How Much More Money Does Your Nonprofit Need to Bring In? With Debbie MrazekThe Sales CompanyThe Sales Company Logo

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Debbie MrazekDebbie Mrazek coaches and consults with Fortune 500 companies, CEOs, entrepreneurs, non-profit organizations, business startups, and family businesses, helping her clients to identify their toughest business challenges and guiding them through the process of developing and devising a clear, concise plan; a road map to achieving their vision and exponentially growing by working “smarter not harder”. She is passionate about bringing the “fun” back to selling -raising money. Additionally, Debbie is the author of “The Field Guide to Sales” and is a prolific writer and speaker sharing her wealth of experiences and sales growth expertise to numerous organizations and publications. Also, recently recognized by DCEO Magazine as one of the 2021 Dallas 500 – the most powerful business leaders in Dallas-Fort Worth. Also, honored by Dallas Business Journal -Women In Business Award Winner and Tech Titan Community Hero. Currently, Debbie is serving as • Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Faculty – Sales/Marketing • TeXchange Board of Directors.

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Read the Interview Transcript

Hugh Ballou: Greetings, everyone. This is The Nonprofit Exchange, and I am Hugh Ballou, founder and president of SynerVision Leadership Foundation. We create synergy through being clear as leaders about our vision. We lead an initiative. It’s the vision that we lead. We empower people to follow that vision. Our guest today, and I’m going to let her talk about her topic, as it’s a fascinating topic. Debbie Mrazek is here from Dallas, Texas. Debbie, tell us about who you are and a little bit about your topic and why this is important to you.

Debbie Mrazek: You bet. Thank you, Hugh for having me. I am delighted to be here today. I was late to the nonprofit game because I was raised in the military. My dad worked in the church. Everybody had to do what everybody said. There was always money. It was completely different than how the real world works. It wasn’t until I was an adult and had a little boy and was like, this little guy, we need to be going to church every Sunday, not just Easter and Christmas, so we started going.

My minister, we had Reverend Donna Whitehead. She was renowned for this in our church: if you saw her coming toward you, you knew she was going to ask you something. The quicker you said yes, the sooner it was going to be over. I see her coming, and she’s like, “Oh my gosh, I just found out you were raised in the church, so you must understand the business of church.” I said, “I’m not sure that that correlates, but okay.” She said, “Great. You’re going to be on the finance committee and help us because you also have this sales company, so you know how to do sales. This is going to be perfect.” Well, there really was no excuse to argue with her. We did it.

From that day to this, I have served on many boards, done many things. The lessons that I learned there were priceless. One of the key ones I still use today is there are some people that simply want to donate money, and you’re smart enough, you have to figure out what to do with it. There are other people who will give you a big check for their name on a building that must live through eternity.

The third was, and this was very interesting to me, some people like to give things. My church didn’t have a sanctuary yet, so we were going to be building one. Our minister said, “We have,” and he knew who they were, “these 25 families that they’d like to give things. You all need to give me a list of what you need.” He was talking about things inside the church like pews, an altar, technology equipment. “I need a list of what you need.” That’s what he did. He would call these people up and go, “Listen, we need 104 pews. That will be $100,000. Are you interested?” They would go, “Yes, what else is on your list?” “I have baby beds, but that is only $20,000.” They go, “Oh, I can do that, too.” We ended up with this list that became like a checklist because we knew exactly what we needed.

Our minister was also great at breaking things down in that we needed $5 million to do this. We had 6,000 members, $5 million divided by 6,000. He would break it down and say, “If someone gave this much…” That lesson I learned has served me on every committee and everything I’ve done since then.

I have a real passion for women and children as many of you do. Also in my business community I have a real passion for those who are starting their business. They know what it is they do, but they have no idea how to do their business, how to do sales so they can keep their business going. My career started at Texas Instruments selling semiconductors in Levitt, Texas. I thought I would be doing that forever. I grew up in the technology world, went on and sold other things. 25 years ago, I started doing consulting to help all kinds of people with their sales and growth initiatives.

