In the sales world, there is such thing as an ‘assumptive close’. This is where a sales person ASSUMES the customer is ready to buy – So they skip past the close and work on the mechanics. For example, “Tell me when you would like to take receipt of your item and we can get started on the paperwork.”
In our social impact world, I’d like to repurpose TheAssumptive Close. I don’t think of this as a closing technique, instead, I think of it as an attitude and a mode of communication that helps you continue toward a closed commitment.
There are times when a prospect is CLEARLY ‘in’, but we haven’t yet confirmed the commitment. Perhaps you had a great visit and the prospect said, “I want to help – financially – give me some time to look at my other obligations…” If I were to coach you through this follow up strategy, I’d say, don’t think about HOW or IF you’re going to have a numbers conversation on the next visit. Instead, remember the prospect has already said, “I’m IN!!!!”
So, you can continue to move forward with this ASSUMPTION in the next conversation.
Too often, we see uncertainty and doubt creep in. I was with an Executive Director last week, and in this case, she was trying to figure out how to bring up the gift again. She had doubt about the commitment and – absent of a mental model – moved backward and started trying to figure out how to ask – again. Just thinking about this as an ‘Assumptive Close’ helped her frame the next conversation.
The predisposition (framing) for the next conversation was as simple as this: “I’m looking forward to getting together tomorrow and talking next steps. It’s great to know you’re ‘in’. We are so incredibly grateful for your support.”
You can ASSUME it will close and you can communicate with that belief in mind!
Leigh Steinberg is a sports agent who represented the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft a record eight times – a milestone unmatched within the sports industry.
Steinberg is often credited as the real life inspiration of the sports agent from the film Jerry Maguire.
Reportedly, Steinberg had a chief aim when going into any negotiation – to get the person he was with to agree that his athlete was the best (fill in the blank: quarterback, running back, etc) in the league. Once he got them to agree the rest of the negotiation was pretty easy.
Selling happens at 30,000′.
The number one question of every investor is, “Why do you exist?”
If the person you are talking to doesn’t care about your WHY, it’s very hard to talk to her about the what and the how. Conversely, if your WHY is her number one priority (i.e. you have the best running back in the league), you need establish that fact as early as possible.
Just last week we had all of our coaches together for a few days at Eagle Creek and we spent several hours on FOLLOW-UP.
In the For Impact world, there are three parts of a great ASK:
PREDISPOSITION → PRESENTATION → FOLLOW-UP
Many times the third piece is either completely dropped or mostly an afterthought, “I met with them. I’ll wait for them to get back with me.” UGH! This could be the worst mistake of any VISIT/ASK.
Going through the effort to Get a Visit… Share the Story… Present the Opportunity… and then NOT following up is not only wrong – it’s disrespectful! When it comes to Follow-Up, the ball is always in your court.
I believe FOLLOW-UP needs to be given as much (if not more) attention than the first two parts of an ask. At the very least, these are three equal parts. I don’t have exact numbers, but I can confidently say that most of my asks are CLOSED in the third act.
There is nothing worse than having an ask pend into oblivion. Use the FOLLOW-UP to maintain control of the relationship:
“Could I check in with you next Friday?”
“Can we talk after your visit with your financial planner?”
“We have a Board Meeting in two weeks and I would love to be able to share your commitment with the Board.”
*It’s probably impossible to misquote or butcher one of Yogi Berra’s malapropisms, but here goes:
“Half of the game is presentation. The other 90% is follow-up.”
A quick nugget on Follow Up: Practice the 36-HOUR RULE.
Complete all follow-up (with your organization, with your prospect and with yourself) within 36 hours of the visit. 80% well done follow up (in 36 hours) beats 90% – 100% perfect (in 3 weeks). The more time elapsed, the less you remember and the less they feel!
After you’ve walked through the vision and funding priorities, you come to the
funding plan and ask:
Based on everything we’ve talked about, I would love to ask you about being part of this plan. Mrs. X, I’m not really sure where to go. I don’t know much about your capacity but you’ve indicated you would ‘like to make a really big difference’.
We have several funders on board with us [checking off – with a pen – committed gifts]. I
would like to go this route and ask you, where do you see yourself?
(You can let the prospect think about it and respond. As with any question, it’s critical that
you LISTEN to the answer and PROCESS the response.)
The prospect responded by saying “I think I could only do this [pointing to $50,000] this year.” Key words: THIS. YEAR.
Important note: Obviously you can’t use the Clueless Close when you’re with your top prospects. If you know you NEED to ask for $1M or you NEED to ask for project funding (tied to a specific number) you can’t afford to be clueless. Use the Clueless Close with first time funders when your funding plan is not dependent upon a specific commitment.
Be prepared for the answer.
On a different visit for the project, I tried to ask the same question, but that prospect started laughing before I even finished. “Nick, I’m not on your chart.”
I paused and said: Could you tell me more about what that means?
He responded, “My wife and I are committed to seven big projects right now.”
Key Words: RIGHT. NOW. These are big community philanthropists in the middle of some huge funding commitments. He was telling me that though he loved our project, it couldn’t be one of his top projects right now.
At the end of that visit, he committed to $10K. The goal of every visit is to maximize the relationship at this given moment. In this case, there was a lot of potential for the future as he and his wife finished up with other projects, and I now had more information about capacity than I had before.
The Takeaway: The Clueless Close is a great way to ask when you don’t know what to ask for. And you will no longer be ‘clueless’ after this close.
Click here to download audio on on the Clueless Close + 19 more Closes.