For Impact


A Sales Process

For Impact Ideas, Sales (Major Gifts) Process | | Nick Fellers

“You’re in sales… get over it!”

Tom first said this (that I recall) at a workshop in 2001.  He had developed a Sales Process for The Suddes Group several years earlier and we’ve been teaching around this sales process ever since – helping organizations build a sales teams, model and culture.

At a high level this process has two components: PLAN and EXECUTION.

The Plan:

The Execution:

The Plan components are pretty simple:

  • Case for Support: Every organizations needs to know WHAT to say (the message, the story, etc).
  • Presentation Design: And HOW to say it.
  • Qualified Prospects: And of course SOMEBODY to say it to.

Case for Support: This is not one-in-the same as a case statement.  I’m fonder of the prep work that organizations usually pile into the case statement process than the actual case statement – which amounts to a long document that nobody reads.
To me a case for support is about honing in on your message.  It’s about:

  • SIMPLIFYING that message
  • Pulling out the ENGAGING pieces
  • Answering the common questions for your org, your project or your campaign.
  • Communicating the WHY (cause and case), the WHAT (again, simplifying what you do or your priorities) and the HOW you’re going to get it done which includes either a funding PLAN or funding RATIONALE.

Most Case Statements spend too much time outlining the need with statistics.  You’re not going to convince your best prospects of the need (the CAUSE).  You’re going to sell your best on the SOLUTION (the CASE).  As well, I think most case statements neglect to dive into the funding plan.  One common reason campaigns don’t succeed is that top prospects aren’t convinced you have a PLAN to be successful with your overall funding goal.

Our case-for-support-shorthand is around simplifying the PURPOSE (at 30,000′).  The THREE funding PRIORITIES (at 14,000’) and funding PLAN (at 3′).
Presentation Design: It’s equally important to figure out HOW you’re going to engage people with your CASE.  Not PowerPoint’s, not fancy brochures… but experiences, tours, mind-maps… The questions you’re going to ask to create engagement.

In 1952 Walt Disney created a 4’x6′ storyboard illustrating Disneyland at night.  This visual design was what finally secured financing for Disneyland.  As he said, “Bankers don’t have any imagination, none at all.”  After reading this story we’ve often DESIGNED big storyboard engagement tools to draw people into the Case for Support.
Qualified Prospects: Without offering any guidance around our version of PREP most organizations will say they have a challenge with prospects.  We find they are better equipped around prospects than they think… and usually we find they need more work around the CASE and the DESIGN.  Prospects is about three things:

  1. Identifying prospects:  The single best way is to create an IDEAL PROFILE and share this with others to generate names.  Asking for prospects (without guidance) will get you nowhere.
  2. Prioritizing prospects: Build a Master Prospect List – a list of your most important prospects in descending order of importance.  Work from this list.  Live this list.
  3. Strategize prospects: Take the time to create a unique strategy for each prospect.  Don’t ‘wing it’.

In terms of Execution you can repeat again and again.  I could offer an infinite level of explanation I want to reinforce the simplicity and the discipline in following these three steps:

Predisposition: This is not a ‘step’; it’s a mindset.  Predisposition is everything you can do to make it NOT a cold call.  It’s also the part of the strategy to GET the visit.

Presenting the Opportunity: In the sales process most prospects can be ASKED on the first visit.  With bigger prospects you might move to a two-visit strategy – discovery and then the presentation (ASK) but never 6, 7, 8,etc. visits.

A good litmus test to know if there was a REAL ASK:  Could you follow-up and confirm the ask…with a number… in writing?  If not, was probably more of a murky exploration than a real ask.
Follow-up: See my notes on How to Follow-up.  This is where the money comes in.  This is where most organizations drop the ball.  If you can’t follow-up then you don’t need more prospects, you need to get better at following up.

  • Follow-up with the ask, in writing.  Then DRIVE The follow-up with the prospect… ball is in your court.
  • Complete a memo-for-the-record to create institutional memory.
  • Follow-up with yourself – be your own coach.  What could you improve for next time.