Learning from and building confidence in overcoming objections. These scenarios were recently presented at a seminar of San Jose nonprofits and were positively received. KEY POINT: It is all about the donor and not your organization!
OBJECTION: “That’s a lot of money you’re asking for…”
Generally not a serious objection – yet do not belittle it (Concept # 4 from the last post)
- Consider: We know it is and we don’t take it lightly. But you are one of the few in our community we can turn to for the needed leadership to make this shared vision a reality.
- Consider: Probing to see if the giving level is the real factor. Is it the amount or timing that concerns you most?
OBJECTION: “I’m not as wealthy as those folks who make those giant gifts you read about.”
You might be dealing with a small fish in a big pond mentality. The prospect may have an issue with recognition or having a real impact with his/her gift.
- Consider: “Every gift is important to our organization, regardless of size. Only with the help and generosity of many caring friends can we achieve our vital goal.”
- Consider: “Make no mistake – you are being asked for a most generous gift. While it is significant, the benefit to our community is what counts. In this regard, your gift is quite remarkable.”
OBJECTION: “It’s a great cause, but the timing is lousy. My business is down sharply…I may even need to restructure some of my debt.”
This is a very serious objection as the source of many major gifts is business income. The prospect may not even be in a position to consider a major gift.
- Consider: “We are sorry to learn of your difficulties (hopefully, your research & work behind the scenes gave some indication), but you are a proven business and community leader. We are certain things will turn around for you. This is not a good time to discuss specifics about your gift opportunity. Please know how grateful we are for the opportunity to share our plans with you. Let’s plan to reconvene at a better time. You are a special friend of our organization and we are thankful for all you have done.”
- Consider: “We completelyempathize and understand your situation. Perhaps we can agree on this opportunity and what you would hope to do once your business situation turns around. What are your thoughts and feelings about the overall concept of this project?”
OBJECTION: “It’s a great cause, but the timing is lousy. My daughter was admitted to an expensive private college and my other daughter is getting married in the spring.”
Recognize these events happen to all of us and yes, they may affect the timing, but not stand in the way of a gift decision. This may be a smoke screen for a lack of passion about the project.
- Probe the prospect’s feelings about the proposed project.
- Consider: “Congratulations! You and ____ must be very proud of your daughter, ___ for getting accepted at such a prestigious school. Has ___ set a date for the wedding? Let’s put aside the gift opportunity for a moment. We would like to understand your feelings about the project.”
OBJECTION: “I need to discuss this with my spouse.”
Think about how your response might differ, assuming (1) you know the spouse IS important to the decision; (2) you are not sure if the spouse is important to the decision; (3) you do not know much about the spouse; and (4) you know the spouse IS NOT important to the decision (HIGHLY unlikely).
Generally, spouses discuss their philanthropic giving, so this should never be a surprise. One should assume the spouse needs to be included in the proposal unless the primary natural partner has definitively informed you otherwise. It benefits the decision to factor in the request to discuss the project with both spouses present.
- Consider: “We are eager for you to discuss this with ____. Perhaps it would make sense for all of us to get together Wednesday or Thursday of next week.”
- Consider: “Of course we expected you would want to talk this over with ____. We would appreciate the opportunity to sit down with both of you next week. Right now, we merely wanted to discuss the concept and determine if you share our enthusiasm for the enormous benefits this would bring to our community. How do you feel about this concept and it potential impact?”
Hopefully, these actual objections and possible responses generate conversations and planning with members of the solicitation team. Your job is to probe beyond the words to discover the reasons behind the objection and to use that knowledge to reframe the ask. You know the prospect has some level of agreement on the project, otherwise, no meeting would have occurred.
Your comments and feedback are welcome as always.