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Tom Suddes ‘OLD GUY’ riffing on CAMPAIGNS, LESSONS, THE MODEL and more.

Tom Suddes ‘OLD GUY’ riffing on CAMPAIGNS, LESSONS, THE MODEL and more.

(Recorded by Tom Suddes)

Take a Quantum Leap

Take a Quantum Leap

(Recorded by Tom Suddes)
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On Prospects

On Prospects

(Recorded by Tom Suddes)
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How to Ask!

How to Ask!

This seminar covers over 20 PHRASES and QUESTIONS we share in our workshops and boot camps. It’s intended to provide very practical nuts-and-bolts examples to help you visualize HOW to ask, whether you’re with a new prospect, board member, or long-time supporter who needs to step up. (Recorded December 17, 2013, Nick Fellers)

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20 Closes

20 Closes

Closes Covered In This Audio

  • 0:00 Greeting
  • 2:08 The Clueless Close
  • 3:37 The Listening Close
  • 6:29 The Higher Level Close
  • 9:56 The Qualifying Close
  • 15:26 The Math Close
  • 19:05 Conversations To Have With Your Board
  • 25:17 The Binary Close
  • 27:37 Holy Audacity
  • 32:39 The Permission Close
  • 34:54 The Goonies Close
  • 38:35 Top Of The Mountain Close
  • 40:59 The Predisposition Close
  • 43:14 The Action Forcing Event
  • 47:14 Practice Close
  • 50:41 The Handful Of People Close
  • 58:15 The Self-fulfilling Prophesy Close
  • 1:00:33 The Momentum Close
  • 1:06:54 Handling Objections
  • 1:14:17 The Transformational Close
  • 1:16:44 Wrap-Up

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No More Major Gift Officers

No More Major Gift Officers

Don’t freak out! If you ARE a Major Gift Officer … or have just HIRED a Major Gift Officer … or HAVE multiple Major Gift Officers … THAT’S GREAT!!!

What I’m strongly urging you to do is to CHANGE THEIR TITLE!!!

  • It’s soooooo development-y and fundraise-y!
  • It’s such an insider’s word.

We should wear a sandwich board that says “I’m a MAJOR GIFT OFFICER. I’m coming to ask you for a Major Gift. Get ready.”

Nobody OUTSIDE your organization deals with ‘MAJOR GIFTS.’

Nobody INSIDE even knows what they are.

As always, I challenge you with the ‘NO MORE’ … but offer an alternative SOLUTION.

Change the TITLE of your ‘MAJOR GIFT OFFICERS’ to something that includes the word RELATIONSHIP!!!

  • Could be a CRO: Chief Relationship Officer
  • Could be a RRO: Regional Relationship Officer
  • Could be RDOR: Regional Director of Relationships
  • Could be a CRO: College Relationship Officer
  • Could be just RO: Relationship Officer
The Three Big (Business) Questions

The Three Big (Business) Questions

Here are three big questions to think about:


We have worked with a lot of wonderful organizations … especially helping them with their MESSAGE, PRIORITIES and FUNDING PLAN.

IF every one of us and our organizations could answer ‘THE THREE BIG QUESTIONS’… it would help:


These questions are driven by Peter Drucker, Jim Collins, Tom Peters, and others.

Our CHALLENGE for you:


  • WHY are you in business? … is all about your VISION and your IMPACT andyour RAISON D’ETRE.
  • WHAT business are you in? … should be answered at the HIGHEST LEVEL!!! (Drucker’s old line about being in the ‘RAILROAD’ business or in the ‘TRANSPORTATION’ business might help.)
  • HOW does your business work? … is all about your BUSINESS MODEL and your BUSINESS PLAN and your FUNDING/REVENUE STREAMS.

P.S. Collins uses three CIRCLES.



We think this also works.

Let me know if this helps CHANGE THE GAME!

Altitude Awareness

Altitude Awareness

We use an Altitude Framework to order thinking, communications and storylines.

30,000′ The WHY VISION

In sharing this with others, one goal is simply to make everyone aware of 30,000′ and what it means to share the message and story at 30,000’.

