I have a lot of respect for those who professionally sell and for leaders who can design effective marketing and business development processes that demonstrate a reliable return on investment for such activities. This is important to the success of most modern enterprises – even mission driven not-for-profits.
But it all starts and ends with trust. If you violate or diminish trust, then there’s the door, thank you very much.
I’m always amused by all the junk mail during tax season that is designed to trick the recipient into thinking that it’s an important document. This trickery, assumes the sender, will increase the chances that the mail will be opened and ultimately considered. But, it’s all just a fundamental lie. The person who opens it to peruse the contents does so only because it seems important. If I get something that looks like an official tax document and find out it’s a laughably veiled attempt to get me to buy an extended warranty on my car or to attend a dinner at a local restaurant to hear from a financial advisor, then I’m out. If you open with a lie… then see ya.
So, what does this have to do leading not-for-profits? I mention it here for two reasons:
First, because we are subjected to sales pitches all the time. I have received countless inquires through LinkedIn and sadly, many often are similar approaches to the tax season ruse, only they are more subtle and more sophisticated. For example, I have received inquiries asking if I would be available to bid on a consulting project only to find out downstream that they are actually looking to sell me services. This is fundamentally dishonest. Another example is the vendor that describes a service as included and part of an existing service contract only to be upsold to death during the actual sales conversation. Again, fundamentally dishonest.
Second, because many of our mission driven organizations need to develop business development, sales, marketing, and growth strategies… and these include reaching out to potential partners, donors, and customers. Lead with trust. Start there. Showcase your mission and your values by the very way you begin a conversation. That will say something about your organization and about you.
I’m sure many of you are rolling your eyes right now and thinking: “uhm, statement of the obvious much?”… but take some time to look around. Particularly on certain social media platforms. There are so, so many pitches aimed at sparking our interest, capturing our intrigue, but fundamentally, which are not truthful. That’s a real bummer. And it’s not much to build off of going forward.
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