Hugh: Debbie has a company called The Sales Company. The #1 reason businesses fail is sales. That was a great story by the way. Thank you for pointing out that we are actually running a business entity. It’s a tax-exempt entity. For clergy to say, “The business of the church,” she is probably in the minority of clergy that actually understand that principle. Sales, I think that’s a misunderstood word. It’s really misunderstood—especially in the nonprofit world, more so in the church community—thinking that sales is a pushy, bad thing to do, whereas sales is really finding someone with a need and connecting them to a resource that fills that need. If you’re in the church, evangelism is nothing but sales. Connect the dots here. What’s so important about mastering sales for any kind of organization?

Debbie: There is a perception in our country about sales being pushy and awful and yucky. “I’m not a salesperson.” The truth of the matter is all of us have been doing sales since we were born. You started yelling when someone popped you on the butt and they did things to make you stop yelling. You have selling in different ways. You communicate much better than you want. Communication isn’t just your words; it’s how you listen, how you present yourself. There are many ways of communicating.

With sales, in the nonprofit world, I have worked with many. This is the thing. They think it’s such an ugly word. How passionate are you about what you’re doing? The really great salespeople do not do the “sell” like what you’re thinking. There is an old movie with Alec Baldwin called Glengarry Glen Ross, and he talks about the ABCs of selling as Always Be Closing. If anybody is ever selling to you that way, they are bullying you. They are not selling. The real ABCs of sales is to Always Be Caring. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. When you see people who are passionate about what they do, and they’re having great success at it, and you think, “They’re not even the best ones at this,” they might not be the best ones at this as far as their service or product, but they are the best ones at selling because their clientele know that they care and want to be a part of what they’re doing. That’s what we want for each of you, is to be able to engage your community, your audience, your people, your congregation with what you are doing. How can they participate in making that happen and be part of the success and the growth?

Hugh: Our listeners in the nonprofit community would also include other associations like chambers and educators. There is two dynamics here where we get stumped. I’m not going to say we fail, but they are hard for us. One is the discomfort in asking for money. The other one is the actual ask itself. We’re not very good at that.

I served the church for 40 years as a music director. In my 12,000-member church in Atlanta, the pastor was the best salesperson I ever saw. He would always meet people. “When are you going to join the church?” He had a very clear ask. He grew it from 2,000 to 12,000 by being very intentional about inviting people with a very specific reason. Why? Here are the benefits. When are you going to make a decision? Come in on either of these dynamics, our discomfort with asking for money and the lack of ability to be very clear with the request, the ask.

Debbie: The ask is on you in the first place. Do you have clarity about what you’re asking for? Do you really know what you want, what you need? Do you understand it clearly? There is no doubt in your mind. We need to do this by then. That is the biggest thing with an ask: to understand. Like our minister that I mentioned, he was doing the same thing, building a congregation. They were very clear. Most people in my community are not from Texas. Everybody is a visitor. They came from somewhere else. It would be like, “How do you have your children engaged in the community? Do they belong to a youth group? Are they doing summer camp?” It was like, “Well, no.” “Why not? Here is what we have.” They had you covered 12 months a year, everything from vacation, Bible school, summer camp, fall and spring break camp. “For you, what are you interested in? What are you involved in? We have the men’s group and the ladies’ group.” By the time you finished talking to him, if you didn’t join, he would say, “What’s the problem?” He would be quiet. He would listen and address it. Why? Because he has clarity.

This is what I find most about the ask oftentimes. People aren’t clear about what they’re asking, what they really want, or how one thing affects the other. That’s one thing.

The discomfort in asking for money is in all of us. It doesn’t matter who you are. Everybody at one time or another has had to ask for money for something: from your parents. You’re trying to get something past with your budget. Everyone has had to ask for money, and it’s always uncomfortable. Why is it uncomfortable? Because in our society we say it’s uncomfortable, but the truth is our society doesn’t work unless there is money. The sooner you can get comfortable talking about money, then you will find that it comes to you.

