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Nick’s Note: Marketing v. Sales

If you’ve seen Tom or I speak … or if you’ve been to a workshop then you’ve probably heard our rant about ‘No More Special Events.’

A bold few always want to challenge this position:

  • “But that’s how we build relationships.”
  • “But that’s how we generate awareness.”

No one ever says, “But that’s our CASH COW!”

The reasons most often heard in defending special events are really tied to MARKETING. Substitute the objections above with, “But that’s how we do our marketing!”

Interesting. And, OK. So that begs a question, what about your SALES?

Think about your development efforts in terms of MARKETING and SALES. Right now we don’t use those terms (Enough? At all?) Use MARKETING and SALES as a simple strategic framework. What IF we all agreed that the one big event was going to be the most incredible opportunity for us to tell our story? What if we didn’t pretend it made a ton of money?

If you’re going to keep your event – in the name of building relationships – then tell me what you’re going to be doing to MAXIMIZE RELATIONSHIPS.

If you decide to keep that event, then decide its purpose. If it’s to BUILD RELATIONSHIPS, then set out to make it the best at doing that … but don’t pretend it’s the centerpiece of your funding strategy.

MARKETING and SALES.
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS and MAXIMIZING RELATIONSHIPS.

A reminder: The best way to MAXIMIZE RELATIONSHIPS is 1:1.

And a question: What if we took that time, energy and effort spent on the event(s) and put that into getting great visits and providing customized experiences with our top 10 or 20 prospects?

It’s the function of marketing to produce qualified leads for sales. I can’t remember where I got this definition, but I favor it as it relates to our development efforts. Once you determine what efforts are marketing and what are sales, then you can ask, “How are we using this marketing effort to find qualified leads for sales?”

The Leap to Sales is Improved by Trial, Not Time

In general, organizations spend way too much TIME prepping for fundraising. We’ve seen organizations take TWO YEARS to create systems, hire the right people, put together plans.

Two years later, they’re ‘ready to start’. In that time they’ve made ZERO visits. As an organization, they’ve built a culture of ‘getting ready’… not making any visits.

Unfortunately, this never translates into action in the sales arena.

Sales is about speed. It’s about being in the field and modifying your way to perfection. It’s about ALWAYS growing/learning/building – as an individual and as an organization. Sales is about relationships. You don’t build relationships by planning. You build and maximize relationships by talking to people. As you COMMIT TO SALES we would urge you to ‘Engage. Then Plan!” in the words of Andy Grove.

Or, it it helps, give yourself TWO WEEKS to simplify your message and clarify your plan. Then start making visits. The only way to better the plan, get better at sales and (through both) raise a lot more money for your impact is through more TRIAL, not more TIME.

It shouldn’t take you two years to build momentum with a sales plan. It should take you 20 visits. Do the 20 visits… THEN build a model around what’s working. Oh, and as a bonus, you’ll actually HAVE FUNDS to help you build your model because you’ve been in the field selling along the way.

The Most Important Predictor of Sales Success

Since (as you know so well from reading this) YOU’RE IN SALES! (and, GET OVER IT) … I thought this message from Philip Delves Broughton was very, very interesting. Broughton is the author of THE ART OF THE SALE and writes for Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and others.

He writes that what most companies in sales training programs think really matters (in sales) is wrong.(!) He says that when training sales people, they tend to propose one of two things: A sales process with methods and tricks which can move you from prospecting to closing, or a set of behaviors and character traits supposedly typical of great salespeople and worth mimicking.

He and I both agree that these two things are important; but Broughton says neither approach gets to the most important predictor of sales success:

“If sales people think of what they do as at odds with who they are or what they want to achieve in life, they will fail.”

“If they are comfortable with it, they will thrive.”

“Nothing matters more in sales than how each sales person perceives his or her role,
and how the act of selling protects, inflates or undermines his or her sense of self.”

Here’s his bottom line:

“What enables a sales person to succeed is that they have found a MATCH between who they are and what they are being required to do.”

