What’s the narrative that brings you and the prospect together? The reason for the visit?
We’ve been using this a lot in our discussions around prospect strategy. Absent of the framing the story looks a little like this: I’m Nick, as you can see from my title, I’m a major gifts officer and so I’m coming to talk to you about money.
Easy to see how that one might create a little call reluctance on the part of the major gifts officer and lot of objections from the invitee. Impact drives Income… absent of the why-we’re-meeting it’s ALL about the income.
The Story for the Visit should be authentic, interesting and communicate a reason to meet face-to-face.
An incomplete list of storylines for visits.
- • Storytelling: This is one of my favorites. Very earnest. Very literal. We can’t advance our impact unless we’re out – on the street – sharing our story.
- “We’re taking the next six months to get out and tell our story… to engage with funders, stakeholders and community leaders one-on-one.”
- • Listening: Hillary Clinton got a bump in her 2008 campaign after she embarked upon a listening tour. Listening is the strongest way to ENGAGE. It’s a great way to build relationships.
- • Networking or Introduction: Great, authentic reason to be meeting. Usually with the introduction from a champion.
- Example communication from a champion on your behalf, “Jason is a fiery and passionate visionary in this community. As someone who leads in this community, I think it’s important that you and Jason know each other. On an individual level, I think it will be a worthwhile use of time for each of you… I think and hope these benefits will transfer to community impact… whether you take an interest in supporting XYZ cause or simply through the future interactions this relationship might create.”
- This is WAY better than asking a busy champion to invite a busy friend to an event (hoping that FROM the event we can get a follow-up visit). Cut to the chase!
- • Casting the Vision (Preparation / Leadership Consensus Building): This is AHEAD of a major funding initiative. This is the story when you authentically hope to see the prospect’s engagement to strengthen your VISION (whether through time, ideas, connections, investment, etc.) Most of the time you can go so far as to say, “Before we would talk to you about an investment, it makes sense to talk to you about the plan – to get your input and feedback.”
- Example: “Vision 2015 includes the launch of an entrepreneurial institute for urban youth. At all levels – vision, strategy, execution – it makes sense for us to be engaging with area entrepreneurs as we explore this vision. Could we visit for 30 minutes to share our plans and get your feedback? At the end of the visit we’ll also ask for your interest in becoming engaged.”
- Important notes:
• We’re not real big on feasibility studies. Would much rather be sharing the vision – truly – instead of asking a bunch of questions on a scale of 1-10 with NO engagement.
• I hope the point about VISION is not lost in this post. We’re visiting with these folks to STRENGTHEN THE VISION (read: intent). Of COURSE this will include investment in many cases.
- • Cause Summit: Let’s say you’re working on national education reform. It’s impossible (to me) that you would not be meeting with the Gates Foundation, for example.
- “But they’re hard to meet with!”
- It’s much harder to ACTUALLY make a dent in education reform without talking to an organization that has funded hundreds of organizations to this aim.
- Whether or not they fund you is not reason you should be meeting – it is a byproduct of the reason.
- This is usually the framing for a meeting when the funder has all the money in the world… when the funder LEADS your CAUSE. In these instances, it’s not about the money… it’s about strengthening your impact (and the funders). If there’s a fit, there’s a fit… And funds will probably follow. If there’s not… the funder still needs to be aware of what you’re doing and we need to be open enough to benefit from the leader’s perspective.
- • Follow-up: Straightforward. Usually in response to strong predisposition (e.g. At a previous meeting).
- • Presenting the Opportunity (The Ask): Straightforward, again. Used after strong predisposition or existing relationship. Here you’re actually saying, “We want to come talk to you about [this specific project] and ask for your help.”