For example, most people think about asking for money, “Debbie, will you give me $500?” But if you have a conversation with me where you’re engaging me, asking me what’s important to me, where have I given before, what other causes do I care about, those kinds of things, and you’re learning that what I want is in direct correlation with what you want, and then you’re telling me about what it is that you’re offering and that you’re looking for donations of $500, well, instead of you having to say, “Debbie, will you give me $500?” that is a conversation where I can say, “I can donate $500. Is there anything else you need?” It’s a conversation.

One thing in these conversations where people get tripped up is they are asking yes/no questions. You ask someone a question and they say, “No.” You don’t know where to go next. What I teach people is to remember to ask open-ended questions. Who, what, where, why, how, and when. The first time you’re visiting with somebody, what are the three questions you need to ask? What are those three questions that would qualify this person in your mind that they are the right person or company for you to talk to? Think about it like a road map. You have a fundraising campaign for $5 million. You’ve got until October 31. It’s a map. How do we get from here to here? You will have to talk to how many people. What do you ask them the first time you talk to them? What do you ask them the second time you talk to them? Do some people give you money the first time you talk to them because it’s a small amount? Are other people going to give you more money the seventh time they talk to you because it’s a much larger amount and have to be talked to seven times? What are the questions you need to ask going along?

Long ago I was interviewed by Cheryl Hall, the business editor for the Dallas Morning News. In Dallas, Texas this is a big deal. It’s like having front page advertising on the business section of the paper. I am a one-person business, so this is very exciting. My PR guy gets me this interview. He comes with us because he knows her well. He said, “I’ll drink coffee while y’all visit.” I said I believed this was really a conversation. It goes back and forth and back and forth. Then people say, “Great. Where do I sign?” My PR guy says to Cheryl, “That’s not everything she says.” I was horrified. I said, “This is exactly what I say.” He said, “Nope,” and kept sipping his coffee. She finally put down her pen and said, “We’re not going any further until you tell me what you really say.”

It dawned on me: If you are talking more than 60% of the time, hush. You’re not getting any new information. This is one of the powerful things about open-ended questions: getting them to talk. Get them to give you the information you need to know if you are in the right place or with the right person so that then you can move on to the next. Oftentimes people are uncomfortable when it comes to talking about money, so they just keep talking. It’s not necessarily about what they are there to be talking about. They just keep talking. The other person doesn’t really have a chance to engage or ask questions. You go away thinking, “I had a great meeting. It went an hour.” They’re going, “I’m not really sure what they were looking for.” Being clear with what your ask is and knowing what questions you need to ask to find out if you are with the right decisionmakers who can write you a check.

Hugh: I remember Zig Ziglar telling a story in his speeches about a kid who goes to his mom and asks a question. She says, “Why don’t you ask your dad?” He says, “Because I don’t want to know that much about it.” They don’t want to know everything. There are great sound bites in this.

Debbie, we build an organization. Maybe we build our strategy, board, and committees. It’s like building a car. Sometimes we learn how to drive it, stay between the white lanes. Now we need to put gas in it. That’s the money. We tend to think it’s going to come automatically because we run a religious institution or charity with a good cause that people will give to. Guess what? There is a lot of competition for really good projects. People feel torn. I will unpack some great things that whizzed by here.

Let me start with a fundamental one. You hit on it several times. As a musician, one of the skills I stress of course is listening. That is one of the most underutilized leadership skills. What you just talked about, for many years, I’ve taught at a business growth conference. Probably during a week, I have 150 people give me their spiel. They go on and on and on. When they are finished, I don’t have a clue about what they’re doing. The economy of words is critical, but it’s the right words. Knowing what you want, knowing what you’re doing, and knowing exactly how you are going to present to people. Part of it is I’ve just realized when you said that that people are nervous so they just overdrive. They are nervous with silence, so they want to talk. The use of silence, and then using that as a clarifying moment, talk a little bit more about that.

First, you have to be clear. Here is the problem, and this is how we’re solving it, and this is what will happen with your donation. Don’t make it a yes or no. It’s how much, or when would you like to be engaged? Like my preacher, when will you join the church, now or later? It worked over and over. How do you gain clarity on what are the important parts to present? How does listening play into this, and how does silence play into this?

