Why is it so hard to set up a time for a visit with a prospect?
It just is. People screen their phone calls. They don’t answer your emails. They’re busy. And, let’s face it, they know what this is about. Some folks will avoid the ask because they’re thinking about it in terms of ‘money’ rather than ‘impact.’ Once you get in the room with them, you’ll be able to change this perspective. But… how to get there?
Acknowledge to yourself that the hardest part of fundraising is getting the visit. Once you know this you’ll be less frustrated. There’s nothing wrong with you if you’re having a hard time getting through to someone. Everyone does. Persevere. Try different channels until you find one that works (phone, email, text, snail mail, Facebook, etc.). We all have communication preferences.
1. Remember you’re not setting an appointment – you’re arranging a visit.
“Appointments” are no fun. Doctors, mechanics and dentists require appointments. “Visits” are fun. You’ll chat, nosh and have a lovely conversation. Yay!.
2. Start the conversation by asking the person whether they have time for your call.
If you launch into trying to schedule a visit while your prospect has their attention on anything else, you risk failure. If the prospect says they only have 5 minutes, tell them you’ll take 4 and stick to it.
3. Tell the prospect why they’re being called (as an important supporter; community leader).
Acknowledge what they’ve done right (volunteering, giving). Show them how much they’re valued. People will do what they’ve done before (they already went through the decision process); you’re simply encouraging them to continue… and perhaps to do so even more passionately.
4. Be clear about your intention to talk about philanthropy.
No one likes to be tricked. Explain why you want to see them — to get their feedback/advice about [your work; the campaign, etc.] and explore their giving interests and talk about existing and new opportunities. Ask when they can see you for 20 minutes, at their convenience.
5. Don’t talk about money… yet.
The most common objection to a visit is “I don’t want to talk about/don’t have any money to give.” If this happens, promise the prospect you will not ask for money on this visit. Tell them you’d still appreciate their feedback on the vision/mission/campaign. Maybe they know someone else who can help. Often folks will become so interested in the project or campaign that they’ll bring up money before you do.
6. Offer a couple of choices for the timing of the visit.
When a solicitor asks me when I can meet with them (especially if I’m doing them a favor) I’ll tell them I’ll think about it and get back to them. If I’m offered two or three choices, I’ll generally pick one. Keep the ball in your court.
7. Smile, stand up and walk around.
How you say something can be more important than what you say. Smiling, standing and moving helps to convey enthusiasm in your speech. This really works. People like to talk to people who sound happy. When someone answers the phone, leap up and grin!
Get the visit and you’ll likely get the gift. Studies show you’re 85% on your way to getting the gift if you can get the prospect to agree to a personal visit. Jerold Panas, in his iconic book, Asking, wrote that if you want to milk a cow, you shouldn’t send it mail. Sitting by someone’s side is the best way to get a gift of the size you want; not sending a letter or calling on the phone.
Do you have tips for getting the visit? Please share!