I cannot begin to count the number of times we have been told/asked “This is all great, but… we can’t get an appointment. They won’t see us. How do we get in the door?”
Our first response is always the same: “Stop trying to get an ‘APPOINTMENT’!”
The word ‘appointment’ itself is a problem. It conjures up visions of doctors! Worse, dentists!
Think about the idea of a VISIT. This is not just semantic gymnastics. It’s a mind-set. A VISIT implies friendship, conversation, mutual desire to be together and much more.
You can read this in a melodramatic tone:
Stop trying to get APPOINTMENTS… with DONORS… to ASK THEM FOR MONEY!
A simple vocabulary change creates an entirely different dynamic.
Get a VISIT… with a POTENTIAL INVESTOR… to PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY!
Here is a deeper explanation of the power of ‘ALTITUDE’ on a visit/presentation:
- Always go (back) up. Nick Fellers has a really great way to use ‘altitude/elevation’ on the presentation. When training or coaching, Nick makes this very clear: When in doubt… when challenged… when questioned… ALWAYS GO (BACK) UP TO 30,000’! (The Vision…The Message…The Purpose.)
- Get ‘buy-in’ at the highest level. As you make the Case for Support, the prospect/ potential investor needs to understand and acknowledge their acceptance of the ‘blue’ VISION and ‘red’ PRIORITIES. Sometimes this is “You had me at hello.” (Renee to Tom Cruise) Other times, it may take the entire first visit to get them to understand and agree that this is an important cause and case. Regardless, it doesn’t make any sense to talk about the Plan or How They Can Help if they don’t ‘get it’ at the highest level.
- Dissent on the descent. To put this in another way, there can be no ‘dissent’ on the descent! I think of this as kind of the opposite of getting the ‘bends’. If a diver ascends too quickly, they get a case of the ‘bends’. It’s painful and many times life-threatening. During a presentation, the prospect can get the ‘reverse-bends’ if you descend too rapidly. “Hello. Thanks for seeing me. Here’s our campaign Can you give $100,000?”
- ‘Permission to proceed’. We have actually incorporated this specific terminology into the presentation. (It’s actually the words used to complete a ‘transfer’ on a high ropes challenge course!) “It seems like you’re fully engaged with both our Mission and our Message. Would it be okay (permission to proceed) to go deeper and talk about our Strategic Priorities and our Plan to make all this happen???”
- Altitude is not always top-down or hierarchical. You can ‘enter’ at any level. You can focus on any level. You can travel up and down… and even side to side, especially when you’re using an Engagement Tool.
- Learn to draw! The Engagement Tool is meant to be used with markers, colored pens or some writing instrument. You can add visuals such as arrows or circles or words as you use this framework. Write on it! It encourages participation and conversation!
- Ask questions! Again, since this is all about ENGAGEMENT, CONVERSATION and DIALOGUE, the Engagement Tool should allow for multiple ways to ASK QUESTIONS!!!
- 3 GREAT QUESTIONS:
- 1. The ‘Blue’, 30,000’ Question:
“What do you know about… our Organization/our Current Vision/New Goals?”
- 2. The ‘Red, 14,000’ Question:
“Which one of these ‘3 Circles’ (Priorities) is most important to you?”
- 3. The Green, 3’ Question:
“Based on your understanding of the Purpose, Priorities and Plan… would it be okay to talk about how you can help?”
- Transition is important: Always use questions to transition from the levels of dialogue or engagement. E.g.
- “What does your involvement with (Org) mean to you?”
- “Did you have a unique experience at (Org)?”
- “Are you willing to be a ‘CHAMPION’ for (Org)?”
- “We are asking everyone in our family to help in 3 ways. Can we go there?”
- ‘Permission to Proceed’
We also call these ‘transition questions’ – because they TRANSITION within the flow.
- “Would it be okay?”
- “Would it be possible to?”
- “At this time, I’d like to talk specifically about the Funding Plan if that’s okay with you.”
- If there was a poor job of predisposition, you might even be able to get away with: “I know we didn’t come here today to talk about numbers but it certainly seems like we’re in sync about the projects. Would it be okay if I were to share the Funding Plan?”
Asking for permission to proceed allows you to be comfortably assertive.