Debbie: One of the best things I think you can do is you sit down yourself and make a list of what it is you think you’re doing. What is your offer? What do you think the value is? Write them down, all of them. It’s not something to do in 10 minutes. Put a card in your pocket, carry it around with you for three or four days. It also includes this. It also includes this. For example, if you were buying a computer, you would think a computer would help you keep up with your data, and it would help you communicate. What else does a computer do? It saves you all kinds of time because you can talk to people on this machine. There is oftentimes a lot of other things that go with the value of what you’re doing that you don’t consciously think about.

After you’ve had your three or four days putting your list together, call up your five business friends or congregation members you really admire. Say to them, “We are working on a new campaign, a new program, a new offer. I would like somebody to bounce it off of that is not in the decision-making process with me. Would you be open to listening to what I have in mind?” Most people will say yes. Then you go and present it like you think you want it, how you’ve thought it out. The other person hears it sand says, “What about this?” or, “Oh, that sounds great. It seems like you could do this at the same time.” Don’t judge anybody, what they tell you, their feedback. Even if they just say, “It’s great,” take that and move to the next person.

When you have talked to these five people and gotten their feedback, you will probably find you were simply not as clear as you thought you were, or you’re actually doing much more than you’re giving credit yourself for. You need to find a way to speak that more quickly when you are sharing with other people. That is my first thing: getting clarity, but doing it through practice before you go out to who you really want the message to be solid and clear about.

Then being comfortable in the silence. Here is the deal. Silence is your very best tool. The most powerful tools you have are these two little things that stick out on each side of your head. 60% of communication is listening. Listening to hear, not listening to wait for them to quit talking. Listening to hear what it is they are saying. So many people have had conversations, and they are on track. Then they get to a point that maybe the buyer, the person who you want to give money, they just need a moment to process. They sit back in their chair, or they are pensive for a moment. You are so uncomfortable with that silence that you need to start talking again. What they need is that silence to process. Maybe they don’t process as quickly as you do. This is why it’s so important when you do business with people to see people. He’s not ignoring you. He’s just being quiet so he can think for a moment and put his thoughts together as to what he wants. There is an old joke about who talks first loses. I don’t believe that. But it is that you do have to get comfortable in that silence.

When you think you have everything answered, you ask again, “What else would you like to know? What else could I share with you?” Then they say one more thing to you. You write it down, make note, and respond to it. You say, “What else?” You continue to do that until you have nothing else that they want to know or ask or hear again. In that, they feel like they have all the information they need. You have given all the information. Then it is, “Let’s get started.” If they say, “No, I can’t,” then you’re right there, right now. You don’t have to make another appointment. “What could we do so that this could be a decision today?” It may be that it just can’t be today, but you’re asking them. “I need to do this. I just haven’t thought about it.” “When can we meet again?” Do not ever leave a meeting or call when you don’t have another plan of action for the next time you’re connecting. Okay?

Being comfortable with silence is very important. Also, some people are just a lot more shy than you. They are just not as talkative as you are.

Hugh: That’s hard for those of us who are extroverts. What I’ve learned about the extrovert/introvert thing is we who are extroverts tend to scare people who are introverts because we come on so strong. We make suggestions, and introverts hear that as a final answer. I have to pull back a lot. Being an oldest brother of brothers is a certain distinctive style of being in charge that I must be aware of.

You highlighted presentation skills, which I was hoping we’d get to. We are leaders. We are championing a cause. We can make all the excuses we want. “I am not a salesperson. I don’t like to talk about money.” Get over it. If you’re not good at it, do it. You may not be the primary person, but you are a leader. In my world, a leader is an influencer. It’s not push leadership, it’s pull, so how do we influence people to come in our direction? The conductor doesn’t reach out; the conductor brings people to the beat.

We’re going to unpack the response part of this and the silence and responding. How do we handle objections? You talked about some of that.

