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The ‘OPEN’ vs. ‘CLOSE’ Paradox

Brian Tracy, one of the best sales trainers in the world, says that 40% of salespeople don’t close. Jack Canfield, of mega-phenom Chicken Soup fame puts the number at 60%.

As the old (and only?) song by the Monkees goes, music_note“I’m a believer…” when it comes to JUST ASK.

However, we have re-framed the ASK (CLOSE) to PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY (to INVEST, to OWN, whatever).

With that said, I am convinced more and more that it’s much more about the ‘OPEN’, not the ‘CLOSE’, that makes the SALE.

Do a GREAT OPEN! It’s a VISIT, not an appointment. Talk about yourself and ask about the prospect. Then… you can move to purpose of visit.

***In our For Impact Presentation Flow, the OPEN is built around you… them… us. Amazing how many people don’t begin the VISIT talking about themselves and then the prospect before they start talking about the organization.

What part of Re-Allocate don’t you understand?

I’ve written a few other things on the whole idea of RE-ALLOCATION. In its simplest form, this is a one-word entrepreneurial approach to taking a hard look at your GOAL… and then RE-ALLOCATING RESOURCES to meet those goals.

Here’s what triggered this. Nick, Kerry and I hear this comment three to ten times a day: “We love your stuff. We really need your help. (With our Board, with Training, with Coaching). But, WE DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY/BUDGET.”

Here’s the part that bothers me so much about that. When challenged about CURRENT use of resources, this is what we hear:

    “We just spent HUGE DOLLARS on wealth screening.”
    *What good is it to know the auditor’s assessment value of their house in today’s turbulent real estate market?
    “We just spent HUGE DOLLARS on our database management system.”
    *You can’t manage relationships you don’t have!
    • “We just spent HUGE DOLLARS hiring a Planned Giving Officer or adding Special Event Coordinators.”
    *You’re in sales. Get over it. Boots on the street. Top down, shoulder-to-shoulder presentations.

I could go on and on. I won’t. You either get the fact that you need to RE-ALLOCATE RESOURCES (Money, Time, People) to those things that are MOST IMPORTANT… or you don’t.

Note: This particular conversation would also lead to the Pandora’s Box of ‘COST OF FUNDRAISING’. Do the Math. It will make this whole RE-ALLOCATION thing waaaay easier.

Entrepreneurial Paradox

Ten years ago, I put this list together for an MBA class presentation at Notre Dame for Jim Davis. Jim is a professor in the Notre Dame Business School, former Director of the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, and one of my favorite people to hang around.

Jim and I both thought this was an interesting way to talk about the challenges of being an Entrepreneur.

I thought it would be of value to anyone trying to both build and lead a high-performance team and scale and grow an organization/business.

*I updated a few words for relevance.

Re: Revenue. The job of marketing. The job of sales.

I stumbled on a great read: If Disney Ran Your Hospital.

It caught my attention because one of the first lines of the books reads:

“The job of marketing is to provide qualified leads for sales.”

Think about that line as it relates to your organization.

  • Marketing v. Sales: Look at your funding efforts. Many of them are really marketing efforts — begging the question, where is the sales function?

  • How can you use your ‘marketing functions’ (in my book: mail, social media, events) as fulfilling the stated job above? This changes the game.

  • Problem is I think many try to use marketing (again, in my book: mail, social, media, events) as the centerpieces of a funding strategy. This frame forces an adjustment. If you do them at all (not sure you should be doing them at all) then be sure they provide QUALIFIED LEADS because your organization is COMMITTED TO SALES!

My Success/Opportunity Journey

Thirteen years ago I won a Trip Around the World in the only ‘contest’ I’d ever entered. The challenge was to submit five ideas to ‘FIGHT GLOBAL POVERTY WITH ENTREPRENEURSHIP’.

Three months after submitting my ideas on the back of a Bob Evan’s Restaurant Placemat, I was on a plane reading my Success magazine and saw the page titled ‘CONGRATULATIONS, REVOLUTIONARIES!’ As I read over the announcement, I saw that the winner of the grand prize was ‘Thomas J. Suddes‘. I thought, “Holy Criminy, there’s another Thomas J. Suddes!?”

It was me… and 32,000 miles, 11 countries, 9 all-night planes or trains later… I had completed one of those ‘life-altering experiences’.

I got to work with Micro-Entrepreneurs, almost all women, in Poland, Russia, India, Bangladesh, and the Philippines. I was able to visit the Holy Cross Missions in Bangladesh to see the work that had been sponsored by the Notre Boxing Program and the Bengal Bouts (which I’ve been involved in for the last 44 years). I spent the last three days of the trip in Australia, which is obviously not a Third World Country, but the headquarters of Opportunity International.