This is why ‘SELLING’ is so satisfying and so much fun in the FOR IMPACT WORLD!

OGs Note: Sales Nuggets from Frank Sullivan

These three nuggets come from Frank Sullivan, who was my first mentor and perhaps the best life insurance salesman in the world. A Trustee at Notre Dame and a very good friend, Frank wrote a book in 1970 called THE CRITICAL PATH TO SALES SUCCESS. I’m going to share some wonderful nuggets and gems from Frank’s book and his life.

Sales Nugget 1: Ask Everyone for $1 Million

“It’s easier to sell a $1 Million life insurance policy to a QUALIFIED PROSPECT than it is to sell a $10,000 policy to a relative with no money.”
- Frank Sullivan

One of the things I learned from Frank Sullivan very, very, very early in my development career was that it’s just as easy to sell $1 MILLION life insurance policy to a QUALIFIED PROSPECT … than it is to sell a $10,000 policy to a relative (with no money)!

That didn’t seem like much at the time. Over the years, it’s been HUGE!

There were a number of great tips and ideas Frank gave around this ‘lesson:’

  • Create a PROFILE of what your $1 Million prospect looks like.
  • You’ll never make a $1 Million ‘sale’ unless you ASK for $1 Million!!!
  • You must RATE all of your prospects so you can see who’s at the ‘top.’ (See our MASTER PROSPECT LIST.)

Some years later, while still at Notre Dame, a good friend and one of the most persevering (read ‘stubborn in a good way’) people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with was Tom Pilot. Tom took Frank’s “Million Dollar” philosophy to its highest level.

He simply ASKED (almost) EVERYONE for $1 MILLION. It’s amazing how many people said yes!!!

Sales Nugget 2: The 5 Steps on the ‘Critical Path to Sales Success’

Frank believed that there were five activities that every salesman must perform. In order of importance, they were:

  • ESTABLISH GOALS.
  • GET GOOD NAMES.
  • MAKE THE APPROACH.
  • MAKE THE PRESENTATION.
  • MAKE THE CUSTOMER A CLIENT.

Frank was a master at selling life insurance, which is certainly one of the most difficult
‘intangible product’ sales. (This is much like what we ‘sell’ … when we’re ‘selling’ a
cause … case … vision … impact … or solution.)

Although I have revised my ‘sales system’ many, many times over the years, I can still go back to Frank’s ‘five steps’ and tie much of what I’ve done back to those steps.

How are YOU doing in terms of establishing goals? Getting good names? Making the
approach? Making a presentation? And making the customer a client?

Sales Nugget 3: The Importance of Personal Goals

It may seem a little weird to talk about PERSONAL GOALS when you’re dealing with SALES or SALES GOALS. Frank Sullivan, however, was all about writing out ALL of his goals and plans … personal, financial, business, sales, etc.

Frank was literally the first person in my ‘business life’ (and, actually, one of the very few people) who talked about his personal life and his family and his own goals … as they related to his business and sales goals.

Frank ultimately came down with Alzheimer’s at the end of his life, but, by then, he had impacted so many people and left a huge legacy. These ideas of ‘personal goals’ and ‘family first’ was his GIFT to me. I am forever grateful.

Frank’s the one who first gave me the idea of ‘solo time’ with the kids. I turned it into BIRTHDAY BREAKFAST, where we actually went over their ‘favorite’ books, TV shows, friends, food, etc. … and then did their GOALS for the upcoming year. I tried to capture all of it in my journal/green book.

If you’ve never done ‘GOALS’ with a 3-year-old, you’ve really missed out!

Sales Attitude

Think about this absolutely ‘brilliant’ spot-on quote of W. Clement Stone:
“SALES are contingent on the ATTITUDE of the salesman – not the ATTITUDE of the PROSPECT.”
ATTITUDE has everything to do with the way you respond to ‘ISSUES’ … when you sit down to visit with a PROSPECT who:

  • Doesn’t know much about the organization.
  • Doesn’t understand why the organization needs money.
  • Questions if this is the ‘right time’ (economy) to be asking for money.
  • Folds their arms. They start off being totally unengaged. They pre-empt with a
    token gift or a blanket statement that they’re not giving to anyone right now.