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We are talking to Debbie Mrazek, founder and chief cookin’ bottle washer of The Sales Company. You have to use hyphens. It’s We are afraid to ask for that donation, for that board position, for that committee member. We are afraid to ask for somebody to commit because they might say no. You mentioned earlier don’t make it a yes or no decision. My pastor said, “When are you going to join the church?” There was a clear motion forward. When you make the ask, if I heard you clearly, you want to shut up, listen, and give that person space. Whether or not the next person who talks loses, the next person who talks will have a significant impact on how it moves forward. If someone wants to know more information, you give that until they run out of questions.

But how do we handle objections? I’ve heard the old adage in the sales world, an objection is a request for information. They might be objecting because they don’t understand everything. So what is your take on that?

Debbie: I believe no is simply the beginning of a conversation. First, let me just say, Hugh, you crack me up with the hyphens between my company name. When I went to get, the guy who had it wanted $3 million for it. I said, “Oh, I don’t think so.” I went back to my designer, and she said, “We’re going to put hyphens on there and pay the $150,” so that’s what we did. Later, I met the guy who wanted $3 million. Do you know how nuts you are? The rest of the story, Paul Harvey.

Objections. One of the things about objections is it’s perceived generally in our culture to be negative. An objection isn’t necessarily a negative. More often than not, it’s really a question. They’re posing it, like, “I don’t, I won’t, I can’t.” Think about what it is they’re saying before you respond. Is what they’re saying something physical? Is it a feeling? Is it emotional? What is it they are saying with what you’re perceiving to be their objection? Then begin again, asking open-ended questions. You might say something like, “It sounds like you’ve had experience with this before. Would you share that with me?” They can say, “Yes, I participated in a campaign. This was supposed to happen, and this didn’t happen.” Ask, “What could have been done differently there?” The armchair people always say, “It wasn’t right.” “What could have been?” Then you respond with how you would respond to that objection. They’ve had experience with this before, and they didn’t like it. You’re wanting to get to what that experience was before that led them to their objecting now, and really hear that. Then you can respond with how you would respond to the objection.

The most important part in responding to an objection is don’t get your feelings hurt. Don’t get your nose out of joint. They simply don’t understand everything you’ve said. I am going to say this: 99.99% has nothing to do with you. The way people respond to objections so often is as if it’s personal. And it’s not.

Hugh: It makes it worse.

Debbie: Yes. It absolutely does. When you feel it’s personal, whether you realize it or not, you intuitively are defensive. That person feels that. They may not be able to say, “You’re acting defensive,” but they feel something is unsettled. It’s not right. Whereas if someone has an objection, you continue to ask questions, and the conversation simply continues. There is no emotion. There is no antagonism. Then you might find the guy doesn’t have an objection. He just needed more understanding.

Hugh: It’s relationship.

Debbie: It is.

Hugh: We forget that.

Debbie: Relationship is everything.

Hugh: What we teach at SynerVision is underneath leadership is relationship. Underneath communications is relationship. Underneath the financial results is relationship. It’s all dependent on having a trusted relationship with people. It’s not that they’re your best friend, but who is going to give you money if they don’t trust you?

Debbie: Right. Trust is key.

Hugh: There were times in my 40 years when we’d finished a service, and someone would come at me with their finger pointed and be very angry about a hymn choice. What I wanted to say is because you don’t have good taste or you’re stupid or something. I was well-behaved. What I developed is, “I know how you feel. I felt that way until I found out how precious it was and now it’s my best friend. Do you have a best friend? Was there a time when that person was not your best friend?” Part of an objection is helping people change a paradigm because they are missing something.

Debbie: One of the things I say quite oftentimes when somebody is objecting is simply, “Well, that’s interesting.” Emotion neutral. “That’s interesting. Tell me more.”

Hugh: No value judgment.

Debbie: Exactly. Sometimes they just need to get it out. They didn’t get to speak at the last experience they had, and they are still mad about it. Allow them to bring that information forward because that information is going to be something you can respond to. You may be able to do something, and you may not. I understand that. At least you will have addressed that objection. You know if you can or can’t do something with it, and it allows both of you to move on instead of leaving one another and going, “Now what can we do?” It will be clear what the path forward is.

