Open the Door and Close the Deal on Higher Ed Fundraising Solution

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by Greg Cholmondeley, Workflow Practice Director, PODi and Caslon & Company


Kim GrossSo you want to sell personalized direct marketing services to the higher education market. Good thinking – it’s a great target market. Fundraising is a huge focus, schools have good, deep data about their alumni audience, and they’ve been running traditional campaigns for years. How’s it going for you trying to get them to migrate to an integrated, personalized marketing campaign approach?

I was chatting with Kim Gross, Director of Sales & Marketing for Pacesetter Enterprises, the other day and she confirmed that a lot of sales reps are banging their heads trying to get in or trying to get University marketing departments to change with limited success. She knows because she’s been successfully selling fundraising solutions to higher education for eight years now – even to schools which have turned away others.

I asked her how she wins and she politely suggested that I sign up for her upcoming Selling Fundraising Solutions to the Higher Education Market PODi Institute course – but she did offer up some pointers.

  • Be prepared to smoothly handle the most common objections you’ll get when you walk in the door.
  • Know their industry, business processes, and terminology
  • Have a template to use as a model for building a unique and successful campaign
  • Be able to justify your claims

So, say you walk in the door and are greeted by “Sorry, we don’t have the budget for something like that.” Kim suggests finding out how much they are spending on programs like generic direct mail, inefficient phone-a-thons, and inefficient web campaign integration along with what their returns are. She then remarks that she might have a way to spend the same dollars to achieve better results.

She might start by discussing how to reduce their SYBUNT population. Wait, do you know what SYBUNT means? Speaking their lingo is essential for success. You need to be fluent when talking about donor attrition rates, SYBUNT versus LYBUNT populations, donor conversion rates, donor segmentation, and giving rates by channel and donor segment. You need to understand how their fiscal, academic and calendar years impact campaign timings. If you can manage this you’ll have the beginnings of their respect and they’ll listen to you. If you don’t then you’ll probably be out the door no matter how expert you are in delivering marketing services.

Now that you have their attention, what do you say? Every campaign needs to be highly tailored to the unique needs of a specific institution, but sitting down asking questions to design one from scratch is a sure fire way to not get a second meeting. Instead, you should have a blueprint of a tried and proven higher education fundraising campaign which can be discussed and adapted to meet their needs. Kim has one that she’s developed from common successes, and a few failures, she’s experienced while building them over the past 8 years. Again, I’d tell you more, but she’s making me wait for her class.

It’s going to be a great course. She’s running 4 classes twice a week over the first 2 weeks in December. It’s online but interactive with assignments which will be reviewed. She’s going to go through the whole process from positioning your company, to getting appointments, to handling objections, to analyzing needs and presenting a winning solution. And she’s a fabulous lecturer and coach.

You can learn more about her course and register at the PODi Institute. Classes will be held December 1, 3, 8 & 10 at 1:00pm U.S. Eastern Time.

By the way, anyone who has participated in fundraising phone-a-thons has heard the phrase which spawned the term LYBUNT: “I know I gave Last Year But Unfortunately Not this year.”

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