IF you let the ATTITUDE of the PROSPECT dictate the flow and the outcome of the visit … you would end up with zero, nada, zilch.

But, when you let YOUR ATTITUDE (belief in the cause … clear understanding of the purpose and priorities … a masterful presentation of the plan) control the visit…
AMAZING THINGS HAPPEN.
W. Clement Stone says it all. (YOUR) ATTITUDE is everything!!!

It’s All About Sales

I know. It’s a ‘napkin’. It’s a ‘Guiding Principle’. It’s everywhere! But it’s also a big freakin’ lesson: Those who successfully achieve campaign success are driven by SALES.

3 questions to get you going:

  • Have you built a SALES CULTURE??? (Goals, Measurement, Tools, Resources)
  • Who is your SALES MANAGER??? (In Other Words, Who is the Sales Team Leader)
  • Who is on your SALES TEAM??? (Do they know it?)

You’re in Sales…Get Over It

We have worked with some really impactful organizations that, like many of you, came late to the idea that:

“God gives every bird food. He just doesn’t throw it into the nest!”

In ALL of our work with clients, speaking, training, etc. … one part of our MESSAGE is always the same:

NOTHING HAPPENS UNLESS YOU’RE OUT SELLING …YOUR VISION. YOUR IMPACT. YOUR MESSAGE. YOUR IDEAS. YOUR RETURN ON INVESTMENT. Etc., etc., etc.

All of you are deeply committed to your CAUSE and your ORGANIZATION.

Yet, none of you have been ‘TRAINED IN SALES!’

(You’re not alone. Even the Nation’s business schools provide no SALES TRAINING. Yet, in this ‘FOR PROFIT WORLD,’ SALES drives [almost] every company. Without it, all products and services remain ‘on the shelf.’)

I’ve spent my whole adult life in SALES, much of it selling ‘INTANGIBLES’ (large gifts/commitments for great causes and cases).

We are out ‘PRACTICING’ our craft/art every day.

Here are three really big things that may help you on your next VISIT/’SALES CALL:’

  • DISCOVERY
  • SHARE THE STORY PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY
  • AUTHENTICITY

ACTION:

  • Write this on a little card.
  • Look at this every time you go to visit/meet with a Qualified Prospect or Potential Investor.

THE SHORTHAND.

1. DISCOVERY.
Where’s the best place to find out ANYTHING you want to know about your INVESTOR/PROSPECT??? FROM THEM! Remember: SELLING IS NOT TELLING!ASK QUESTIONS. More importantly, LISTEN TO ANSWERS!

Here are three great questions to help you with your DISCOVERY.

  • WHY are you engaged/involved with us?
  • Which of these three things (buckets) is most important to you?
  • Can you help us Fund this Vision?

 

2. SHARE THE STORY –> PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY.
SHARE THE STORY is exactly that. SHARE. THE. STORY. Everybody in the organization can share THEIR ‘story.’You must also be able to capture the ‘STORY’ of your organization … your cause … your vision.

Then, PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY. This is NOT about ASKING PEOPLE FOR MONEY!!!

  • It’s about PRESENTING THE OPPORTUNITY for them to make an IMPACT!
  • To move from SUCCESS TO SIGNIFICANCE!
  • To SAVE LIVES. To CHANGE LIVES. To CHANGE THE WORLD!

 

Special Note: Ask your Board Members or Volunteer Leaders whether they’d rather go out and ‘ASK THEIR FRIENDS FOR MONEY’ …or SHARE THE STORY PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY

 

3. AUTHENTICITY.
First, this is about being YOURSELF! If you just started with the organization, say so; and then explain why you made that decision. If you spent 10 or 15 years working with your organization, explain WHY you devoted that kind of commitment to this cause. Additionally, AUTHENTICITY is about total candor. Sometimes even BRUTAL HONESTY. (“You’re one of our top investors. You helped us build this plan and we know you want to see it succeed. Can you take the LEAD?”) A great line that is about as AUTHENTIC as you can get. “I have one goal with you today: to have your jaw drop at the unbelievable impact that this organization is having on children. That’s it.”