Hugh: Love it. We have some really brilliant people watching. I am going to let them ask questions if that’s okay with you. I’m going to ask one more question first. People say to me often, “I don’t know anybody to ask. I don’t know where to go.” How do we create new opportunities to have conversations?

Debbie: Oh my gosh. I like to say, “Start where you are.” Who are you with today? Doesn’t matter. Who are you with today? You’ve got that kind of question. When you’re with them, say, “By the way, this morning when I was getting ready, I had this thought: Do you know who I might talk to about this?” You will be amazed. The randomness of your thought and the randomness of this person, there is no way. You will be stunned when this person says to you, “Oh my gosh, well, my next-door neighbor is the president of… That’s what they do all day. Would you like to talk to him about it?” “Yes, I would.” Or I say to people now, if there is something that you want to know, depending on what it is, I’m not talking about giving away secrets, just to pose something in the form of a question on LinkedIn or other social media, “What do you think? Who do you know who is working in that space?” The sum of the parts is greater than the whole. These people will tell you.

Hugh: That’s synergy in Covey’s definition. Back to the relationship piece. As we approach people, we want to be cautioned that wealthy people and businesspeople sometimes feel like they are treated like an ATM with nonprofit leaders. What you have created is a substantive conversation about relationships. Maybe you don’t get to money in the first conversation.

Debbie: That’s right. You need to understand them and where they are. For example, 2020 is a beautiful example of this. There were people last year who were planning, were intentioned that they were going to donate X amount of money to this, this, and this. 2020 came, flipped their world upside down. They did not have the revenue they expected in their business to be able to give to others they care about, so they can’t do that. For you to come in and talk about the donation they are going to make this year, start the conversation about where are they, what are they up to, what’s changed, what did 2020 do to them? Some people, 2020 did great things to. It provided opportunity they normally would never have had, so they had money when they normally wouldn’t have money.

Going in, thinking about a conversation, thinking about yourself. These things, to make it feel personal. The most successful salespeople are personal. I don’t mean they have to be extroverted. Back to always being caring. They ask about you. They genuinely want to know what has happened. You want to work with them even if it’s a bad year and they can’t donate anything. You need to let them know that you value this relationship, and you will be there when this is over for them. But in the meantime, what could you do? Who do you know that could help them maybe get past it more quickly? There is always something in it for both of you.

Hugh: Brilliant. That is a lot to calm anxiety. You may have seen this book Philanthropy Misunderstood, and you may have seen the article in there. Bob Hopkins is our mutual friend who connected us. What comment or question do you have, Bob?

Bob Hopkins: I told you Debbie was a force to be reckoned with, and she is. I have known her for 25 years. I have known a lot of people for 25 years, and Debbie, you can’t just get away from. It’s not because she is pursuing you; it’s because she has lots of reasons for us to pursue her.

Anyway, in my book, she wrote an article that changed my life, and that’s why I’m still connected with her. It’s called “The Circle of Influence.” It’s not what you know; it’s who you know. You know what? I thought I knew that, and I didn’t know that, but I didn’t know it is a theory, a practice, and a skill. Debbie taught me it was a skill, a practice, and important. I teach my students in communications about all that. Debbie, you haven’t said much about that today because you’ve said so many important things. You have said to know people. You have said relationships. How do you develop relationships?

Debbie: Very good. First of all, this influence, I teach something I call the rule of 250. Each and every one of us know at least 250 people. Before you go, “No, I don’t,” think about it: your family, your friends, your colleagues, people you’ve worked with previously, people you volunteer with, your church, your kids’ groups.

Hugh, when you were talking about this idea and I said seek out five people and you will be amazed at who they know and how this works, I share a story about there was a gentleman who I loved. Great man. He lived in Dallas. Like many people in Dallas, he was from somewhere else. Every year, when it came time for Thanksgiving, he went to Grandma’s house, and he complained. This was the most lovely man. I could not believe he made his family sound like such wolves.

The fourth year he did this, I finally said to him, “You make me crazy. Grandma is not going to live forever. Why don’t you go to her house like you do a chamber event and act like you don’t know anybody and be nice and be civil and talk to everyone else?” He’s like, “Mrazek, you make me nuts.” I said, “You make me nuts, and she’s not going to live forever. Period.”

