Birth of a Salesman

Party20marty20close20up_6 After reading a review of The Little Red Book of Selling and its new companion book, I had an epiphany of sorts that I was gypping budding cause marketers by not talking specifically about the art of selling.  So beginning today I've started a new category called "Cause Sales" to cover the subject.

First, a definition.  If nonprofit marketing is the things we do to get and keep donors, "Cause Sales" must be the things we say to get and keep them.  If  "Cause Sales" sounds like any other type of "sales", that's because it is.  Sales is the same whether you're pitching a cause or a Cadillac because people are swayed by:

  • Appeals that build trust.  The power of credibility is so strong that people will sometimes forgo other appeals because of your trustworthiness.  They defer to you and respect your judgment.  Consider people who do things just because the President or the Pope (or the Selfish Giver) tells them to.  Not the President or the Pope (or me), but want to be trusted?  Try being trustworthy.  If you're confused by what this means you should pursue a career in white-collar crime.
  • Appeals that makes sense.  You appeal to your listener's sense of reasonableness.  If I tell a prospective donor that 90 cents of every dollar BMC raises goes back to help the people we serve, I'm appealing to her head, not to her heart.  It makes sense for her to donate because she knows the money will go to those in need.  That's a logical argument. 
  • Appeals that touch them.  Yeah, you pull at their heart strings.  Fundraisers are usually pretty good at this so I won't explain.  But you should balance emotion with appeals that build trust and make sense.  If you don't , you run the risk of desensitizing your audience to your pitch.  Everything in moderation.

A piece of advice I liked from the review was how good sales people create value for their clients. 

Top sales reps don't peddle; they solve problems and make customers laugh while offering them something they genuinely need. 

Unfortunately, this isn't what most business people think when they first meet with me.  They think cause marketing must be a fancy term for "beggar".  I deal with this by not playing the charity card.  Why talk about something they already know and may even turn them off?  Instead, I focus on how my programs can deliver a powerful competitive edge by giving customers a better reason to buy from them than just product or price.  I finish by saying that helping themselves will ultimately be good for BMC and the community.  For many, this is the icing on the cake.  And it's hard to walk away without taking a slice.

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