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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

The Ask as a Dialogue, Not Always a Singular Moment


We wrapped up our annual boot camp yesterday afternoon. 40 For Impact Leaders have flown back to different parts of the country – a few cleared customs to other countries. We have a few message points we focus on in day II, one of them being the meaning of dialogue and the importance of dialogue throughout every moment of the sales process.

Dialogue is give and take. It’s asking questions and listening… actually taking the time to process the answer. Sometimes it’s just a lot of listening. It’s engaging the prospect in the presentation… it’s making the presentation about the prospect, not about what you have to say. It’s also about discovery, using questions to learn real information.

This is all in contrast to a monologue or a moment . A monologue is one-sided, not engaging and fails to build on any information from the prospect. By ‘a moment’ I mean asking and then waiting for the answer… stopping at conversation with the prospect’s response.

As a reminder, there are three parts to every visit.

– The Opening
– The Story (at altitude covering your Purpose, Priorities and Plan)
– The Presentation of the Opportunity (the ASK!)

When you present the opportunity the dialogue continues until you meet one of the three conditions:

  1. You have the commitment matching the opportunity presented. (Eg. You asked for $250K for a project and the prospect has committed $250K for that project).
  2. You have a roadmap for the commitment. (eg. The prospect says, “I’m very interested in helping but have a few more questions first and I would like to make that decision in Q3…” Key idea is that you know what it would take to move toward commitment… you have a roadmap.”)
  3. You receive new and concrete information that adjusts your understanding of the prospect’s capacity or relationship / interest to the organization or project. (Eg. “Nick we can’t make that level commitment.” You continue the dialogue to determine more about capacity and relationship. “We want to help but $20K would be a very large gift for us right now.” You now have new information forming a new rationale – can continue the dialogue to create a wonderful opportunity around a $20K project or $20K/year.)

Apply the conditions above to this scenario. You ask for $100K to underwrite a science program for the 2010-2011 school year. You have a great visit, the prospect says to come back in two weeks for a follow-up and a decision. You have your roadmap (condition 2). You come back and he says, “I can do $10K”.

This is A commitment but it doesn’t satisfy the conditions.

  1. Does not address THE ask. $100K for Science Program. He hasn’t said yes or no.
  2. You don’t have any information about whether or not you can get to $100K. No roadmap.
  3. You don’t know if he’s saying he doesn’t have $100K or if he’s only 1/10th as interested as you thought.

CONTINUE THE DIALOGUE.

“That’s fantastic. When we were last together we discussed the program. Would it be possible to talk about funding the entire program?”

CONTINUE THE DIALOGUE until one of the three conditions is met.

There are countless ways to ask the key is to realize the dialogue is not over. If you get this concept (and you’re already asking) it will triple your results – at least.

For thinking’s sake: Would it be easier to tag on a few more questions to someone that you’ve worked months to see, strategize and ask? Or, would it be easier, to do that entire process ten more times?