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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

8 Big Prospecting Questions


You’ve just had the fourth straight board meeting in which you asked for names… but you didn’t get any. Yes… I AM psychic! [sarcasm]

This happens in hundreds of meetings everyday. It’s not fruitful. What board members hear is this question, “Who do you know that has money that you could go ask?” There is no context for the names… we don’t have a grasp on what will happen with the names (story, process, etc) and we’re not sure what a prospect really looks like.

At a higher level, we need to think in a more strategic way about all prospects… about maximizing relationships… the definition of a prospect and how to generate more qualified prospects.

For prospecting, think about how you can use these big questions internally and externally.

  1. Who are our top 10 best prospects?

    Before you think about new prospects the most important thing you can do is write down you top 10 beest prospects (in descending order of importance). Most organizations… most businesses… don’t do this. Having a top 10 is fundamental. Then we can ask the next strategic question…

  2. Have we maximized our best relationships?

    If not, why?

    As For Impact coaches we’re adamant about getting you a working story and process before adding more names. More names won’t do any good if you’re not maximizing the names you have already. If orgs aren’t not maximizing relationships it’s usually because

    • They don’t have a clear message or compelling story.
    • They’re not asking.
    • They’re not follow-up up… closing.
  3. What would it mean to maximize this relationship?

    Take any prospect, new or existing and work to answer this question. It’s very different from asking, “How much should we ask for?” It’s strategic and looks at the RELATIONSHIP in a bigger context.

  4. “Can you think of 2-3 names that match our IDEAL PROFILE?”

    This is the single best question you can ask to IDENTIFY new prospects.

    Action: Create an Ideal Profile with 6-8 characteristics of an ideal funder. For example,

    i. Female entrepreneur
    ii. Age 55-65
    iii. Grew up in North Carolina
    iv. Loves mountain climbing.

    These are a few characteristics from one project. Everything on the list is objective… making it easier to form associations.

    Tip: Much better to have 1:1 conversations with board members and champions around the ideal profile than a group discussion with an open call for names. More successful on an order of 100:1.

  5. How do we put together a $1M funding plan with prospects we’ve visited in the past six months?

    Most of us (maybe all of us?) have ‘money on the table’. This question creates a constraint for thinking.

    Obviously, insert your number.

  6. Who are the LEADERS around our CAUSE?

    The CAUSE is the WHY. It’s the PROBLEM. It’s the MOVEMENT. Identify the top leaders in your CAUSE or FIELD. You need to be with them for two reasons.

    • It’s impossible for you to maximize your impact if you’re not in conversation with (maybe even partnership with) those LEADING the CAUSE.
    • By virtue of being LEADERS they may be funders OR they would have a network with the top funders.

    More: See Incongruent that not with top funders to your cause.

  7. What does our diaspora look like?

    Diaspora is a greek term meaning ‘the scattering of seeds’. You often hear it in conjunction with nation-states and heritage. Eg. The Jewish Diaspora… the Irish Diaspora.

    Diaspora is a frame to expand the identification process when an entire team generates only a handful of names. Typically the team has a very limiting definition for prospect, such as ‘those that have a lot of money and said they want to help.’

    Diaspora expands the conversation to ‘all relationships’ but it can be a great frame if the team is stuck with a limiting definition of ‘prospect’.

    We’ve facilitated sessions where switching from ‘prospect’ to ‘diaspora’ has moved the list from three names to 65,000… literally. Then the challenge is prioritizing, which is generally more favorable than identifying.

  8. How can we use projects to drive prospects?

    QP <-> QP3

    The process goes both ways.

    Through this point we’ve only thought of identifying Qualified Prospects (QP)… so that we can match them to Qualified Projects, Priorities and Programs (QP3).

    The inverse also works. Use the Qualified Projects, Priorities and Programs to drive your list of Qualified Prospects.

    • Have a transportation project? Who’s in the transportation business?
    • Transforming education? Who are leading business innovators in this space?
    • One of the spaces in your new building a kitchen? Who does kitchens?