Similarities Between Sales and Fundraising

Thanks to Geoffrey James of Sales Machine for penning How to Sell B2B in a Nutshell! As I read Geoffrey’s post I noted how similar it is to our work cultivating and soliciting donors. Geoff recommends sales folks keep a copy in their wallets, I suggest any great fundraiser do the same! Italics are mine.

Selling B2B fundraising is not difficult.  In fact, it’s ridiculously easy.  All you need do is follow these 18 extremely simple steps: Very like the Five I’s of Fundraising….

Before the Sale: Identify the prospect, research and focus

#1: Focus on top prospects and contact them frequently. Major gift cultivation
#2: Research prospects prior to each meeting. It’s all about donor needs – research what those are.
#3: Commit time and energy to making the sale. Cultivation precedes solicitation for a reason.
#4: Truly desire to help the prospect. Repeating #2 – it’s all about the donor and what’s in it for them?
#5: Transcend the need to make the sale. Stewardship, follow up, lather, rinse, repeat.

During the Sale: Interest and information – learn as much as you can about the donors interest

#6: Listen more than you talk. You have two ears, two eyes and one mouth – use them proportionately!
#7: Cultivate insider “coaches” to learn requirements.
#8: Communicate unique value. What does your nonprofit do to save lives and change lives?
#9: Interface well with your support staff. Communicate with staff and Board effectively
#10: Solve problems as a consultant. Be prepared!
#11: Meet deadlines for customer milestones. Deliver on follow up, recognition, answer questions
#12: Recognize when a sale is not going to happen. Ditto
#13: Recognize when the prospect is ready to buy. The right ask, at the right time, from the right donor

After the Sale: Involvement, Investment and Donor Stewardship

#14: Get referrals and follow up on them. Start identifying new prospects with current donors
#15: Appreciate and thank the customer. We can never say thank you enough in many different ways
#16: Express thanks towards those who helped. Everyone who helped you get in the door and cultivate the donor
#17: Create a long-term relationship. Always cultivate for the long-term


#18: Keep a sense of proportion.

Geoffrey’s blog was based upon a conversation with John Asher the CEO of the eponymous sales training firm, along with inputs from the Sales Machine community.

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