Once you’ve made an ask (numbers on the table), the prospect status can be either pending or committed/declined. Pending implies that we’re working toward a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The challenge is that so many requests never get to a ‘yes’ or ‘no’… they fade into pending oblivion.
Pending into oblivion sounds like this [my commentary in brackets]:
“Well we didn’t want to harass the prospect after we asked.”
[so we didn’t follow-up to see if it was a yes/no and so it went nowhere]
“The family says it’s still thinking.”
[16 months is a long time to be thinking, do you think something’s going to change about that next month?]
“If we forced them to a decision, I’m worried they would say no.”
[but we don’t know that for sure, so instead we let the relationship function in this grey area — moreover, without dialogue we can’t actually deal with objections]
There comes a time when we need to force a decision. When it’s been 16 months… when you’ve made four visits… you’ll know it when you come to it.
You can simply say, “Prospect, we’ve had some great discussions about this project and it’s time to come to some sort of decision about a commitment. We [as an organization] are moving forward and we just need to know where we stand. We need A commitment [TODAY].”
If we can’t ultimately report each request as a pending or a commit, it’s likely we didn’t really ask in the first place or we’re not doing our jobs.
There is a greater danger than getting a ‘no’. It’s not having dialogue, not having any real sense of what’s working in your system, and leaving relationships in a grey – stagnant area.
Tom is helping a college wrap-up a huge campaign. The five-person development team has about 70 sizeable gifts pending. Tom rallied the troops in August and said, “We’re in a phase in which there is no more pending.” For the last six weeks the team has been out having commitment conversations with each family, prospect and foundation. This has generated $14M in commitments over the last two weeks.