One of my go-to books on STORY and INFLUENCE is The Story Factor by Annette Simmons. First published in 2001, Simmons did a wonderful job pulling together frameworks and practical examples that illustrate how influence happens (or not) through the power of framing (i.e. STORY.)
It’s really powerful to pull some nuggets from this book during a general election cycle – Think about these points the next time you’re arguing politics with your relatives! (Good luck!)
“A good story helps you influence the interpretation people give to facts. Facts aren’t influential until they mean something to someone. A story delivers a context so that your facts slide into new slots in your listener’s brains. If you don’t give them a new story, they will simply slide new facts to old slots. People already have many stories they tell themselves to interpret their experiences. No matter what your message, they will search their memory banks until they find a story that fits for them.”
“Whenever you tell a story that contradicts someone’s core story they will usually get angry. This is a natural defense. Understanding anger is an important part of telling influential stories… If you choose to tell empowering stories you will encounter anger as people defend their ‘victim stories.’ When a new story demands courage, extra effort, or invalidates past choices, people usually get defensive.”
“Facts don’t have the power to change someone’s story. Their story is more powerful than your facts. As a person of influence, your goal is to introduce a new story that will let your facts in.”
“The beauty of story is its ability to last in memory long after the facts and figures are gone.”
“In the end, the best story wins. Not the right story, not even the most frequently told story, but the story that means the most to the greatest number of people—the one that is remembered. Lawyers know that. In the courtroom, diagrams, passionate language, exhibits, and the art of questioning witnesses are orchestrated to tell the story a lawyer wants told. A storytelling lawyer activates the emotions and senses of a jury and invokes the power of drama to influence the decision. The timing and style of a prosecution attorney walking ‘the murder weapon’ around the room can ignite the fears, horrors, and imaginations of the jury. They may be consciously concerned about the facts, but their subconscious mind is watching that gun and playing a story they imagine might have happened complete with screams, blood, and emotion. If this ‘story’ becomes real enough for them, they will find the facts to fit the story their subconscious already believes.”
This last part is worth summarizing: The best story wins. People will find facts to fit their ‘story.’
Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the For Impact Funding Boot Camp in Dublin, IE!
Tuesday, September 6, 2016 from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM (IST)
Info & Registration
Phoenix Park, Haughton House
Dublin 8 Ireland
(Super Early Bird Pricing ends this Friday)
Contact Kerry Suddes (email@example.com) about group pricing and discounts.
Note: We’ll also be in NYC this September:
Tuesday, September 28, 2016 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM –
Wednesday, September 29, 2016 8:30 AM to 12:00 PM (EST)
810 Seventh Avenue
52nd & 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019
Info & Registration
We are professionals – We do not make COLD CALLS!
Instead, we PREDISPOSE the prospect or potential investor before, during and after the visit. We predispose them to our phone call to set up the visit … we predispose to the visit/presentation itself … and yes, we even predispose to the follow-up!
The word PREDISPOSE means to make someone inclined, in advance, to a specific action or attitude. You need to be predisposing potential investors:
- To expect your contact,
- To look forward to visiting with you about your amazing organization,
- About your goals for the visit and how much time you need,
- About when to expect your follow up and what you will be communicating in your follow up.
We’re big on the need to have one Master Prospect List! A great MPL rates and ranks your entire pool of Qualified Prospects/Relationships in descending order or importance. However, deciding who you’re going to see first is very different from simply starting at the top of your Master Prospect List and working your way down.
Instead, begin like Archimedes on his best day by trying to LEVERAGE your commitments – building on each visit and commitment as you move along.
Here’s a great way to think about ordering your visits: ‘MO-COs,’ ‘LEAD-COs’ and ‘CO-COs’.
MO-COs are MOMENTUM COMMITMENTS.
These commitments are not necessarily about magnitude or size but rather ‘COMMENSURATE’… ‘SURPRISE’… ‘STRETCH’ gifts. These are the ‘EARLY ADOPTERS’ who get it, buy in, and provide the MOMENTUM to get going. In Good To Great, Jim Collins’ would call these ‘FLYWHEEL’ commitments. In order to get a FLYWHEEL moving at the beginning, it takes a lot of energy. But once there is some MOMENTUM… the wheel flies!
LEAD-CO’s are LEADERSHIP COMMITMENTS.
LEADERSHIP can literally TRANSFORM the organization, the campaign or the project. These are ‘Top of the Pyramid’ lead gifts that prove that our best prospects and investors have stepped up and give everyone the confidence needed to make the campaign or project happen.