For those of you out VISITING and PRESENTING … I hope you can use these simple but powerful reminders.

For the rest of you …
Get out of the office. (GO PRESENT OPPORTUNITIES.)
Stop doing research. (DO DISCOVERY … ON THE VISIT.)
Stop doing proposals and grant writing. (GO SHARE THE STORY AND PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY.)

Nick’s Note: 9 Big Board Questions

I’ve been a part of dozens of board retreats (leader/observer participant), meetings and planning sessions in the last few years. A traditional strategic planning session lays out goals and actions but often fails to ask some really big driving questions.

WHAT IF… we asked these questions?

  • What is our purpose or raison d’être? This is different from mission – which should be the same thing but usually ends up being more about ‘place in the world’ vs. purpose. Raison d’être literally means REASON FOR EXISTENCE. It’s the WHY question. If you can’t answer WHY, then WHAT and HOW are irrelevant.
  • How can we (intentionally) go out of business? Is this for the short term (1000 days) or long term (50+ years). You exist to change lives, save lives or transform lives. How often do we re-examine our activities and ask, “Can we find a SOLUTION?” I started to qualify this question – to say that it might not apply to some organizations such as schools. Then, I withdrew my qualification. Ask it anyway; see where the conversation takes you. Education is changing.
  • What would you do with $10M or $100M? Or pick a number that is a factor of 10x higher than anything you’re thinking about now. I recently attended a board retreat as a Board Member
    for Road of Life Cancer Prevention For Kids. With $100M, one board Member said she would get laws changed to make health education mandatory at an earlier age and another said we should invest in longitudinal studies to understand how health prevention impacts kids.Those are two VERY DIFFERENT priorities and we aren’t doing either right now. Ultimately, the question helped to build consensus around focusing on EDUCATION. Until the question was asked, every debate was about incremental tactics, not Vision or even, I would argue, Strategy.
  • What Strategic Partnerships can we pursue? You have finance committees, development committees, marketing committees, campaign committees. If anything, I would like to see a partnership committee. Better yet, just a commitment to partnerships as a core priority (DNA) of the organization. I haven’t seen the numbers in a while but there are somewhere in excess of 2 million nonprofits and many more socially focused businesses (all For Impact). Current structures and strategic planning questions focus on bloat, not partnerships. We’re all trying to make a difference, so let’s make a commitment (financial resources) to exploring this full time.
  • How can we scale our Impact? Simple and open-ended… but not asked enough.
  • What are we best in the world at? Jim Collins has made this conversation prevalent in the last few years (revisiting the Hedgehog Concept). It’s ultimately a question of priorities and focus. Consider finding the one thing you do very well and FOCUS on that. I can’t tell you how important this discussion is for your staff. It helps them make decisions about grants, programs, staffing, etc. Equally important is identifying those things that you’re not good at. Side note: I am a big Marcus Buckingam believer. He tells you to focus on your strengths. [Our strength at For Impact is live training, facilitating and coaching. We’re focusing on ways to do more of that.]
  • Should we grow ‘wider’ or ‘deeper’? It’s a Scope of Services question. Ultimately a lot of ’strategic planning’ comes down to this question. Do we add more depth to our current programs (make them longer, more available, etc)? Or, do we expand our scope of services (diverse offerings, expanded continuum, etc.)? Refer back to question six to help you frame this debate.
  • How much money do we need to achieve our vision? What usually happens: we spend time tweaking funding goals based on last year’s results. It would be of huge value [to everyone] if
    we knew how much money we really needed to accomplish our Vision (annually or over time via a campaign initiative). Reflecting on this, I would say that this question is often asked in preparation for a campaign but it is not asked in relation to our operation (annual). Why not? Instead, we set a number and then allocate it (budget)… every year.
  • What is our business model? What business are we in? I think this goes along with several other questions and relates to strengths, focus and priorities. It also adds clarity and could even become part of your message.

