In the sales world, there is such thing as an ‘assumptive close’. This is where a sales person ASSUMES the customer is ready to buy – So they skip past the close and work on the mechanics. For example, “Tell me when you would like to take receipt of your item and we can get started on the paperwork.”
In our social impact world, I’d like to repurpose TheAssumptive Close. I don’t think of this as a closing technique, instead, I think of it as an attitude and a mode of communication that helps you continue toward a closed commitment.
There are times when a prospect is CLEARLY ‘in’, but we haven’t yet confirmed the commitment. Perhaps you had a great visit and the prospect said, “I want to help – financially – give me some time to look at my other obligations…” If I were to coach you through this follow up strategy, I’d say, don’t think about HOW or IF you’re going to have a numbers conversation on the next visit. Instead, remember the prospect has already said, “I’m IN!!!!”
So, you can continue to move forward with this ASSUMPTION in the next conversation.
Too often, we see uncertainty and doubt creep in. I was with an Executive Director last week, and in this case, she was trying to figure out how to bring up the gift again. She had doubt about the commitment and – absent of a mental model – moved backward and started trying to figure out how to ask – again. Just thinking about this as an ‘Assumptive Close’ helped her frame the next conversation.
The predisposition (framing) for the next conversation was as simple as this: “I’m looking forward to getting together tomorrow and talking next steps. It’s great to know you’re ‘in’. We are so incredibly grateful for your support.”
You can ASSUME it will close and you can communicate with that belief in mind!
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?”
Instead, we PREDISPOSE the prospect or potential investor before, during and after the visit. We predispose them to our phone call to set up the visit … we predispose to the visit/presentation itself … and yes, we even predispose to the follow-up!
The word PREDISPOSE means to make someone inclined, in advance, to a specific action or attitude. You need to be predisposing potential investors:
To expect your contact,
To look forward to visiting with you about your amazing organization,
About your goals for the visit and how much time you need,
About when to expect your follow up and what you will be communicating in your follow up.
Teleseminars are a way for us to offer valuable training to our For Impact Community – in a short, ‘call in from anywhere’ format. Join us this Tuesday and Wednesday for two of our most popular topics:
The story you use to maximize funding…
The story that brings rockstar talent to your doorstep and fully engages your team…
The story that you tell yourself every day to stay focused and fulfilled.
Story adds passion, purpose and urgency to your message, plan and every day actions.
Is your story about needing more money? Or changing lives?
Do you have a good story that helps get to the ask?
Do we have a story that engages the board? Engaging them as passionate champions and advocates?
This 45 minute teleseminar will:
Share examples of stories used at organizations to help them with these questions.
Address common challenges to funding, action and engagement.
Give you several actionable tools use can use to DISCOVER your story and make it AWESOME.
Record what happened on the visit. Someone on your team should be able to pick-up the memo and continue the conversation. In most cases, you can have a sheet of paper out to take notes during the visit. I’m amazed at how often sales people don’t take notes!
Use quotes. THIS IS IMPORTANT!!!! The best message in the world is the one that comes from the prospect’s mouth. Capture words and exact phrases used by the prospect(s); put them in quotes.
Bad: Prospect seemed to like our program.
Good: “Of everything you’re doing, I honestly don’t really care about the after-school program but I think the summer program has mountains of potential.”
Have you ever finished a great visit and had the prospect say, “This is great – Can you get me a proposal?”
If someone asks this we need to simplify on the spot – “Sure thing. Are you an email person?” (Everyone is.) “Would it be okay if I summarized our conversation in bullet point form and shot that back by email?”
Save yourself HOURS by converting ‘proposals’ to ‘bullet points.’
I’m constantly trying to get people to think about what it means TO ENGAGE! I think we’re taught how to present, but we’re not always taught how to engage.
I define engagement as a dynamic within a relationship that holds attention, heightens interest and motivates action.
Think about a movie or a performance you’ve attended where you were engaged and left with that feeling of being present and excited. Think about how that engagement consumed your mind! Now think about how you felt the next day.
I believe engagement has a 12-hour half-life. That is, if we could measure engagement in some way, it seems to dissipate by half every 12 hours.
This means that within 24 hours of your visit the prospect has an engagement level at 25% of what it was after your visit.
THINK ABOUT THE IMPLICATIONS!
As salespeople, we need to be making engaging presentations and asks. And, more importantly, we need to pounce on timely follow-up. It’s better to follow-up immediately, even if it’s 60% of your best effort, than it is to wait three days. At three or more days you’re just working to recapture engagement.
Like predisposition, follow-up requires a specific strategy. Too often, wonderful presentations/asks/sales visits are wasted because there is no follow-up.
A typical scenario includes someone making a great presentation and then ‘hoping’ a gift comes as a result of the ask. Or, sometimes there is only a phone call that comes weeks (or months) later in which the substance of the dialogue is one question: “We were wondering if you had a chance to make a decision?”
It’s probably impossible to misquote or butcher one of Yogi Berra’s malapropisms, but here goes:
“Half of the game is presentation. The other 90% is follow-up.”
Huge problem: We consider our work finished when we get to the point of making the request. We feel like we’ve shared everything we can and now it must be in the prospect’s hands. That notion is wrong. In fact, follow-up is 90% of the effort!
Some reminders to help you with follow up:
This is not some one-off transaction. It’s all about a true relationship. Follow-up is about advancing the relationship, opportunity or plan WITH the prospect.
It’s either win/win or lose/lose! You’re presenting an opportunity to save lives, change lives or impact lives. Stop being so bashful.
Follow-up is about taking the opportunity to continue the excitement generated on the visit. You’re need to keep the momentum. This could mean:
An immediate follow-up letter.
An immediate follow-up phone call from champion or volunteer.
An immediate follow-up phone call from you.
Don’t dodge the issue! The worst follow-up is when you step politely around the pending request (hoping the prospect brings it up or announces to you a commitment.) Using your own style you need continue to work with prospect to advance the ball – be direct, sincere and authentic and remember – Hope is not a strategy.
This week’s theme is: COMMIT TO BETTER PREDISPOSITION.
You’ve seen our rant on “No More Special Events.” If not, I’ll summarize here: SPECIAL EVENTS ARE NOT ‘SPECIAL!’
They rarely generate income anywhere close to the corresponding staff and volunteer effort and time – Even though we’ve spent more that half the year selling tables, sponsoring golf holes or lining up silent auction items.
P.S. Not only do your volunteers and staff hate these Non-Special Events, so do all of the ‘INVITEES’ … who clearly don’t want to go to another ‘un-memorable, time-away-from their-family’ auction, gala, ‘fundraiser’!!!
Instead, MAKE EVERYTHING YOU DO A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE!
A ‘MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE’ is about your Vision, your Message, your Impact.
Every ‘MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE’ is an incredible PREDISPOSITION OPPORTUNITY.
A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE isn’t about the number of people in attendance, it’s about getting the best people in attendance. Instead of selling tables, think about getting the best 10 prospects you have in the room (preferably your room) and knock their socks off with the IMPACT.