As I told the Opportunity leadership and the editors of Success magazine afterwards, I didn’t meet a lot of ‘dignitaries‘; but, I met a lot of people with dignity.

I’m spending 30% of my time in this ‘Social Entrepreneur’ space. In thinking back, I was in this ‘space‘ long before it was even a category or sector. I’ve watched it grow from Micro-Finance to Micro-Enterprise to Social Enterprise to Social Entrepreneurship… and soon to Social Capital and Social Investment.

I’ve been with these young Social Entrepreneurs at Sparkseed, the Unreasonable Institute and StartingBloc, and I am convinced that they are going to change the way we deal with social challenges and social problems… and change the world.

I thought you might enjoy seeing the Announcement of my trip and the Success Article that came out a few months afterward. (Full Disclosure: Although the article has my name on it, it was re-written and edited by some lady at Success. Not always my points or lessons but, in general, should give you an idea of the trip.)

Special Note: I just remembered one of the funniest parts about this whole experience. After I won, I didn’t hear from Success magazine for a long time. Come to find out, they were having some ‘financial challenges‘. In effect, this meant they didn’t have any money for the trip. So I asked for a list of some of their potential advertisers and got on the phone with STS out of Los Angeles. Convinced them to trade a full-page ad in Success magazine for underwriting the trip. (And got myself bumped up to Business Class.!)

And now you know, “The rest of the story…”

Write Great Stuff!

I recently came up with this one-line coaching nugget:


It started when I was with the Colorado College Sales Team and we were talking about predisposition, getting the visit and following up after the visit.

Then, I was with two other coaching clients talking about STRATEGY on their very best prospects (one of whom had just been seen and had huge, 8 figure, potential.) My counsel was the same to all of these: WRITE GREAT STUFF!

I’ve learned something over the years that might be of value to you right now. Take the time to write or type or dictate your Call Report (Memo for the Record) immediately after the visit.

Then, use that summary to write the most powerful FOLLOW-UP possible.

    • This is customized, not a ‘form’ letter/email!
    • Great place to send a few paragraphs feeding back what you heard on the visit.
    • Terrific way to summarize and capture the Story and Message, especially some of the parts you weren’t able to cover during the ‘shoulder-to-shoulder visit’.
    • A chance to put, in writing, your acknowledgment of their gift/commitment… or the request/opportunity that you presented.
    • And perhaps most importantly, you can reinforce the specific follow-up. (I will call you next Tuesday).

This same concept works when it comes to getting the visit or predisposing for the visit.

Special, Special, Special Note: One of the huge epiphanies for a Colorado College Team superstar was this simple idea: The ultimate goal is not the ‘VISIT’… it is the ‘PRESENTATION OF THE OPPORTUNITY’!!!

If someone is telling you that they love your organization, but they just really can’t or don’t want to meet… then WRITE GREAT STUFF!

If someone is giving you $10,000 a year… and telling you how much they love your organization… then put a big OPPORTUNITY in front of them… IN WRITING… and tell them you’ll call them next Tuesday!

Untemeher*: The Entrepreneurial Spirit

This week’s thinking (and writing) is focused on ‘ENTREPRENEURSHIP’.

Whether you’re a ‘Social’ Entrepreneur, a ‘Business’ Entrepreneur, Intrapreneurial or Entrepreneurial ‘wannabe’… ‘ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT’ can help you attain almost unimaginable goals.

Very few people in the 3rd Sector think like Entrepreneurs. However, if you look at the definition of Entrepreneurial and Social Entrepreneurs in the these quotes, you will see the instant application of this attitude.

    Performance Changers!
    Transformative Forces!
    Creative Destructors!
    Value Creators!
    Opportunity Exploiters!
    Rule Breakers!
    Risk Takers!
    Love What They Do!
    Live What They Love!

*Untemeher is German for ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT!

A $5 Million Collaborative Partner

Here’s a great story from the field that just happened. I have changed the names and the organization and even the sector to protect the ‘innocent’ (or ‘guilty’).

A FOR IMPACT ORGANIZATION (FIO) with an amazing story had a very close working relationship with a FOR PROFIT ORGANIZATION (FPO). The FPO actually provided services for the FIO to the tune of $4 to $5 Million a year.

In the initial strategy session, we strongly recommended that this FPO be looked upon as a Top 3 Prospect. Based on previous history, no gift record, existing business relationship… there was a pretty strong ‘pushback’ from the FIO.

Finally, everyone was convinced that this was at least “worth a shot”. My recommendation was to ask for $1 Million a year for five years. (Remember: Current giving history is zero!)

As Paul Harvey would say, “Here’s the rest of the story.”

