Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Is Your Job To Serve Or To Sell?

Back in 2011,  one of my favorite fundraising blogs, Passionate Giving, penned by major giving experts Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry, posted about a new year's resolution they suggested all fundraisers adopt for that year. Make sure you are serving your donor, not selling them. Jeff shared an experience he had in an Apple store when it was clear, to his chagrin, that he could have been easily "sold" a solution to a computer problem he had by chucking his old computer and upgrade to a more expensive and newer model, but wasn't. He asked the salesperson why he wasn't trying to sell him a new iPad? The salesperson's said he was there to make his experience the best it could be, show him the product and let the product sell itself. He added, "We don't get commission on sales. It is all about serving the needs of the customer." Jeff continued, "I didn't buy the iPad that night, nor were they able to fix my software problem (it was a Microsoft product), but I left feeling so good about my experience that I can't think about NOT buying an Apple product in the future."

Do our donor interactions leave them with the same sort of feeling? If the moment was not right to make a gift, do they walk away feeling they couldn't even think about NOT giving to our organization when they are ready to contribute? If our objective is to sell them, put another notch in our "closed deal belt", then it will likely fail. Serving our donor demands more listening, research, and interaction. It will be necessary to unearth what our donor's goals or interests are that need to be served.  It must be more than just identifying financial capacity or finding out about their other philanthropic giving.

Listening, really listening, demands putting aside our egos and our objectives and really concentrating on the prospect. Listening, not to find a window to "pounce" but to find a connection between what our organization does and how that aligns with the donor's aspirations. Listening. So important, and seemingly so hard to do. Which reminds me of a fantastic TED talk by deaf Scottish percussionist Evelyn Glennie titled "How To Truly Listen". But that is for another post.

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