If you don’t bring it, no one else will.
B.Y.O.E. at your board meetings.
B.Y.O.E. at all your visits and presentations.
B.Y.O.E. with your team/staff.
Again, if you don’t bring it, who will?
Here’s a simple question: Would Apple or Microsoft or Starbucks (or any other company) ask ‘VOLUNTEERS’ to do their ‘SALES’?
Just the idea of the word ‘SOLICITATION’ (the implication of which I cannot go into in a PG-13 document), should be enough to make you give up on this 1950’s “Peer-To-Peer Solicitation” model!
Instead, a PROFESSIONAL PRESENTATION involves PROFESSIONAL STAFF engaged in CONVERSATION and DIALOGUE with a goal of MAXIMIZING THE RELATIONSHIP! It’s a PROFESSIONAL PERFORMANCE with PROFESSIONAL FOLLOW-UP.
Note: In the Old Model, a typical ‘ask’ by a peer (to a peer) goes “I have your (3 x 5) card. Can you give something? Just send it in.” WOW! Clear. Concise. Compelling. (NOT!)
Here are 7 pretty solid reasons not to use VOLUNTEERS to make SOLO SOLICITATIONS:
- DESIRE, ENTHUSIASM, PERSISTENCE. How many of your volunteers really, really, really like to ask a friend for money? If presented as such, these volunteers lack key ingredients for sales success: ENTHUSIASM and PERSISTENCE. It is professional staff’s mission and responsibility to Present The Opportunity to Qualified Prospects.
- TRADING DOLLARS. Every volunteer knows that whenever they ask one of their friends/peers for money, they will soon be asked back for that person’s favorite cause. This system of ‘trading dollars’ certainly does not allow for aggressively MAXIMIZING RELATIONSHIPS. Professional staff are objective, fair and committed to helping their prospective investor feel great about their commitment.
- TIME. Volunteers basically have none. Their other business priorities and family obligations make it very difficult to fulfill volunteer duties. Professional staff, on the other hand, are focused and dedicated to Presenting The Opportunity to as many Qualified Prospects AS POSSIBLE.
- ACCOUNTABILITY & FOLLOW-UP. With a volunteer, there isn’t any! “I saw so and so at a party, and I think they might do something.” Even if they make a visit or accompany on a visit, they will not think about following up and assuring their commitment. Professional staff do a memo for the record on every visit. They send a great follow-up letter summarizing the visit and the opportunity. They make a phone call on a specific date to determine the level of commitment and finalize the details with the investor.
- TRAINING. Most volunteers have not been trained in how to make this kind of presentation. Many don’t understand sales, the sales process, presentation flow and framework. Even for our most incredible champions, very few have the time to become properly knowledgeable about the institution/organization and the investment opportunities available. Professional staff should be well trained. They know as much as they need to know about the organization. They are involved in ongoing professional and personal development. They understand that success is a combination of ATTITUDE and SKILL.
- PREPARATION. Even with the best of volunteers, asking their assistant for directions on the way out the door is their idea of preparing for the call. Professional staff go over the Knowledge Base Worksheet, Relationship Strategy Checklist, the Visit Checklist, and have a goal for every visit.
- THE VISIT ITSELF. Most volunteers begin with “How’s your family?” or “How’s your golf game?” Then move to “I got your 3×5 card.” “They want money.” “Do what you can.” When faced with a question, a challenge, or an objection, most volunteers retreat immediately. Great development and For Impact professionals know the Framework and Flow of the visit. They know how to ask questions and listen. They respond to investors’ feelings and react with creativity and flexibility. They deal with challenges and most importantly, they ask!
Special, Special Note: This is not a ‘bash the volunteer‘ list. Rather, it’s an attempt to help you re-think and re-invent the role of your VOLUNTEER LEADERS.
Volunteer Leaders, Board Members and Current Investors are all a huge part of the TEAM SELLING process. GREAT VOLUNTEER LEADERS and GREAT BOARD MEMBERS are literally worth their weight in gold. They should be used before, during and after the VISIT but, they should never be used ALONE!
*Interesting: The word ‘voluntary’ is defined as: ‘organ solo played in church before, during or after a service.’
“Change is the end result of all true learning.”
– Leo Buscaglia
The original For Impact Change in Vocabulary is one of our most popular Frameworks. We’ve put together even more vocabulary to help with your new thinking – Read and share!
In case you haven’t noticed we spend quite bit of time helping our For Impact tribe get out of the office – doing more VISITS and making more ASKS.
So what happens AFTER the visit?
When implementing a SALES process and SALES approach to funding, there are three equal parts to every visit/ask: Predispose, Present, Follow up.
These 7 points about Follow Up have a wide application – And can help you immensely in making things happen AFTER the visit:
- The 24-Hour Rule
We need to get out our follow-up emails/letters within 24 hours – no matter what. If we wait to write the perfect proposal or pitch, with time, it (1) takes more effort and (2) we lose momentum. I’ll take 80% perfect at 24 hours over 90% perfect in three weeks.
Speed doesn’t kill… time does.
- It’s a RELATIONSHIP
The goal is to maximize the RELATIONSHIP at this given moment. Funding is a function of the relationship – not the world’s best proposal. Think more about communication and follow-up in terms of a relationship and not a transaction – this will help with #1.
- Re: Referrals – think about ONE ACTION item and a manageable timeline.
