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Sales for NPOs and Advocacy Groups

Sales for NPOs

Sales for NPOs and advocacy groups works the same way as in business. Many non-profit executives want to shrug this truth off; however, I will demonstrate selling is human interaction, and whether it's in a business or non-profit environment the principles are necessary and effective.

I have many years of high level experience with municipal committees of council. For six years I was appointed to the committee that handled all the grant money reviews and disbursement recommendations for my home town. And in that time I created more interaction, more bonding and more results from those NPOs. I was doing things at 30 people in their 50s are just starting to consider.

A Key Takeaway About Sales for NPOs

A major takeaway I have from that time is the NPOs were all fighting each other over what they thought was slices of the one pie. This was a mistake. In college we were given an assignment where the class was split up into two groups. Both groups were told they needed a limited supply of oranges. You may have experienced a similar exercise, or perhaps this will be a big eye-opener for you. At first the two groups debated on why their "organization" should get the oranges and the other group should not. But after DISCUSSION, a key but hitherto hidden pair of facts became visible:

Group One needed the MEAT of the oranges

Group Two needed the PEEL of the oranges.

Both sides could effectively take 100% of the pie.

But they had to *talk* to one another to figure this out. Now in my experience, and note how this is true even in supposedly cooperative mindset organizations like NPOs, the leaders simply do not communicate with each other effectively enough to learn that one NPO needs the meat and the other needs the peel--and that both can share the resources.

I am about to share an example from my history in 2004-5. At that time I had been appointed to the city's nine-member grant review committee and they made me vice-chair the moment I walked in the room. The following year, the current chair was retiring and plans were made for me to be his successor. Note this was not about some knowledge about parliamentary procedure; it was about demonstrating *leadership* and I was ready to lead. Even though I was the youngest member of the committee other than the short-lived youth rep who moved out of the city after a couple months, these 50, 60, and 70-year old, highly experienced executives--some of whom ran their own organizations--were happy to have me lead them. The first thing I did was meet with city social planning/community development staff to hear their ideas on what a good direction would be.

Two Principles of Sales for NPOs and Advocacy Groups

Note this. Having administrative staff on your side is important. Do you think it is easier to have them promote your program when they have a hand in it?

The second thing I did was forward a motion to council to approve a change in the committee's terms of reference. Until then, the committee had been a passive body: council would refer business items to it for opinion and we would answer. I had it changed so we could "wag the dog" and send items for consideration UP the chain to them.

The staff recommended something called a Social Development Strategy, which came out of Australia. The idea was to involve all the local organizations and stakeholders, and get a program of how municipal spending would be allocated on community development going forward. The City was going through huge changes in population, distribution and gateway areas.

Over the next year, starting from just two stakeholders, I and my committee, lead by a former Chamber of Commerce chair I appointed to lead the subcommittee because I didn't want a conflict of interest as I was running in the next election, created this spending plan and an enormous level of involvement. You can see the results in this document:

CNV Social Development Strategy

Sales for NPOs: Another Example

An organization (the Lower Lonsdale Network) was created for ongoing discussion between all those stakeholders and outlasted my term, which I think is pretty awesome. And during those discussions, we found opportunities for NPOs to share 100% of the pie like this:

The Salvation Army was training homeless people to become cooks, so they could have basic skills to get a job. The local college had their chef volunteer to lead the training. But they topped out on capacity as they only had the one kitchen. Well guess what: from the discussions THEY HAD NEVER HAD BEFORE, resulting from the Social Development Strategy meetings, the Kiwanis retirement tower revealed they had a spare kitchen! The Salvation Army and the chef could use the Kiwanis kitchen to double their flow-through of trainees, and it didn't cost anyone a dime!

Affordable Food News Article 2004

[click to enlarge]

This is an example of the orange being divided into meat and peel, and serving two different groups well.

So if you're a non-profit executive, understand that sales for NPOs and advocacy groups works just like it does in B2B and B2C settings...and will get you results like this. Human interaction is How You Get Things Done. Whether it's in a business or non-profit environment, the same principles are at work.

>> If you want to discuss how your NPO can get broader and more effective results through ethical selling principles, book a session with Jason. <<

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Why Reinforcement Is Necessary for Sales Success

Why Reinforcement Is NecessaryWhy Reinforcement Is Necessary for Sales Success is a subject discussed by other serious sales trainers as well. It's not just me. You hear me say, "Ongoing reinforcement is needed for getting results in selling." That a one-time seminar or lecture won't get you results.

Why is that?

Let's deal first with the lecturing. Why doesn't hearing a sales technique once at a seminar work? The answer is because actual learning did not occur. The salesperson goes into congnitive overload. They become defensive. The message is tuned out.

"I already do that."

"This guy isn't telling me anything new."

"I'm already a great salesperson."

Even if the salesperson does accept the new idea, after a couple of weeks they'll forget it. Back to their old comfort zone. Back to their old techniques.

Why Reinforcement Is Necessary: How It Overcomes Inertia

But the sales manager/trainer/leader has to have a playbook. The playbook can be a consistent sales process. It can be objections and rebuttals. It can be an equation to be applied to the customer's business--can we reduce their costs or increase their revenues? What is inside the playbook doesn't matter as much as having one.

