Here’s a topic that comes up often with some of our coaching clients – Especially when there is lack of role clarity around maximizing relationships!
A NATURAL PARTNER (N.P.) is a person (either inside or outside of your organization) who has a strong relationship with your organization and an existing relationship with the Qualified Prospect(Q.P.) – Or a reason to believe one can be established quickly!
Externally, Natural Partners can be on your Board, they can have a business relationship with the prospect, they can be members of the same club or organization or they can be fellow community leaders, etc.
Internally, the Natural Partner can be anyone from the President/Executive Director to top senior leadership, to a staff/programming person who has a great relationship with the prospect.
It’s important that you determine the difference between a RELATIONSHIP MANAGER (R.M.) and a NATURAL PARTNER.
The RELATIONSHIP MANAGER does not necessarily have to have an existing relationship with the prospect. Their job is to do exactly what it says – MANAGE THE RELATIONSHIP. The Relationship Manager is always a member of the ‘Green Team’ – I.e., directly responsible for maximizing relationships on behalf of the organization/impact. It is perfectly fine for multiple people within the organization to have a relationship with a Q.P. – as long as the Relationship Manager has been defined.
The NATURAL PARTNER can have an existing relationship, or the ability to create one immediately, but most importantly, they play and instrumental role in Team Selling. They can:
Help get the visit! Opening doors is one of the most productive things N.P. can do!
Predispose the Prospect to a great visit! A N.P. can send a great note ahead of the visit – “I know you’re meeting with Sharon on Friday – I’m so excited for the two of you to meet, for you to hear about the vision and getting more involved in our impact! I’ll check in with you after”
Follow Up! A call from the Natural Partner (after a check in with the R.M.) can be hugely beneficial. “How did it go? What did you think? What can I do to help?”
Here’s a simple question: Would Apple or Microsoft or Starbucks (or any other company) ask ‘VOLUNTEERS’ to do their ‘SALES’?
Just the idea of the word ‘SOLICITATION’ (the implication of which I cannot go into in a PG-13 document), should be enough to make you give up on this 1950’s “Peer-To-Peer Solicitation” model!
Instead, a PROFESSIONAL PRESENTATION involves PROFESSIONAL STAFF engaged in CONVERSATION and DIALOGUE with a goal of MAXIMIZING THE RELATIONSHIP! It’s a PROFESSIONAL PERFORMANCE with PROFESSIONAL FOLLOW-UP.
Note: In the Old Model, a typical ‘ask’ by a peer (to a peer) goes “I have your (3 x 5) card. Can you give something? Just send it in.” WOW! Clear. Concise. Compelling. (NOT!)
Here are 7 pretty solid reasons not to use VOLUNTEERS to make SOLO SOLICITATIONS:
DESIRE, ENTHUSIASM, PERSISTENCE. How many of your volunteers really, really, really like to ask a friend for money? If presented as such, these volunteers lack key ingredients for sales success: ENTHUSIASM and PERSISTENCE. It is professional staff’s mission and responsibility to Present The Opportunity to Qualified Prospects.
TRADING DOLLARS. Every volunteer knows that whenever they ask one of their friends/peers for money, they will soon be asked back for that person’s favorite cause. This system of ‘trading dollars’ certainly does not allow for aggressively MAXIMIZING RELATIONSHIPS. Professional staff are objective, fair and committed to helping their prospective investor feel great about their commitment.
TIME. Volunteers basically have none. Their other business priorities and family obligations make it very difficult to fulfill volunteer duties. Professional staff, on the other hand, are focused and dedicated to Presenting The Opportunity to as many Qualified Prospects AS POSSIBLE.
ACCOUNTABILITY & FOLLOW-UP. With a volunteer, there isn’t any! “I saw so and so at a party, and I think they might do something.” Even if they make a visit or accompany on a visit, they will not think about following up and assuring their commitment. Professional staff do a memo for the record on every visit. They send a great follow-up letter summarizing the visit and the opportunity. They make a phone call on a specific date to determine the level of commitment and finalize the details with the investor.
TRAINING. Most volunteers have not been trained in how to make this kind of presentation. Many don’t understand sales, the sales process, presentation flow and framework. Even for our most incredible champions, very few have the time to become properly knowledgeable about the institution/organization and the investment opportunities available. Professional staff should be well trained. They know as much as they need to know about the organization. They are involved in ongoing professional and personal development. They understand that success is a combination of ATTITUDE and SKILL.
PREPARATION. Even with the best of volunteers, asking their assistant for directions on the way out the door is their idea of preparing for the call. Professional staff go over the Knowledge Base Worksheet, Relationship Strategy Checklist, the Visit Checklist, and have a goal for every visit.
THE VISIT ITSELF. Most volunteers begin with “How’s your family?” or “How’s your golf game?” Then move to “I got your 3×5 card.” “They want money.” “Do what you can.” When faced with a question, a challenge, or an objection, most volunteers retreat immediately. Great development and For Impact professionals know the Framework and Flow of the visit. They know how to ask questions and listen. They respond to investors’ feelings and react with creativity and flexibility. They deal with challenges and most importantly, they ask!
Special, Special Note: This is not a ‘bash the volunteer‘ list. Rather, it’s an attempt to help you re-think and re-invent the role of your VOLUNTEER LEADERS.
Volunteer Leaders, Board Members and Current Investors are all a huge part of the TEAM SELLING process. GREAT VOLUNTEER LEADERS and GREAT BOARD MEMBERS are literally worth their weight in gold. They should be used before, during and after the VISIT but, they should never be used ALONE!
*Interesting: The word ‘voluntary’ is defined as: ‘organ solo played in church before, during or after a service.’