It’s great that prospects are saying they’re going to open doors. Focus on ONE action and make it happen. “We’re all about momentum and everyone is busy. To keep the ball rolling, can we talk about making one phone call in the next two weeks?”
One action will lead to more. Undefined action leads to no action.
- “Can you get me a proposal?”
If someone asks this we need to simplify on the spot – “Sure thing… are you an email person?” (Everyone is.) “Would it be okay if I summarized our conversation in bullet point form and shot that back by email?”
Save yourself HOURS by converting ‘proposals’ to ‘bullet points.’
- The ball is always in your court.
We’re getting a lot of great ‘pending requests.’ If someone says, “give me a few days and I’ll get back to you.” We need to say, “That’s great. If I don’t hear from you by Friday, I’ll follow-up on Monday.”
Email is for follow-up notes. Use the phone to make things happen.
Be a closer. Always.
It’s an attitude. Your ability to close translates to lives saved, impacted and transformed. This isn’t about some ‘business jargon’… it’s about real stuff… important stuff. We either believe it or we don’t. And, if we do, then we need to close. If we don’t – let’s quit now.
Today is the day to remember the sacrifice and contribution of all who served in the military.
Every day should be used to thank veterans for keeping our country free and safe.
If you have a chance, thank a military person today. Better yet, see if you can hire a recent veteran.
One-third of all ‘homeless’ are military vets. If you can help them through your local shelter, do so. If you don’t know where to help, I’d recommend supporting Chris Megison at Solutions for Change, a For Impact org leading the way in solving this problem.
While it’s a nice gesture to say to our current military, “Thank you for your service” … what really needs to be done is to help them with the TRANSITION from military to a career and family and a new life.
If you are in a position to do so … most are extremely talented, committed leaders … help them to begin their post-military life.
Many of these returning vets would make great TALENT in the For Impact world … as executives, teachers, program leaders, sales and development staff and much more.
Note: My dad was a Marine in World War II, serving in the Pacific and engaged in many of the ‘Battle Islands’. My brother Mike is a Marine (no ex-Marines), and flew helicopters during his time in service.
I spent my tour (after Notre Dame) as an Infantry Officer at Fort Benning, Georgia. (Missed Vietnam by one class of Infantry Officer Basic Course Graduates. Luck of the draw.) I went through Airborne and Pathfinder, jumped out of planes and helicopters, and was one of the few ROTC Graduates to become a Tactical Officer at O.C.S. (Officer Candidate School). From a leadership/lessons learned perspective, hard to match what Army Infantry provided. Still with me 45 years later.
In September of 1953, Walt Disney was sending his brother Roy to meet with bankers in New York. Roy was going to be seeking financing for a new concept: Disneyland. At the time, Disney had cartoons but no theme parks, which is hard to imagine in the present day.
As the story is told, Walt called in an imagineer named Herb Ryman and said, “You know bankers don’t have any imagination, none at all. You have to show them what you’re going to do.” He then asked Herb to help him create a mock-up of Disneyland on a large storyboard. It was a splendid painting that even included black light paint so that you could see what Disneyland would look like at night.
This story comes from Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind-the-Dreams Look at Making the Magic Real. The book includes pictures of the storyboard.
Part of our For Impact story has been the invention of THE ENGAGEMENT TOOL. This one-page presentation flow, at altitude, has become an absolutely indispensable part of our client and coaching success.
Always look for ways to SHOW what you’re going to do. Use Engagement Tools. Banker or not, there is a big difference between talking your way through something and showing your way through something. A Engagement Tool worked for Walt and Roy Disney and it will work for you.
“If you want to catch a fish, first learn to think like a fish.”
– The Maori of New Zealand
“LOSERS MEET. WINNERS DO.”
That’s James Carville’s typically blunt, hit you between the eyes, challenge.
He goes on to say that, “Absent a major peace negotiation, complicated merger or complex legal settlement, there’s no reason on earth to have a meeting last more 30 MINUTES.”
After 40+ years in the ‘business world’, I never want to attend another meeting in my life. I believe this is also true of every other meeting attendee (excluding the meeting planner or boss who is holding the meeting.)
I wish I had a magic alternative. I’d love to see more ‘GATHERINGS’ of the right people at the right time on the right subject – to brainstorm or reevaluate or correct the course. (Imagine what life would be like without ‘meetings’, but where you ‘GATHERED’ together in a fun, productive session with real results.)
Read Pixar’s Braintrust for another great option.
A meeting, by the way, is not a place to INFORM! If you want to share information, write it down and get it out in a one-pager. If you’re going to ‘gather’ for actionable results, then people need to be engaged and involved in the session – not listening to one person ramble with no purpose.
I’d also love to see more opportunities for CELEBRATIONS of accomplishments and success (rather than just ‘talking’ about what we’re going to do).
P.S. If you really, really want a PRODUCTIVE session, either STAND or go for a WALK!
In the early 1900s, two shoe salesmen were sent to a remote village to see if there was an opportunity to sell shoes. The wrote back in telegrams:
Salesman #1: “10,000 natives. Stop. Situation hopeless! Stop. No one wears shoes. Stop.”
Salesman #2: “10,000 natives. Stop. Glorious Opportunity! Stop. No one here wears shoes! Stop.”
Question, which of these two stories is true? Answer, both.
The point? You have control over the story. You have the power to choose your story.
Further, as a leader, if you don’t choose the best possible story, then who will?