Leigh Steinberg is a sports agent who represented the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft a record eight times – a milestone unmatched within the sports industry.
Steinberg is often credited as the real life inspiration of the sports agent from the film Jerry Maguire.
Reportedly, Steinberg had a chief aim when going into any negotiation – to get the person he was with to agree that his athlete was the best (fill in the blank: quarterback, running back, etc) in the league. Once he got them to agree the rest of the negotiation was pretty easy.
Selling happens at 30,000′.
The number one question of every investor is, “Why do you exist?”
If the person you are talking to doesn’t care about your WHY, it’s very hard to talk to her about the what and the how. Conversely, if your WHY is her number one priority (i.e. you have the best running back in the league), you need establish that fact as early as possible.
We’re reposting some of OG’s greatest hits – Here he is with the companion audio to the Campaign Manifesto: Take a Quantum Leap. If you know us well you’ve heard the first 5-10 minutes of intro – Feel free to scoot past!
This week’s theme is: Commit to SHARING THE STORY and PRESENTING THE OPPORTUNITY!
Why do we cultivate people?
As Tom always reminds me, “Cultivation is that thing you do with plants and manure.”
We really, truly don’t understand ‘cultivation.’ We are in the business of saving, changing, and impacting lives. If you can help people understand your impact and they want to help then they don’t need cultivation -They need to be asked!
Here’s a simple story to emphasize the point. Imagine that you and your prospect were walking around a lake and came upon a drowning child. What would that prospect do? It’s likely she would jump in, fully clothed, committed to saving the life of the child. And so would you. Try to imagine this same scenario where you would first try to spend years getting this person interested in saving children (read: cultivation.)
So, if you’re actually saving or changing lives then you can’t really argue that cultivation is needed. The issue at hand is much more about communication. That is, how you communicate your impact in such a way that is clear, concise and compelling. So clear, in fact, the prospect jumps on board (read: into the lake) to make a major investment in your impact.
If you can communicate the impact, the income will follow. If you can communicate the impact, you can ask for any amount of money on the first (sometimes second) visit. The challenge, again, is that we struggle with our message. Or, we might even have the message, but we’re not out visiting with people, one-on-one, to share the message and present the opportunity for them to help (or save the child.)
Your job is to communicate the impact, not spread manure. It’s blunt but we want to motivate you to action with this idea. You’re doing great things – so present the opportunity for someone to help now.
P.S. If you think this example is too simplistic or unrealistic, please know that this same example is what set into motion the greatest philanthropist of our era – We’ve altered the lake example somewhat but borrowed it from noted philosopher and ethicist Peter Singer who wrote an amazing article in the New York Times, “What Should a Billionaire Give – and What Should You?” In that article he also explains Bill Gates’ moment of clarity around impact that moved him to action.
Nixing the event and focusing on getting more visits is a simpler, more productive approach. It may feel challenging to work through the ‘but-what-about-objections.’ So, here’s a few ideas:
You need a good message and story for the visit. Absent of this people hear (and what creates our reluctance) is “Can I come and ask you for money?” If instead people heard (and we believed), “We’re having an amazing impact and need more people like you to know about it!” (Read more The Story for the Visit here.)
The first visit doesn’t need to be an ambush for money. Quite the opposite – the goal should be to ENGAGE. To LISTEN. And then to overwhelm the other person with the IMPACT so that he or she says, “This is incredible, how can I help?”
This shift in thinking save hundreds of hours, thousands and thousands in fundraising costs and countless lives (because we will generate much more INCOME for our IMPACT).
After you’ve walked through the vision and funding priorities, you come to the
funding plan and ask:
Based on everything we’ve talked about, I would love to ask you about being part of this plan. Mrs. X, I’m not really sure where to go. I don’t know much about your capacity but you’ve indicated you would ‘like to make a really big difference’.
We have several funders on board with us [checking off – with a pen – committed gifts]. I
would like to go this route and ask you, where do you see yourself?
(You can let the prospect think about it and respond. As with any question, it’s critical that
you LISTEN to the answer and PROCESS the response.)
The prospect responded by saying “I think I could only do this [pointing to $50,000] this year.” Key words: THIS. YEAR.
Important note: Obviously you can’t use the Clueless Close when you’re with your top prospects. If you know you NEED to ask for $1M or you NEED to ask for project funding (tied to a specific number) you can’t afford to be clueless. Use the Clueless Close with first time funders when your funding plan is not dependent upon a specific commitment.
Be prepared for the answer.
On a different visit for the project, I tried to ask the same question, but that prospect started laughing before I even finished. “Nick, I’m not on your chart.”
I paused and said: Could you tell me more about what that means?
He responded, “My wife and I are committed to seven big projects right now.”
Key Words: RIGHT. NOW. These are big community philanthropists in the middle of some huge funding commitments. He was telling me that though he loved our project, it couldn’t be one of his top projects right now.
At the end of that visit, he committed to $10K. The goal of every visit is to maximize the relationship at this given moment. In this case, there was a lot of potential for the future as he and his wife finished up with other projects, and I now had more information about capacity than I had before.
The Takeaway: The Clueless Close is a great way to ask when you don’t know what to ask for. And you will no longer be ‘clueless’ after this close.
Click here to download audio on on the Clueless Close + 19 more Closes.
This is one of my favorite ‘soap box’ platforms. As a gardener and faux-farmer, I know ‘cultivation’ is when you spread manure on plants!
Think about it from the other side for a second. No one wants to be CULTIVATED.
They either get your Message and Impact or they don’t. They want to support your Cause and your Case or they don’t. Your Qualified Prospects/Investors truly do want to help, but they don’t want to have a multitude of meetings before they’re even told what it is that you actually WANT from them.
STARTMAXIMIZING RELATIONSHIPS … AT THIS GIVEN MOMENT!
Many of you are waiting for the ‘perfect time’ to make your ‘BIG’ request. The ‘perfect time’ to MAXIMIZE a RELATIONSHIP is always NOW… AT THIS GIVEN MOMENT!
MAXIMIZING RELATIONSHIPS could be an invitation to join a Leadership Group, President’s Circle, Impact Circle, etc. It could be Presenting an Opportunity to Leave a Legacy Gift. Or, it may be ‘THE’ moment … for ‘THE’ Gift … that truly TRANSFORMS your organization.
Remember: You’re in SALES. Get over it. Go ‘sell’ your Vision, your Ideas, your Priorities, Projects and Programs. Now.