“LEADERS LEAD.” – Bob Werner
Thanks to my friend Bob, a big time Mensch and Jewish philanthropic superstar, for the quote. I believe that success (or failure) is a direct result of LEADERS LEADING. If no one steps up as the INTERNAL leader, a campaign is doomed from the get go. If you can’t find at least one EXTERNAL leader or CHAMPION, it ain’t gonna happen either. (My preference is 3 CHAMPIONS.)
LEADERS LEAD. Boards, committees, staffs, constituents, stakeholders FOLLOW.
If leaders are not ENGAGED and PASSIONATE, then it becomes ‘The Suddes Group Campaign’ or ‘The Executive Director’s Campaign’, etc. Tom Mucks, another successful former Suddes Group partner, says, simply: “Passion and commitment from LEADERSHIP will overcome all obstacles.”
CO-CO’S are CONNECTOR COMMITMENTS.
Going after some of your most important ‘CONNECTORS’ early on is a terrific strategy to not only get their financial commitment (which may or may not be significant) but also to generate REFERRALS and STRATEGY on getting visits with your best prospects.
SPECIAL NOTE ON REFERRALS AND 3º OF SEPARATION:
Remember you are only 3º away from any QUALIFIED PROSPECT!! (Forget Kevin Bacon and his 6º – It’s actually been determined that it’s 2.78 ‘moves’/connections between Bacon and all other actors.) CONNECTORS and other NATURAL PARTNERS allow you to be one or two CONTACTS away from your best prospects. This is very, very important! Realizing you are only 3º away from ANYBODY who is a QUALIFIED PROSPECT lets you use your NATURAL PARTNERS (Champions, Board Members, Key Volunteer Leaders, Current Investors) to get you there.
Extra Special Note: I am only 3º away from the Pope, the President and the Prime Minister of Israel. And, I’m only 2º away from the Dalai Lama! How? Because of my CONNECTIONS and RELATIONSHIPS, I can get to ‘someone’ who can get to ‘someone’ who can get to the Pope, the President and the Prime Minister.
Teleseminars are a way for us to offer valuable training to our For Impact Community – in a short, ‘call in from anywhere’ format. Join us this Tuesday and Wednesday for two of our most popular topics:
Teleseminar: How to Make Your Story Awesome
Tuesday, July 26, 2016 1:00-1:45ET
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.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016 1:00-1:45ET
Free for first 50 registrants
“Would it be possible for you to consider taking the LEAD on this initiative?” [pointing to $1M]
“Where do you see yourself?”
This seminar covers over 20 PHRASES and QUESTIONS we use to JUST ASK. It’s intended to provide very practical nuts-and-bolts examples to help you visualize HOW to ask:
- New prospects
- Board members
- Long time supporters to step up
Stories and closes will include:
- How to close like Steve Jobs
- How to ask when you have no idea about capacity
- How to ask AFTER the visit — dealing with ‘what I should’ve said was….’
- Three ways to ask your very best prospect to take the lead and how to follow-up when you can’t afford a ‘no’
- Questions to help you qualify on a discovery visit
- How to make sure gifts close by a date / time
- How to address the most common objections when they come up
- How to predispose the prospect to a really really big ask
Don’t miss the opportunity to experience a For Impact workshop in a city near you!
Join us in Dublin, Ireland and NYC for the For Impact Funding Boot Camp; and in Colorado Springs, Denver and Los Angeles for Fundraising on a Napkin.
For Impact Funding Boot Camp Dates & Locations:
Tuesday, September 6, 2016 from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM (IST)
Info & Registration (Super Early Bird Pricing still available)
Tuesday, September 28, 2016 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM – Wednesday, September 29, 2016 8:30 AM to 12:00 PM (EST)
810 Seventh Avenue
52nd & 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019
Info & Registration (Early Bird Pricing still available)
Fundraising on a Napkin Dates & Locations:
Tuesday, October 11, 2016 from 8:30 AM to 12:00 PM (PT)
155 N. Occidental Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Info & Registration | Overview
Save as a For Impact Community Member: You can save $100 (full price $145) using discount
More dates and cities to be announced soon! Contact Kerry Suddes firstname.lastname@example.org | 614-554-7525 with questions.
In his book The Checklist Manifesto, author Atul Gawande calls attention to 3 different kinds of problems: the simple, the complicated, and the complex.
