It started at the buffet table of a bris.
Standing next to the bagels (or maybe it was the dessert platters), a coachee of mine watched another man struggle to pick up several full plates and a cup of coffee.
“Need help?” my coachee asked, picking up one of the plates.
“Thanks,” the fellow said. “I wasn’t sure how I’d get all this to the table.”
As he followed the other guy to the seating area, my friend smiled to himself. The man he was helping was none other than a huge gvir he’d always wanted to speak to about his organization.
The two set the food down in front of the gvir’s place and sat down. After schmoozing a little, our guy tactfully brought up his organization.
“How would you feel about making another time to talk more about this?” he asked.
The gvir stayed friendly, but noncommittal. “Email me.”
So, later, our guy wrote this email:
“Hi ____, How are you? It was a pleasure to meet you at ____’s bris.
Can we have a short meeting (even on the phone) to talk about my project?
(Specifics about the project)
Who should I get in touch with to arrange this?
Thank you, _____.”
Here’s what the gvir responded:
“Likewise. I’m just not starting with anything new now. I hope you understand. Hatzlocha.”
Hmmmm. What to do next?
Our persistent friend responded like this:
“Thank you! When can I reach out again?”
And was told…
“I can’t commit to a time.”
So our guy typed back,
“Ok, thank you. All the best.”
The prospect clearly wasn’t interested, at least not at the moment. So if you were our guy, how would you move forward? Would you drop it? Or would you keep being persistent?
And if persistence is the answer, what does that need to look like?
Step 1: Gauge his level.
Have a look at this past blog post to learn how to categorize your donors as Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3 prospects.
If this gvir measures up to Level 1, don’t drop him. He’s a valuable prospect, and he didn’t give you an outright no. All he said was, “Not now.”
So what should you do next?
Step 2: Operate smart
Turning this guy into a donor is going to be a long game. If he’s the only prospect you’re focusing on, you’re going to get discouraged - and lose momentum - pretty fast.
How to remedy that? Don’t just work on one prospect at once. Set your sites on around ten big prospects at a time. Give each one just enough attention to keep the ball rolling until the right time to act comes around again - around an hour a week in total.
That way, you won’t feel like you’re working for nothing. You’ll feel like you’re slowly moving a productive enterprise forward.
But what needs to happen in those 60 minutes a week?
Step 3: Keep interacting
How do you nurture a relationship? By interacting.
If you want to build more trust and connection with this gvir, so he’ll eventually be happy to give you a meeting, you need to make sure you’re interacting with him.
Now, some interaction opportunities come up by themselves.
His nephew ends up in your yeshiva. A kiruv student of yours starts interning in his company. A close friend of yours marries a daughter to the gvir’s grandson.
When these things happen - great! You’ve been blessed with wonderful opportunities to warm up your connection.
But what if they don’t happen? Or if they’re not enough?
How can you be proactive?
Step 4: Create Opportunities
Well, you can create your own prompts for interaction. Here’s how:
You have his email. Send him things every month or so. He might not respond. He might not even open them. But he’ll see you there. He’ll see your persistence.
What to send him? Here are some options to start with:
- Those updates or newsletters you share with your donors highlighting the good your organization does? Tweak them a bit and send them off to him as well.
- Do you share content as part of your work? Divrei Torah? Podcasts? Shiurim? Sift through your content for items that might resonate with your gvir and send them to him monthly.
- Keep an eye on his milestones and celebrate with him. Was he honored at a dinner? Send him good wishes. Did he make a family simcha? Shoot him a mazel tov.
Whatever types of content you choose, just keep at it unless he actively tells you to stop.
You might not get any response, any indication that your relationship is changing. But you’ve got to play the game. Because, with some of these prospects, you’ll win. You will build trust. You will nurture enough of a relationship to get your prospect truly interested.
How to gauge where you’re standing? Every five to six interactions - or every six to nine months - request another meeting.
If you do it right, and you wait patiently enough, chances are big that you’ll see tremendous fruit from your efforts.