Referring back to my initial blog, I am completing a series that outlines the various levels of prospect management we encounter with our clients. In Part I, I covered rating choice “Level 1,” and how it means that the organization does not have a formalized prospect management system in place. Today, we’ll dive into Level 2.
Let’s say your organization rates itself the following: “Level 2: Informal system with some contact sheets completed, some assignments, minimal actions tracked with less than 50% adoption.”
I first recommend setting regularly scheduled prospect review meetings with the appropriate development staff. FYI – Clients who have a well oiled prospect management system typically meet weekly or bi-weekly. I suggest finding a time that works for your organization (i.e. monthly is an improvement if this type of meeting is new to your organization).
Keep in mind the following:
- Size of staff and dollar goals for your major gift program will determine the best schedule for meeting.
- Be sure to invite anyone who is responsible for the both the mechanics and background work in helping your organization raise major and/or planned gifts.
- Have your prospect list in hand. These spreadsheets or reports should have the prospect name, stage you are at with the prospect, gift purpose, important notes from last contact (date of call, letters or notes sent, meeting highlights, objections, obstacles, etc.), next step/action, expected ask amount, if formulated, and expected gift date.
- Keep these meetings on target with both timing and content so that you don’t get derailed talking through issues that have nothing to do with simply discussing the status you are at with your prospects, as well as establishing plans for each prospect on your list. That is not to say other issues may arise as a result of these meetings, but I suggest tabling those issues for another meeting so that they can be specifically addressed at another time.
- Discuss if there are executive staff members, board members, or major donors who could help with introductions, cultivation, and solicitation activities, and note this within the prospect’s record or your spreadsheet.
- Update your spreadsheets or software based on any recommended next steps, setting up electronically triggered actions to keep on track with your cultivation efforts.
NOTE: If you are utilizing spreadsheets at this time, you should investigate adding the correct prospect management module to your CRM software or have someone customize your software to accommodate this type of system.
The next recommendation is to start entering data into your prospect management software program. Having standard fields and drop-down menus within those fields for various stages, action types, priority levels, etc. can be helpful in keeping your prospect management process consistent for measuring, reporting, and planning purposes. You may not be at the stage to develop reports and metrics around the process, but if you start getting consistent fields and data entry standards in place, your organization will be on track for prospect management success when the time comes for full adoption.
If you implement these suggestions, you will be moving towards the 3rd level of prospect management efficiency and adoption, “Mechanics of program in place with assignments, actions with 50-75% adoption of the program.” Stay tuned for my next blog, which will address the importance getting top-down buy-in and training in place for all development staff to utilize the system.
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