Fast forward Monday morning. I have a voicemail. Someone is screaming, “Mrazek, I hate your guts. Call me.” Well, I realized who it was. I was thinking this man isn’t going to be my client anymore. I am honoring enough to call him and say, “What’s the deal?” He doesn’t let me say, “Hello” or anything. He said, “Debbie, what is the #1 company I have been trying to get into for four years?” I said, “General Electric.” He said, “Well, guess who my uncle is?” I said, “I haven’t a clue.” He said, “My uncle is the president of the division of General Electric.” I could not keep myself from saying, “How long has he been your uncle? 45 years.”

The people that you want are more close to you than you can even imagine. I will tell you I’ve even done this in an audience of 2,000. Ask for a volunteer. “Who in here is brave enough to stand up and say someone or a company they would like to meet? You don’t have to have a reason why.” Usually there is one who will stand up and say, “John Smith.” “Great, please sit down.” Then I ask, “Is there anyone in this audience who knows John Smith and would be willing to introduce this lady to him?” Someone always stands up. We all know people, but we don’t share with people enough about what we do.

I tell you this, I’ve learned it for myself. I shared with you I am a one-person company. If you had told me 25 years ago that 90% of my business would come from referrals, not people I made a sales call on, but people who called me and said, “I talked to Mary. She said you kicked her in the tush, and you do this great thing and I should hire you. When can we start?” I would never have believed you. But that is the truth of what my business is.

Imagine that your community knows you so well. They are clear on your mission, what you believe, what you think. They tell two people who tell two people who tell two people. Your community grows not because you have touched everyone individually but you have touched enough people and been clear with your message that other people can engage with it and repeat it and engage others. Therefore, your community grows exponentially, or your revenue.

Hugh: Love it. Bob, you got her excited. Love it. Bob is in Dallas. Let’s go to California. Burke Franklin owns a power tools business and has a BizPlan Builder. Burke, do you have a question or comment? Having the structure of doing a business plan or strategic plan helps you know what to ask for. Burke?

Burke Franklin: I think about the pastor you said in Atlanta who had no hesitation to say, “Are you going to join my church?” If you really know what you’re doing, what you’re about, and you have it all dialed in, the business plan really helps you understand what you’re doing, who you are, and why. It makes it much easier to have the confidence to look someone in the eye and ask them, “Do you want to do this thing?” I have tried different sales pitches.

I remember circling buildings when I used to sell electronic components for Texas Instruments. Tried to come up with the perfect thing to say, “What’s my opening line? What’s my closing line going to be? How can I do this perfectly?” Stop circling the building. Drive into the parking lot. Walk in the front door. Go, “Hi, my name is Burke Franklin. I sell electronic components for Texas Instruments. What do you guys do?” It’s a matter of going in and asking. It doesn’t matter what you say. You’ll sort that out along the way. The idea is to ask and figure out how to say it better later on. At least start trying. Start experimenting with how you ask for the money.

The other thing is the fear of money, the fear of profit. If I make a profit, I’m stealing. What profit is is the value you bring to the party, the fact that you’re involved in this transaction, whether you found a product or service for someone, or bringing it to them faster, or helping them put it together. Your contribution to the deal is where you earn your profit. It’s based on the value to the other person, not your cost plus some percentage. That’s irrelevant.

With a business plan software, I can charge someone $5,000-$10,000 to write a business plan. Or I could sell you a software tool for $100 and you can do it yourself. You will save some time and money. I have nothing on saying, “You can get this software for $100 and do all this.” And pitch investors. The idea of how much effort I’m saving someone, what is the value to them? That’s where my profit comes in: the value I am bringing to them.

The ideal pitch is not so relevant. You will get better at that as you do it. The thing is to start asking. Would you like to buy this product? Are you interested in subscribing today? Whatever you want to say. Say something. At least ask.

Hugh: Thank you, Burke. Debbie, do you want to respond to that?