People respond to you at whatever level you communicate. So, if you’re at 3,′ talking about where the architects are placing bathrooms, this will frame the conversation. Instead, if you’re at 30,000,′ talking about changing and saving lives… the conversations will be different.

One example: We worked with a well-respected social entrepreneur and Ashoka fellow. A driven individual and true visionary, he gets up every morning trying to change the face of poverty. Whenever he went to make an ‘ask,’ however, the conversation always turned into a debate about the business model (at 14,000′). The Altitude Framework helped him to see why this was happening.

Being an award-winning social entrepreneur, his message had taken shape around ‘doing business in a different way’… about ‘earned income’… about ‘not relying on philanthropy’… about being ‘best in the world at being sustainable.’ Naturally, prospects were engaging him at this level (14,000′). The 30,000′ WHY wasn’t coming through in his message. His story needed to be about being best in the world at changing the face of poverty (30,000′) — first — and then incorporating a different business model (at 14,000′).

The Altitude Framework was a simple tool that made him aware of his 30,000′ message. We’re happy to report his funding conversations changed considerably based on this conscious framing exercise.



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!


Three Reasons Why You Should Probably Ask!

Three Reasons Why You Should Probably Ask!

Thanks to Dan Kirsch at the Grinspoon Foundation for turning me on to 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.



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


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:



What Does an ‘Ask’ look like? A checklist.

What Does an ‘Ask’ look like? A checklist.

There is a lot of room to define this one… you should take the time to define it within your organization.

In the For Impact world, a REAL ASK means:

  • We were WITH a prospect – physically.
    • There are exceptions to this, but 19 times out of 20 the ask is done in person so that there is engagement and dialogue.
  • We asked the prospect for specific help with a specific project, program or level of support.
    • The dollar figure was clear. Example: “John, we need your help, would it be possible for you to underwrite this project for $20,000?”
    • It wasn’t open-ended. We didn’t ask, “Could you give whatever you can give?”
    • The funding rationale wasn’t for ‘unrestricted’ or ‘operations’… those aren’t specific.
  • The ask was a dialogue – a back and forth with questions and listening — so that we could ensure that we were maximizing the relationship at this given moment.
  • We will expect a YES or a NO – and will follow-up accordingly.
    • Thinking about how to get to a YES or NO ensures you have covered appropriate mechanics and you can continue within a sales process. Otherwise, there is a risk of pending into oblivion or unclear follow-up.

Without going through this checklist, we find often that:

  • A visit is scored as an ask.
  • There is no real ask – but rather a suggestion that it would be great to have the prospect’s help.
  • Some psychological shift whereby the salesperson only asks AFTER the prospect says he or she would like to make a gift. That’s not an ask. The relationship certainly wasn’t maximized, and it’s an incredibly low return-on-energy methodology.
  • The salesperson raises money without asking. This is similar to point above. To be clear, just showing up DOES yield funding – this is our point behind JUST VISIT!
    • In terms of measurement this is harder to spot (and therefore coach around), usually shows up because a sales person will report the following:
      • 25 visits
      • 20 asks
      • 3 commits
      • 0 declines
    • If you follow this ask checklist, you SHOULD get a no from time-to-time.
  • There was a request for help, but there was no funding rationale or dialogue. We see this with a lot of organizations that ARE raising money. They’re out visiting and they’re asking the prospect to help, but they’re not maximizing the relationship. (Not the worst problem in the world – but usually leaving tons of money on the table while having to seek new prospects).

Some reminders:

  • We’re pushing for everyone to be more assertive. That doesn’t mean you always have to ask for funding on the first visit. There are certainly many times where it’s a discovery or predisposition visit (but never times when you have to make 4-5 visits first).
  • We were with a client who visited with a high capacity prospect for the first time. There was not an ask, but we did ask for permission to make the ask. We closed the visit by saying to the prospect, “Today we wanted to share the vision and see if we could get you on board with our story. As we move along would it be okay to talk to you about supporting that vision?”