FIO CEO meets with FPO CEO and basically says, “Thank you for all you do for us. We are scaling and growing our impact. We would like you to be a Lead Partner in that growth.”

FPO CEO response: “I don’t think we can actually ‘give‘ you any money. However, we can certainly reduce the cost of the services that we provide.”

WOW! SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY! This will turn into a $1 Million a year reduction in the current cost of operations for the FIO! Talk about ‘budget relief‘ on steroids!

Whether the $1 Million/$5 Million is an outright gift… or a reduction of expenses… it still has the same amazing transformational result for the FIO.

The Broader Meaning of Income

“The mind, once expanded to dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

The implications and application of IMPACT DRIVES INCOME had become pretty far-reaching. Here’s another great example.

Once you expand your thinking beyond ‘FUNDRAISING’, it opens up huge opportunities to generate significantly more INCOME.


We have helped large numbers of For Impact Organizations get super creative about ‘HOW’ they fund their People, Programs and Places. Nowhere has this been more evident than in our work with FIO’s ‘real estate’ goals. Mortgages, land contracts, long-term leases with gift-backs and more.

So many For Impact Organizations can really ramp up their Revenue Streams by taking a very creative and hard look at their ‘Services and Products’ (Programs).

In the very near future, there may even be a Social Capital Market to help FIO’s increase their Income and their Impact!

Note: ‘Social Enterprise’ is a terribly confusing space right now. Four or five years ago, it was about putting a Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream franchise on the first floor of your not-for-profit and try to make some money. (That didn’t work.)

The real message here is looking at this like any successful ‘business':

    • How do we make money?
    • How do we increase sales and revenue?
    • How do we creatively finance our expansion and ability to scale and grow?

Social Entrepreneur’s Master Checklist

I am on my way to New York to speak at StartingBloc Summit of Social Entrepreneurs. In putting together the presentation, I’m sharing for the first time our For Impact Social Entrepreneur’s FUNDING ROADMAP and our Social Entrepreneur’s MASTER CHECKLIST.

I believe both of these have value to everyone in our For Impact ‘TRIBE’ (as Seth Godin would call you).

Enjoy… and give me some feedback!


***For more, contact us at

Make this mantra your response to: How can I help?

I wanted to explore the word ‘mantra’. Google pushed me to wikipedia. Wikipedia defines mantra as: a group of words that are considered capable of “creating transformation”.

I’m going to give wikipedia the thumbs up on this one, that’s a pretty powerful definition. A mantra is also something you REPEAT. It becomes ingrained. It rolls off your tongue. Perhaps it’s the embodiment of the phrase which leads to transformation…. I digress.

I’ve been encouraging people to think about ‘Champion/Invite/Invest‘ as a mantra… a phrase in their back pocket they can pull out when someone asks, “How can I help?” This mantra would be instead of 1) having no answer or 2) just blurting out some other mode of engagement hoping an even stronger indication of interest will appear in the future. Problem is, the prospect is asking the question NOW.

You can simply say, “Whenever I’m asked that question I tell people there are three things they can do that will have a huge impact: Champion. Invite and Invest.”

  1. Champion! Be a champion for [insert cause or org]. We need voices. I would love to be able to leverage your name and call upon you when needed for endorsement.

  2. Invite! Someone connected you to us. You were gracious with your time because of someone else’s insistence. This is how we’re going to make this plan a reality is by asking people like you to help us share the story with others. I would love to be able to talk to you about what that might look like. It’s pretty simple.

  3. Invest! Everyday we change lives. We people ask about how to help I’m not shy about letting them know they can make a financial investment that will change lives… tomorrow. This means something different to each person. [We ask everyone to consider an investment that is commensurate to his or her own financial situation and passion for the mission.] Is that something we could talk about?

Champion/Invite/Invest provides a simple and quick answer. It invites the relationship to move forward in the appropriate way. Often someone is saying, “I’m ready to write a check.” If you’re not sure, just talking about the investment and getting permission really helps with confidence and therefor accelerates the dialogue. At worst it gives you a roadmap for the relationship.

If you keep this mantra in your back pocket I’m pretty confident in its ability to ‘create transformation’.

Do What You Can

“Do what you can… with what you have… where you are.”
Theodore Roosevelt

I saw this at the bottom of an email from one of our For Impact evangelists. I love Teddy’s simplicity and directness.

Sure cuts through a lot of whining and complaining.

It also reminded me of something else that Teddy Roosevelt wrote in 1913 called MAN IN THE ARENA. For the last 20 years, I’ve shared a copy of this with every Notre Dame boxer at the end of the season.

Thought you would enjoy reading it… especially for all of you who are actually “in the arena“.

Note: 1913. Pre-Equality. I’ve added the (WO). There are certainly as many WO-MEN in the arena as MEN.