I think these questions would also SOLVE a lot of the problems I hear about every day:

  • Board Engagement/Staff Communication: It works both ways.
  • Board Meetings: If we’re on board about the big stuff it raises
    the level of the conversation. I think a lot of the comments
    I hear about Board Members being too detail focused or
    staff members seeming unfocused is resolved when we can
    communicate about and focus on the big picture.
  • The Proverbial Rat Race: Incremental thinking gets
    incremental results (some times).

OG’s Note: On Campaign Chairs

I founded The Suddes Group in 1983. My very first ‘client’ was an amazing 100-year-old Catholic High School in the Chicago area. At the time, I was using pretty much everything I had learned at Notre Dame on THE CAMPAIGN for NOTRE DAME.

The model at the time was to have a CAMPAIGN CHAIR. The absolute best candidate for that was an alum who happened to be a Chairman of (at that time) one of the largest retail operations in the United States with a huge ‘Tower’ in downtown Chicago. We got our 20 minutes on the 44th floor. Showed the Plan and Structure. Told him we needed him to do “These 6 Things” (none of which were about taking personal responsibility for raising all the money).

He said, “I can do everything but this one.” I took my pen and put a line through #4. I don’t even remember what it was. I asked him if he could do it now. He said, “Yes.” It was huge.

Nick’s Note: Killing off Campaign Commitees

Nick’s Note: Killing off Campaign Commitees

(THE MESSAGE AND MEETINGS, NOT THE PEOPLE)
by Nick Fellers

Here’s a story about an organization that was having a hard time getting leadership engaged and ‘on board’ through a Campaign Committee / Chair Structure.

A youth-serving organization in the Midwest started a campaign two years ago – then put on the brakes. It couldn’t find a ‘Capital Campaign Committee Chairperson’.

The description for this ‘Capital Campaign Committee Chair’ was four pages in length. It included things like (and we’re not making this up):

[First line of the description:] Acceptance of the Capital Campaign’s financial goal by the General Chairperson represents his/her commitment to raise this goal for this Campaign.

This person should make a lead or the lead commitment for the Campaign.

The Chairperson is responsible for achieving the Campaign Funding Goal. [Yes, essentially this is stated twice.]

The Chairperson is responsible for identifying, recruiting and soliciting other members of the Campaign Committee.

The four pages did have other filler that wasn’t as harsh, but…The message? The Capital Campaign Committee Chairperson basically has to do the whole Campaign… devote the next two years to focusing
on Income, no Impact… he’s on his own… except he’s not because he’s going to sell others to come along for the ride.

OBVIOUSLY no one in his or her right mind would sign onto this. it’s no wonder this organization was having trouble finding a chair. The description above probably works (but not because of the description) when there is one clear and strong leader that STARTED the Campaign Effort… that’s LEADING the Campaign Effort… from day one…. As in, it was HIS or HER idea. For the other 98% of Campaigns, it’s completely unrealistic and completely off-putting.

Prior to putting on the brakes, the organization profiled had asked eight people to be the Chair – without success. All eight have expressed STRONG enthusiasm for the Vision, the Case and the Project.

So here’s what we did.

We scrapped the Capital Campaign Committee all together.

‘Capital Campaign’ tells a story about a building. The building is a means to an end. ‘Committee’ connotes committee. Ugh.

What we really need is LEADERSHIP – so that the community OWNS the project – not the nonprofit development team. We also need CHAMPIONS – people that will help us make the vision a reality.

Instead of a Campaign Committee, we’re identifying ‘Ambassadors for the Children of [CITY]’. We’re focusing on ten great ambassadors who can help us Advance the Vision by doing three things (that match our Champion/Invite/Invest strategy).

