Identify Interest: The 2nd Relationship Step to Get Meetings

What are you interested in?

“So, what are you interested in?”

It’s a common question in sales.

Just last week I was looking at some shirts in a local department store and the sales person came up to me and said: “So, which one of those shirts catches your attention?”

Pretty simple question – yet critical in the decision and commitment-making process.

commitmentcurvesteps-gray2vertIt is obvious that I am interested in shirts, because I am looking at them. But one shirt might certainly be more interesting than another. Or if I am wandering around the men’s clothing area the salesperson may say: “Is there anything in particular you are looking for,” which is a way of asking me what I am interested in.

In my last post, I suggested that one of the first things you need to do with your qualified donor is to make him or her aware of what you do within the context of that donor’s passions and interests. So that first step was broad. You have identified the passions and interests of the donor – now you are trying to see what sub-category, type or area the donor is interested in.

If the donor is interested in education, is it education of adults, younger adults, teens or kids? Is it higher ed, a community college, technical college or something else? Is it a certain course: engineering, social services, law, etc.? The list goes on. You must figure out what the specific interest is.

Jeff and I see so many situations where a major gift officer has not drilled down to the specific interest, and then he wonders why he received a “no” to his ask. The answer is that there simply was not a match of the donor’s interests and passions to the donor offer the MGO presented. This happens more often than you think, which is why it is so critical to get this right.

Donors have specific interests – that is a fact. And you must find out what they are. This point has EVERYTHING to do with your ability to secure a meeting with the donor.

So after you have identified the donor’s passions and interests and have made her aware of what you do in her area of interest, then ask these two questions:

  1. What interests you in [general mission area]?” You may get a general response – this often happens. So you need to keep carefully securing more details. For instance, if the donor is interested in the children your organization serves, you will need to be aware of the categories of programs that serve children, then attempt to get the donor to identify which of those programs is of greater interest than others. There will be a hierarchy of interest; you need to uncover it. So keep working on drilling down until you land on the specific information you are seeking.
  2. Why?” This is important. Because once you have landed on the donor’s specific interest, it is helpful to know the motivation of the interest. “So why does that area interest you?” is the question you will ask. And if you do this right, you will find out the core motivation of the donor.

Now you have acquired the specific interest and the motivation. This is good. And you are ready now to “create desire,” the subject of my next post. See you soon.


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