- Customize it. Put the person’s or company’s name at the top, write in the specific Priorities or Projects to be funded, or whatever.
- Leave it with them. Many Prospects will actually ask if they can keep this ‘visual’ representation. You can leave them ‘their’ copy… with all the handwritten notes… and a clean copy that they can share with others (if needed).
- Fold or front/back. You can fold the Engagement Tool so only the ‘blue’ is showing. Keeps their attention/focus at 30,000’! (Then, I open it to ‘proceed’).*We also have put a (Campus) MAP or ‘drawings/sketches’ of Building Projects on the back.
- Size matters. We (almost) always use this as an 18 x 24 or at least an 11 x 17. Plenty of room to write, draw, etc. Plus, you can stand up, move around and ‘engage’ your way through the Framework.
- Finally, PRACTICE. PRACTICE. PRACTICE. The more you use the Engagement Tool… the better you will be able to control the FLOW of the visit. And, you will figure out what works and what doesn’t.
Jim Yoder is one of my closest friends (since our days together at Notre Dame) and a former partner of The Suddes Group. Jim has been running/managing large campaigns for over 20 years.
When he was working on a $1.5M Campaign for Economic Development (over 5 years) in a small community in North Carolina:
He spent 3 DAYS …
EVERY OTHER WEEK …
FOR 3 MONTHS …
working on the Funding Initiative.
100 VISITS … 100 SHOULDER-TO-SHOULDER, FACE-TO-FACE, EYEBALLTO-EYEBALL PRESENTATIONS … IN JUST THOSE 18 DAYS!!!
Oh, and by the way, Jim had never met any of those prospects/potential investors personally before he made those visits … AND he Presented the Opportunity for them to make an investment (JUST ASK) in almost every single instance!
I told Jim that 100 visits in those 18 days was more than most Development Officers and Major Gift Officers Make in a year.
HOW MANY VISITS ARE YOU/YOUR ORG MAKING THIS WEEK???
I hope you have all now seen or read one of our absolute favorite quotes by Andy Grove:
“ENGAGE. THEN PLAN.”
We’ve been astounded over the years by how many people PLAN, PLAN, PLAN … RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH … CULTIVATE, CULTIVATE, CULTIVATE</br> …</br>and never ENGAGE!
Remember, ENGAGE = VISIT = PRESENT = JUST ASK!
Perhaps these two quotes by a legendary warrior/philosopher and a not-so-legendary boxer might also help.
“EVERYBODY HAS A PLAN UNTIL FIRST CONTACT WITH THE ENEMY.” Sun Tzu(The Art of War)
“EVERYBODY HAS A PLAN UNTIL THEY GET HIT.”Leon Spinks
The ‘PLAN’ is not the answer.
GET OUT AND ENGAGE. MAKE FIRST CONTACT! (It’s not the enemy!) GET HIT. (Make visits. Take your best shot.)
Your ‘PLAN’ will be a thousand times better after you have had this first contact and gotten hit than it is right now if you’re writing it in your office or conference room or in a bubble.
* Following are notes and thoughts to help you understand this at the conceptual level… as well as how best to USE the ENGAGEMENT TOOL to produce ‘closes’, ‘commitments’ and ‘cash’.
- It grabs their attention! The SIMPLICITY and VISUAL nature of this ‘piece’ is so totally different than most material being used on Visits (which are not designed for one-on-one Presentations!)… that it commands attention! (Most likely, this will be the first and only actual ‘Presentation’ Tool for your organization.)
- It is all about the ‘REAL ESTATE’. (Location, Location, Location) Using the constraint of limited space, the Engagement Tool tries to capture an organization’s IMPACT POINTS and many of the TALKING POINTS necessary to make a great Presentation and, at the same time, provides for meaningful ‘white space’ to allow for emphasis, additions, or clarifications.
- It actually allows for a ‘TRIPLE ASK’!!!
[As opposed to ‘cultivation’, multiple visits and never getting ‘dollars on the table’, much less ‘in the bank’!]
- It is designed at ALTITUDE. (See here for more.)
30,000′ Why Purpose Blue 14,000′ What Priorities Red 3′ How Plan Green
We have used this ALTITUDE FRAMEWORK as an integral, critical part of our presentation FLOW with hundreds of organizations on thousands of visits. It works.