“Two professors who study the science of complexity—Brenda Zimmerman of York University and Sholom Glouberman of the University of Toronto—have proposed a distinction among three different kinds of problems in the world: the simple, the complicated, and the complex.
Simple problems, they note, are ones like baking a cake from a mix. There is a recipe. Sometimes there are a few basic techniques to learn. But once these are mastered, following the recipe brings a high likelihood of success.
Complicated problems are ones like sending a rocket to the moon. They can sometimes be broken down into a series of simple problems. But there is no straightforward recipe. Success frequently requires multiple people, often multiple teams, and specialized expertise. Unanticipated difficulties are frequent. Timing and coordination become serious concerns.
Complex problems are ones like raising a child. Once you learn how to send a rocket to the moon, you can repeat the process with other rockets and perfect it. One rocket is like another rocket. But not so with raising a child, the professors point out. Every child is unique. Although raising one child may provide experience, it does not guarantee success with the next child. Expertise is valuable but most certainly not sufficient. Indeed, the next child may require an entirely different approach from the previous one. And this brings up another feature of complex problems: their outcomes remain highly uncertain. Yet we all know that it is possible to raise a child well. It’s complex, that’s all.”
I want to relate this framing to teams and dysfunction. Building and leading a team is a complex problem. Like raising a child well – “It’s complex, that’s all.” In our work at The Suddes Group, we’re often building or reconfiguring teams to create greater funding results. One of the things we’ve observed is the relationship between the simple and complex problems. When teams don’t execute on the simple problems, the complex problems are amplified.
Any funding effort is largely a function of simple problems: (more…)
The Call Memo is an important mechanic in our Sales Process – It’s an internal memo-for-the-record. I would encourage you to write-up these notes IMMEDIATELY following the visit. Don’t wait!
(I carry a dictation device and transcribe the call memo in my car – minutes after the visit ends.)
Objectives of the Call Memo:
- Record what happened on the visit. Someone on your team should be able to pick-up the memo and continue the conversation. In most cases, you can have a sheet of paper out to take notes during the visit. I’m amazed at how often sales people don’t take notes!
- Use quotes. THIS IS IMPORTANT!!!! The best message in the world is the one that comes from the prospect’s mouth. Capture words and exact phrases used by the prospect(s); put them in quotes.
- Bad: Prospect seemed to like our program.
- Good: “Of everything you’re doing, I honestly don’t really care about the after-school program but I think the summer program has mountains of potential.”
- Help you LISTEN. (Read Vocabulary Wars.)
- Help others on your team LISTEN (even though they weren’t there).
- Make life so much easier when you pull out the call report in six months…
- Use bullets. Easier to read. Easier (faster) for you to download.
- No rule on length. Should capture all the key points that you would need to remember in six months, but shouldn’t take you all afternoon to compose.
Reposting one of our most popular nuggets from Tom about how to measure success and productivity in your Development Operation.
RETURN-ON-INVESTMENT: What every Investor wants from their investment and what every For Impact organization should want from its development/advancement/fundraising effort.
I feel this concept is completely absent or totally misunderstood from our sector – Something I want to help change.
With all due respect to the industry, I just don’t get it. An organization invests money and resources in their development/fundraising operation (whether it’s a one-person shop or 50 people in the college advancement division) but doesn’t measure that RETURN-ON-INVESTMENT. I’m not sure how else you would measure productivity or success without making ROI the #1 barometer.
ROI is very simple to calculate. It’s a numerator/denominator math problem:
- Here’s how much money we Raised (the numerator).
- Here’s how much money we spent/Total Expenses (denominator).
In the For Impact approach, the development function ‘write checks’ to the IMPACT.
For example, if you are a hospital foundation raising $2M a year in ‘fundraising Revenue and your total expenses are $1M then your ROI is 2X or 100%; and your cost of fundraising is 50%.
There are two ways to increase your ROI and decrease your cost of fundraising:
- Increase the Numerator (Revenue)
- Decrease the Denominator (Expenses)
In our For Impact world, our own benchmarks are as follows:
- 3X is minimum model/benchmark.
- 4X is great.
- 5X is something you should be very proud of.
If you’re running a Campaign within an existing development operation or as a separate initiative, I believe the cost of fundraising should be a nickel (five cents on the dollar.) That would give you a 20X ROI.
If you are a For Impact leader, senior staff, executive director or a board member, I hope the above gives you some sense of comparison.
Ok, I think you get the point.
Have you ever finished a great visit and had the prospect say, “This is great – 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.’
Read more on Follow Up.