  • Be a Voice – For the Children. [CHAMPION]
    2 out of 4 children in this city’s metro area live below the poverty level. Many are on a path to gangs and unemployment. This is all in an affluent city where people would probably guess the
    numbers to be much lower.We’re asking the Ambassadors first and foremost to lend their name and endorsement to the Vision, the Mission and Project.
  • Help us Share the Story [Invite]
    When people come down to our existing neighborhood center it takes about ten minutes of walking THROUGH the story before they ask us, “How can I help?” We’re reinforcing to our Ambassadors that the story illustrates itself… but we need their help by bringing people TO the story.We even note that in doing this, it’s all about ‘Sharing the Story’ and not about asking their friends for money. We have a well equipped staff with a killer process if someone is moved by the Impact.
  • Invest with a Commensurate Commitment
    It’s also important to note that we are not dodgy or coy about needing help. Instead of building out meetings we’re focused on building and leading a movement in the community – with the help of these 10 voices. And, we pretty much explain this thinking to them in the same way.We’re not focusing on ‘the group’ but instead on individuals that comprise the group. We’re only holding 1-2 gatherings per year for formal group updates about the Impact and Income. Otherwise, accountability is specific for each individual most months as needed. Notably, we ARE putting in place a ‘Lead Ambassador’ – someone who can help rally the troops!

Though we’re just rolling this out at this organization, we’ve used the same strategy with great success on other ‘Campaigns’/Funding Initiatives.

Community leaders want to help. They want to be Champions for your Vision. They want to make the Impact happen. They will even invest in the Impact and help to get others investing in the Impact.

This enthusiasm is muted (maybe killed?) when it becomes all about signing in blood to be a ‘Capital Campaign Committee Chairperson’ (or member).

Call to Action

IF IT WERE ME… I WOULD:

  • Figure out who were MY C.P.A.’s… and then work directly with them!
  • Recruit more women, entrepreneurs and small business owners who get stuff done.
  • Hold my next Board ‘Memorable Xperience’ either where you deliver your service/solutions… or a really, really cool place that sparks ideas, creativity and innovation. (e.g. the zoo or children’s museum).
  • Change the Framework of the Board ‘Gatherings’ (meetings) and focus on Altitude and Impact and Feedback.
  • Share the CHANGE IN VOCABULARY as a means of creating great conversation/dialogue on WHY you exist, WHAT you do, and HOW you deliver on your premise (Mission, Vision).
  • Spend the entire next Board session talking about the ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES of the Board, summarized on a card (Addendum).
  • And, perhaps most importantly, I would restructure my entire schedule in order to have one-on-one VISITS with each member of the Board to go over their ROLE and how they can best HELP!

*I would also share this For Impact Guide with everyone on my Board.

Board Member Challenge

If you are ‘uncomfortable’ sharing this Guide with your current Board Members… that would seem to signify a BIG problem.

If you are sharing this with your Board, we would like to encourage those individual CHAMPIONS and PASSIONATE ADVOCATES to do these 3 things:

  • Bring Your Leadership Skills! Bring your entrepreneurial, sales, business and community skills and talents to the proverbial table! If something doesn’t make sense, don’t ‘cop out’ by saying, “This is a ‘Not-for-Profit’. It must be okay.” 

    “Leaders Lead”: My friend Bob Werner’s words. My emphasis. (Bob is a big-time Mensch and Jewish philanthropic superstar.) SUCCESS for any For Impact Organization is a direct result of LEADERS LEADING! Passion and commitment from LEADERSHIP will overcome all obstacles.

  • Ask A Lot Of Questions! As long as you are a CHAMPION and truly believe in the Cause and the Case, your questions are important and valuable… and should be dealt with/answered.
  • Challenge The Staff’s Thinking! The staff is committed, competent and also Champions for the Cause. However, they are usually singularly focused on the Mission/Solution and delivering the Impact. They rarely have a business background. Few have any true entrepreneurial experience. And none have ever been trained in sales. Staff should be looking to you (Board Members) for some out-of-the-box thinking and some great ideas around funding, revenue streams, sales and more. Give it to them.