One of the biggest challenges nonprofit cause marketing professionals face is new partner acquisition. In this series of blog posts, I am sharing a few tricks of the trade I’ve learned in my 20+ years selling partnerships in the cause arena. In this installment, I will provide my 3 step method with sales tips and tools for closing the deal.
In the first installment of this series, I shared tips for effective prospecting. It’s not just about WHAT you’re selling. It’s about WHOM you’re selling. I also shared 5 great open-ended questions that will help jump start your discussions toward possible partnership. In the second installment, I shared insights about tenacity – a key ingredient in sales success! Did you know that fear of rejection consistently ranks in top 10 lists of human fears? I suspect this fear is a major culprit in blocking cause sales success.
So, now we move onward to the next crucial step – closing the sale. The number one reason a sales person fails is that they don’t ask for the business. I know it takes courage, but as my Dad taught me as a little girl “if you don’t ask the question, the answer will always be no.”
Here are 3 easy steps to a successful close.
STEP ONE: THE SET UP
By this point in the sales process, you should have held several discussions with your prospect. You have learned about his/her business goals and discussed what aspects of a cause marketing partnership are most important. You understand what his/her timing and budgetary needs are. You know about his/her target audience, etc. You will have shared information about your organization and your partnership opportunities and benefits. In short, you should not be trying to close the deal if you have not covered this vital information.
So, assuming you have completed the discussions above, you have now arrived at the crucial first step in the closing process – the set up. Take a deep breath, you can do it!
Begin by summarizing what you’ve learned to date. Something like this. “So, Joe/Jane, I understand that your biggest goal this year is xxxxxxx. I understand you are seeking a partner who can help you aaaaa, bbbbb and cccccc. You have shared that you are looking at the xyz timeframe, and that you have a limited budget. (They always say they have a limited budget, so I went ahead and filled that one in J).”
Next, show how your organization/partnership plan can address his/her needs. “As we have discussed, my organization reaches your target audience well through our aaaa, bbbb, and cccc initiatives. We can offer the following partnership benefits: xxxx, yyyy, zzzz. We can customize your partnership to deliver your goal of xxx. Our such-and-so activity will take place during your desired xyz timeframe and we can work together on a consumer fundraising activity to help your budget work harder for you.”
Now you are ready to move on to Step 2
STEP TWO: ASK FOR THE BUSINESS
Don’t be shy. It will be okay. Go ahead, pop the question. “So, based on what we’ve learned you need and the programs we have to offer……can we work on a plan to involve you as a sponsor of our such and so activity?”
And, now, the hardest part of all…..
STEP THREE: SILENCE IS GOLDEN
You’ve asked the question. Now you have to give Joe/Jane time to think about what you’ve asked. There will be silence. Count on it. Don’t assume silence means they are going to say no or they have a problem with it. They are T-H-I-N-K-I-N-G.
Chances are they will not be ready to say yes or no on this phone call or at this meeting. This is a good time to end the discussion for now with this closing statement. “Obviously, I don’t expect an answer today. I’d appreciate it if you would give this some thought. Send me any questions you have once you’ve thought it through. And, let’s set a call for day/date to discuss your ideas and questions.”
It is also highly likely that they will have questions or possibly even the dreaded “objections.” Getting a yes on the first ask is extremely rare, so don’t be disappointed. Instead be prepared to keep moving the conversation along the moves management continuum.
I hope my “3 Step Close” tips are a helpful tool. In my next series post in this series, I will cover ideas for how to knock down objections and then attempt the close again. If you need more direct assistance, For Momentum offers a variety of sales support services from Sales Readiness to Pipeline Development and Outreach support. We’d love to help you solve your sales challenges! You can email me at email@example.com.