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For Impact | The Suddes Group

Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

Sales Team Vocabulary


We’re big on vocab. Team vocabulary is especially important. [Think: CLEAR COMMUNICATION.] Here is some vocabulary for SALES TEAMS. In our roles as coaches, we see a correlation between the adoption of these phrases and the emergence of a true sales culture.

  1. Predisposition: Everything you can do ahead of the visit to make it NOT a cold call or a surprise ask.It’s critical to be able to ask a teammate: “Has this prospect been predisposed?” Or, “Is there any more predisposition we can be doing ahead of the visit?”
  2. Ask: Take some time to define what an ask is with your team. See this Checklist. Most fundraisers don’t make TRUE asks. In the broader sales world, Brian Tracy pointed out that 90% of the time, sales people don’t ask for the order!
  3. Roadmap: As in, “Our goal on this visit is to get a roadmap to the commitment.”There is nothing more frustrating than getting a report from a salesperson that says, “Prospect is not ready yet.” What does that mean?

    Equally frustrating is getting a report that you’ve met with a foundation and been invited to submit a grant request.

    • For how much?
    • Focusing on what program or priority?
    • Including what key language?

    A good salesperson doesn’t always need to leave with a commitment, but he or she should always leave with a commitment, decline, or a roadmap!

  4. “Numbers on the Table”: This is a term that we use to get clarity, e.g., “We were able to get numbers on the table.” Or, “We had a great meeting but it just felt too forced right now to get numbers on the table.”Either way, I can get a great sense of where we are in the sales process and what to make of the report.

    Note: To be clear, we’re almost always trying to get numbers on the table – tied to a project or plan.

  5. Discovery: Discovery is the process of listening and learning about:
    • Relationship (to case or cause)
    • Interests
    • Capacity

    When in discovery mode, there is an even greater emphasis on asking questions, engaging, and listening/learning.

    It’s important to be able to communicate to a partner before a visit, “We’re going to start out HEAVY in discovery mode and then flip to the presentation.”

  6. Visit: A phone call is not a visit. An email is not a visit. Also, being in the presence of a prospect without any attempt to maximize the relationship at this given moment is not a visit.A visit is a structured one-on-one that includes discovery, dialogue around the [plan/vision/program/story], and some progress toward a relationship goal.

    I see too many sales reports that indicate 22 visits for the week when, in fact, all 11 visits were simply ‘points of contact.’

  7. Green Sheet (Dashboard): Each team needs a dashboard – for clarity, speed in communication, and accountability. In fact, with great teams, the dashboard is more important as a fast communication tool than an accountability process.
  8. Commitment: You need to define ‘commitment’ for your organization. I have a loose definition. Anytime I can stand before a board and say, “We can count on Jeff for $X,” this is a commitment. There will always be an ongoing relationship, stewardship, etc. For my definition, I just want to get to the point that I know how the funder plays into the plan (and you could call the funder to verify).This is important especially as you coach each other. “What do we need to do to get the commitment?” This is a great question to smoke out other issues. Maybe there hasn’t really been an ask.