How to handle unexpected responses

November 17, 2015       The NonProfit Times      

There is nothing quite like a face-to-face meeting with a prospect, especially if that prospect could become a major or sustaining donor.

Preparation is vital, of course, but the most seasoned prospectors know that potential donors can upset the interview apple cart by offering an unexpected response.

Speaking during the 2015 Bridge to Integrated Marketing and Fundraising Conference, Marshall H. Ginn of Capital Development Strategies and Joy Myers of the Arlington food Assistance Center offered several scenarios of unplanned-for situations and possible ways of handling them.

Before the interviewer gets too far, the prospect says “Just tell me what you want.” What to do? Keep them talking, ask them the same question or tell them what you need is their reaction, advice, guidance, willingness to talk again.

The interviewer realizes that the prospect will not be available for a follow-up interview for a very long time. Oops. Be prepared with an “emergency ask” and don’t be afraid to toss the script.

The interviewer senses “the ask” was way too low. Lay the groundwork for future gifts, such as annual giving, and keep the prospect informed.

The prospect has not read the materials sent in advance or perceives a key point that is exactly opposite the facts. Regroup and refocus the conversation back on the basic information.