- Start with, the WHY. Once they’re on board…
- Move to the WHAT. Once they understand …
- It’s on to the HOW. HOW you will execute and HOW they can help.
I was re-reading some stuff by Julia Cameron, who is one of my favorite writers, authors, thinkers. (Her ARTIST’S WAY is one of my favorite books and favorite gifts.)
Julia shares a terrific quote from poet Theodore Roethke that fits perfectly into our focus on ENGAGEMENT!
“I LEARN by going where I have to GO.”
“Where you have to GO”… is on VISITS with QUALIFIED PROSPECTS.
P.S. If Roethke is a little existential for you, listen to Brian Tracy, one of the world’s best sales trainers, writers and thinkers, when he summarizes all of sales training into this ‘SIMPLE’ challenge:
“Spend MORE TIME with BETTER PROSPECTS.”
In Suddes-speak: ENGAGE!
We have pioneered the use of a simple, visual ‘ENGAGEMENT TOOL’ to replace your PowerPoint, brochures and existing material.
- The GOAL is a simple, visual ‘TOOL’ (MAP) to help present a powerful CASE for SUPPORT… on a ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ VISIT.
- The PURPOSE of the Engagement Tool is three-fold:
- It is a specific, visual way to ENGAGE the Prospect in CONVERSATION and DIALOGUE. (Thus, ‘Engagement’ Tool vs. ‘Presentation Tool’.)
- It’s a great FRAMEWORK for the VISIT/PRESENTATION.
- It puts the ‘CLOSE’ (HOW YOU CAN HELP) right in front of the Presenter(s) (Sales Team) and the Prospect.
- The STRATEGY with the Engagement Tool is to CONTROL THE FLOW of the Presentation! (Think of it like Linus’ Security Blanket!)
- The ENGAGEMENT TOOL is
- NOT a ‘brochure’!
- NOT meant to be a ‘stand alone’!
- NOT a ‘collateral piece’!
- NOT a text-heavy, small print, multiple-page ‘document’!
I love the magazine Selling Power (mostly just because I love the idea of sales). Gerhard Gschwandtner is the founder and publisher of Selling Power and has had a tremendous influence on my thinking. The subtitle of the magazine is “Solutions for Sales Management,” and they provide a lot of solutions!
I was skimming an old issue (May 2005) looking for more stuff on PROSPECTS and came across this article by Geoffrey James called:
GET OVER IT!
Post-9/11 Everything Changed EXCEPT THE NEED TO SEE PROSPECTS!
(Those are my caps and my exclamation point.)
Here are the guts of the article:
- “It’s never been more difficult to get through to an executive to make a FORMAL APPOINTMENT.” In our For Impact World, we deal with that in a number of ways. Most importantly, we don’t look for a “FORMAL APPOINTMENT”…
- but rather a VISIT!!! ‘APPOINTMENT’ (especially a ‘FORMAL’ one) immediately triggers your synapses to think ‘DOCTOR!’ Or, worse, ‘DENTIST!’
- “You have to do a better job of making prospects want to see you.” The way we do that is making a big, big deal of PREDISPOSITION!!!
- The absolute best PREDISPOSITION for all of us in the For Impact World is to actually bring the ‘prospect’ to where you deliver your service. Let them SEE, TOUCH, HEAR, SMELL WHAT you do. Make it palpable. Make it memorable. Make it an experience.
- “Once you do get in, however, you’d better be prepared to build a LASTING RELATIONSHIP.” WOW! As most of you know, our GOAL with all of our PROSPECTS is to create a RELATIONSHIP … ideally a LIFETIME RELATIONSHIP … and, then MAXIMIZE THAT RELATIONSHIP …AT EVERY GIVEN MOMENT!
The article goes on to talk about working to get a ‘VISIT.’
I love their “warning:”
“Working this system requires PREPARATION and PERSISTENCE.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
One of our discovery questions for our clients is:
For MOST organizations, and even the BUSIEST funding professionals and largest colleges, this number rarely tops five!
One simple way to think about boosting productivity is to literally drop everything that doesn’t help you boost this number (by a lot). What if your ONLY goal this month were to have ten great visits in which you shared the story of your organization and presented the opportunity to help or make an impact?