Debbie: Burke, I love you. Practice, practice, practice. There are two companies who have invented the same thing, so they say. You look at one and go, “This one is far superior. It has this, this, and this. This one, not so much. This one has done great, and this one hasn’t at all.” It’s exactly what Burke was saying. You got to show up and start. Just practice. You don’t know how to say hello the first time you walk in, but now you do. So go to the next place and you know how to say hello and ask for a question. You know that and go to the third place. You say hello, ask a question, and ask to see someone. It is with that practice.

There are so many people who build the greatest mousetrap, and they think the world will beat a path to their door. They will want it and buy it. Guess what? The world does not do that. That is why often you see the guy who doesn’t have the best mousetrap have the best business because he has told everybody. That rule of 250, he has told those 250 people and the 250 they know. Everybody knows what he does. Even if they don’t understand it completely, they will pick up the phone and call Burke, “You said this?” He can say, “Yes, it is,” or “No, it’s not that.” You have a conversation going. The deal is most people can have a conversation about what they can do. How do you get the privilege of having that conversation? You have got to start somewhere. Excellent point, Burke. Also on value as well. I can’t believe you worked at TI, too.

Hugh: I want to try to get Jeffrey Fulgham in. Jeffrey and Bob are both certified fundraising professionals. Jeffrey, do you have a comment or question for our guest?

Jeffrey Fulgham: I’ll talk really fast. Debbie, I enjoyed every single part of this. It was incredible. I left a sales career 30 years ago and moved into fundraising. I thought this thing you said about always caring and always closing is just phenomenal. That’s what I brought from my sales career into philanthropy. As soon as a customer or client or donor realizes that we’re more interested in them as a person and their specific needs than we are in their money, it changes everything. That relationship is everything. Trust is so incredibly critical. I am so glad you said it. I always get up and say, “Fundraising is not about money. It’s about relationships.” What happens if a donor can’t make a gift one year? What happens if there is a relationship? Nothing happens. It continues on because we care about them more than the gift they thought they could make this year but can’t make. Some people just have bad years. What are we supposed to do with them? We’re supposed to care about them and carry them forward. That’s really what it’s all about.

Debbie: Love them through the process. Jeffrey, I so admire that and how you’ve taken that and put it into a career of nonprofit. I have several successful salespeople who I’ve known that in their career they’ve gone on and done nonprofit and been successful at it because they could raise money.

Jeffrey: It’s been a lot of fun.

Hugh: Jeffrey and Bob are advisors for SynerVision Leadership Foundation. Thank you for being here today.

Debbie, I want to ask you another question. Being very clear on the value, we’ve heard over and over again. How do we help convey that value to make it easier for people to say yes? We’ve talked about this some. How can we make it easier and clearer for people to say yes?

Debbie: Understand what your value is. The value isn’t always with a computer that the computer makes things easier. The computer saves you time. The deal with value is you have to speak it. You have to tell people, “The value of this is 1, 2, 3.” There are many values. Some people will care about some of the values and not others. You must know them. If someone woke you up in the middle of the night from a dead sleep, you can say, “Our five values are these.” I’m not talking about something you posted on the wall. I’m talking about knowing what this value is. “If you do this, we will educate our first through sixth graders in our community, and we will save X amount of dollars in our community over the next 12 years by doing this. That percentage, if they are able to continue with school, they will go to college and do this.” Really understand it. Whichever one it is, you can speak to it, and you can speak to it with passion and knowledge.

Hugh: Wow. I wish you could get over being so bashful. You’re so passionate about what you’re doing. It’s highly contagious. *Sponsored by SynerVision Leadership Foundation*

Debbie Mrazek, We’ve learned so much today. I’ll bet you there is a whole lot more you can learn with Debbie. Great stuff today. What do you want to leave people with today?

Debbie: I’ll leave you with what I always leave my audience: However you showed up at this call today, however you found out about it, you do not have to be great to get started. But you do have to get started to be great. Burke really teed it up. You do not have to be great to get started, but you do have to get started to be great. We know you want to be great. Whatever you haven’t done, let it go. Begin today. It’s a new beginning.

Hugh: Thank you so much, Debbie for being our guest today.

Debbie: Thank you for having me.


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