For Impact


Sales Principles

Sales (Major Gifts) Process | | Nick Fellers

You’re in sales, get over it!” – Tom Suddes

As fundraisers, we’re in sales! We are selling the vision or the impact.

We train and coach executive directors, board members, and development staff around a sales model and process; the goal is to build a true and sustaining sales culture. Before we dive into model and process, we anchor the culture with PRINCIPLES. 

Here are some For Impact Sales Principles to get you started with your team:

  • Maximize relationships at this given moment.
    Development professionals often fall on one of two extremes. The first extreme is too transactional — always about the next gift. The second extreme is so focused on relationship-building that an ask never happens. When we think about maximizing the relationship at this given moment, we are able to drive the focus toward both the human connection (relationship) and the urgency and specificity of how they can help, right now.
  • 97/3, 1:1 and (Top) 10 (The Focus Principle)
    97/3 is like Pareto’s 80/20 rule on steroids. Over time, an organization focused on strategic philanthropy will generally observe that ninety-seven percent of funds come from three percent of its funders. We focus on that top 3% – building relationships, strategies, and asks accordingly. (Build communication and mass-engagement strategies for the other 97%.)

    1:1 means to focus on one-on-one relationships/visits/asks to build and maximize relationships.

    And prioritize your focus around your Top 10 prospects every year. They will deliver the greatest return-on-energy and greatest return-on-investment (in dollars and connections), year-over-year.  

    “Spend more time with better prospects.” – Brian Tracy
  • Plan around Prospects, not Programs.
    Build your funding (action) plan around your top prospect strategies and a routine that maximizes the time you spend in front of prospects.

    This is very different than building your plan around traditional development functions – like the annual event, or a mail campaign.
  • Drive to the ask. Drive to the commitment. (JUST ASK!)
    When will we make the ask? Pick a date! When we simply say, “It’s not the right time to ask,” we’re letting the strategy happen to us. Instead, create the strategy to make the ask happen. Then continue that strategy, focus and persistence to get the commitment.
  • Don’t make decisions for your prospects.
    This is another principle about ATTITUDE. Present the opportunity to prospects. It’s not our job to decide whether or not the prospect wants to change and impact lives, and our society. It’s our job to show them how we have an impact and show them how they can help.
  • “Engage, then plan.”
    When asked what made Intel so successful in the 1990s, retiring chairman Andy Grove said, “We had to engage, then plan.” This is a perfect principle for strategic philanthropy. The ask is dynamic and responsive to the prospect’s messaging/interest. We’ll never really be able to finish the strategy until we engage the prospect.

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