True confession time: I used to be a Professional Visitor. Or at least I felt like one.
Oh, I thought I was an account executive for a major metropolitan radio station, but more times than not it was as if I was really getting paid just to visit. I recall too many episodes spending time with certain prospective accounts, sitting in their offices exchanging pleasantries over coffee for an hour or so, only to walk away with absolutely no clue what was supposed to happen next. My Sales Manager, Mac, would ask me how the meeting went. “Great,” I would say, “I was with him for an hour!” “So,” Mac would ask, “what’s your follow-up strategy? When is the next buy up? What’s the next step with this guy?”
“Um…” I would answer, staring at my shoes. I had no clue. The client and I had talked about everything except the real reason I was there! Finally after one too many of these frustrating conversations, Mac blew a cloud of cigarette smoke my way and said to me in exasperation, “Remember — always close for something!”
Now I’m a fundraiser, but Mac’s advice still resonates. Always close for something. What could that something be? Well, a gift, obviously — but if it’s not time for that, how about closing for the next appointment? Closing for a follow-up call? Closing for a site visit? Closing for a written proposal? Closing for some information? Even closing for the next time you plan to call and say hello? Clearly we fundraisers value our relationships with our donors, but it seems to me we should always be moving those relationship gently and appropriately toward that next gift, that larger commitment, that new initiative. It’s why we’re here. I shouldn’t have that deer-in-the-headlights stare when my boss asks me what’s my next step with a significant donor.
Mac said it more than 30 years ago: “Always close for something.” Thanks, Mac — good advice that still applies!