Without the playbook, you don't have a target to aim at. If you don't have a target, will you have consistency? If you don't have consistency, can you manage your results?

The Three Learning Phases Showing Why Reinforcement Is Necessary

The plain truth is the way we learn is why reinforcement is necessary for sales success. Some approaches are based on studies of adult learning. Effective coaching simply bolsters that adult learning process. So how do we do it?

First, we perceive. We assess a situation and perceive which variables are critical to our success.

Second, we decide. Which course of action should we take? Thank goodness we have that playbook handy!

Third, we act. We practice, we roleplay, we rehearse--but most of all we use the new technique in real life.

The salesperson can practice. The coach gives ongoing feedback. That feedback can come in the form of ridealongs and a debriefing chat right after the prospect visit. It can come in the form of simulations. And it can be in the form of team coaching, where peers work with one another.

But the common key is that you need to see the new technique over and over again...interacting with real life. That's how it will stick. You must first perceive the need for it. Then decide to use the techique. And then really use it, taking action with the new technique in live selling situations.

Sounds simple? Doing this consciously is not nearly as easy as talking about it. That's why having a coach who will keep showing you why reinforcement is necessary helps so much.

Update: Is Ongoing Re-Learning of Sales Technique Still Needed In 2022?

Many years have passed since the first version of this post was written in 2014. Have people gotten any smarter? Are they more effective at learning and retaining information?

Of course not!

The belief that "I looked the course over one time, and now I know everything forever" remains an extremely common one. But let me remind you that * I * have to go over my own material several times a year—or else I'll forget the techniques just as easily as anyone else. And I'm more familiar with these concepts than anybody!

Humanity has a belief that just because we read or heard something and it seemed good, we must now know that thing and retain it for all time. You know just by reading the previous sentence that the idea is ridiculous; however, you go on acting as if it is true.

Don't fall for this unthinking belief. It's not just silly: it's harmful to you. Get a coach and a continuous sales training program in place to support your success.

>> If you're ready to become supported by the greatest sales and business owner training on the planet, SALES ON FIRE, go here <<

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Feedback Loops: The Bane of the Experienced

emotional roller coaster broken feedback loop

Feedback Loops are the #1 challenge killing businesses I've seen in over 25+ years professionally. From startups through $100MM multinationals, feedback loops are the Achilles Heel of every organization.

I have also noticed that the awareness of this issue is a clear indicator dividing newbies from experienced executives. If you want to progress, you'd best start looking for broken or missing feedback loops...and fixing them.

You’re going to encounter this problem at every stage as you grow. It is not going to go away. You are not going to magically resolve it.

emotional roller coaster broken feedback loop

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Discovering and Resolving Broken Feedback Loops Is A Never-Ending Challenge

As your organization grows to each different size and shape, the feedback loop issue will rear its ugly head again and again. What worked before will break and things will start falling through the cracks again. You'll feel like you're on an emotional roller coaster when a feedback loop issue is near.

Here are a few areas where broken feedback loops impact your business:

> Accurate data needed to make decisions based upon

> Client updates and communication

> Information exchange ** between departments of your own business **

> Communication lines breaking

> Spreadsheets not getting updated in a timely manner

> Projects not updated or followed up on⏤the ball will NOT be moved down the field

> Individuals becoming sulky or afraid or overprotective of their interests or silo-izing and withholding information from other people inside and outside of your organization (it happened between the CIA and FBI pre-9-11 and they’re supposedly on the same darn side…think you’re immune?).

All this and worse will happen as you strain to grow. Do you recognize any of these symptoms?

This Is A People Problem, Not A Technical Problem

And I caution you now: what you think is a Technical problem is actually a People problem. It’s no accident the very first episode of my show is about this issue: You have a People problem, not a Technical problem.

Be ever watchful for the feedback loop problem.

When information is not accurate or available when you need it⏤you have a broken feedback loop.

When people are withdrawing from conversation and not sharing the truth with you⏤you have a feedback loop problem.

When the processes and systems you put in place are demonstrably not being followed⏤you have feedback loop issues.

Again, these are the bane of organizations tiny and massive, from little startups through large multinationals. I’ve seen and operated inside of all kinds, and there they are: the broken feedback loops again.

These issues will not fix themselves.

You must resolve them. They are the #1 problem you can solve in your business, because they lead to swift, accurate communication; fast decisions; good client relations; happy interpersonal culture in your business; and more multiplicative results. There is nothing more important once you are driving revenue that you could be working on than fixing broken feedback loops.

This is an epidemic to be identified and stamped out.

And you must take personal responsibility. Your COO, when you have one, should also be taking personal responsibility in doing so. And so on, embedded into your culture. If people are afraid to speak up, you’ve created that broken feedback loop and I implore you handle that killer problem right now.

What evidence have you seen of missing or broken feedback loops in your organization?

>> Want to explore where and how broken feedback loops are damaging your organization, its performance, and your client and partner relationships? Book a call with Jason to discuss. <<