How Using Data From Prospect Research Can Boost Major Gifts Revenue

Major Giving, prospecting

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As major giving programs become more important to the overall revenue picture at public media organizations, it is critical to run these programs as efficiently as possible. A key tool for many successful major giving programs is prospect research. Simply put, prospect research is a formal and organized way of determining whether or not a person is a good major gift prospect.

This kind of vetting is commonly used by hospitals and universities. Investments in prospect research aren’t as common in public media because stations tend to start their major giving programs at a lower level of giving ($1,000 or $2,500). As we in public media set our sights on higher levels of giving and conduct more relationship-based major gifts work, the benefits of prospect research become much more pronounced. Prospect research delivers the information and context that major gift officers need in order to do their job efficiently and strategically.

What Is Prospect Research?

Prospect identification and research: discovering and evaluating prospective donors and their interest, relationships, inclination to give and philanthropic capacity to inform and support an organization's fundraising strategies and outreach efforts.

- Apra (Association for Prospect Development)

Prospect research is most often thought of as a simple wealth screening tool where a company does an electronic sweep of all or part of a database and assigns a wealth score or grouping to donors. Prospect research then goes beyond wealth screening to develop a more well-rounded picture of a donor’s possible interest in an organization and in philanthropy, as well as their financial capacity for a charitable gift. Prospect research can be used to find new major giving or planned giving prospects from your current database, manage new prospects as they are discovered, sort through the volume of data you uncover, build major giving portfolios for new gift officers, and help giving officers identify the priority for donor outreach.

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Secrets of the Best Sales Reps: Systems

sales strategy, Corporate Support, prospecting

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I used to work for a guy who would ask one key question during the interview process: “What makes you good at what you do?” If the candidate couldn’t articulate that, he wasn’t interested in hiring them. When I asked him about it, he said that really good salespeople have a self-awareness of why they are successful that makes their behavior repeatable. And this is the key: Do you know what you do when you win, and can you do it again…and again...and again?

As sales reps we need to know what brings us success so that we can repeat that behavior. Having good systems is one of the best ways to do that. Systems allow you to build self-awareness of why and how prospects choose to do business with you. You can be the most charming and persuasive person, but if you can’t keep track of yourself, those wins will merely be luck- and not necessarily repeatable.


For active accounts, you should have a way to track past, current, and future billing. Are they spending more each year, the same, or less? Do you know why? You need to offer excellent service to your active accounts which includes meeting their copy needs and knowing when to change the message.

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Nurture Your Underwriting Client Relationships After the Close

sales strategy, Corporate Support, prospecting

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You’ve worked hard to sign up your new underwriter. You started with an initial meeting to learn about her challenges and objectives. Then you followed up with information how your media can provide a solution targeting her desired outcome. She liked your presentation and proposal; your answers to her questions, and she decided to become an underwriter.

What do you do now?

Believe it or not, the sale is not complete. The commitment is there but you’ve not yet started to deliver what she purchased. So, next up… 

Write up the underwriting agreement and have it signed and returned to you.

Corporate Support Administrative Templates

Draft the underwriting copy so it conveys her marketing message and complies with the FCC’s and your station’s copy guidelines. Once the copy is approved, send her a recording of the spot. Let her know she can share it with her employees and post it on her company’s website. 

Send her a schedule of times that her underwriting spots will air during the first week so she’ll know when to listen in to hear her spot.

After the contract is signed, the copy is produced and ready for airing, and you’ve sent her the list of when her spots will air during the first week you’re all done. Right?

There’s still more work to be done.

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How Radio Underwriting Serves the Sponsor Like No Other Medium Does

Corporate Support, prospecting

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“A lot of buyers want to get back into TV, radio, out-of-home, and print because they feel like digital can get lost. The most accountable media turned into the least accountable media and the most filled with fraud.”

- Havas CEO ColinKinsella

Many of us have sensed similar shifting perceptions from buyers about digital advertising. They are aware of ROI limitations in the digital space. And those of us selling radio underwriting often play right into their ambivalence when we don’t use directness, precision, and education about the medium of radio to address their most fundamental question: Will my underwriting work?

Paul Jacobs recently explored this topic in at blog post titled “Can Radio Have Its Cake & Eat It, Too?” He says radio may have an advantage when buyers shimmy back and forth on the question of branding or reach in the digital space. Radio delivers for underwriters in ways that aren’t directly replicated by other options. Here’s how you can speak persuasively to those advantages in your conversations with prospects:

1. Don’t lose sight of how singular radio is as a medium.

Do we truly understand the broader story of our medium-the story of radio? Radio is a unique medium because of the intimacy and theater of the mind that we invoke. This is particularly true on public radio, when our member listeners put such a high level of trust in our product, whether it’s NPR news or music curation. Listeners almost universally have a picture in their mind of what an on-air announcer looks like. This speaks to their connection to the voice and to us.

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When Face-to-Face Is Better Than Technology at Selling More Underwriting

sales strategy, Corporate Support, social media, prospecting

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How you conduct business, whether you are an owner, operator, manager, or sales executive, has become increasingly dependent on social media, but are we beginning to depend on it so much that we don't communicate productively?

I believe that with our increasing world of transparency and connectivity, it's important to recognize how social media can help our professional brands, digital marketing strategy, new business development, and client relations. But are we forgetting or neglecting the power of human interaction within the sales process?

Here's how to tell if you're using social media to effectively socialize with prospects and clients.

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How to Use Social Selling to Boost Credibility and Strengthen Your Station's Brand

sales strategy, Corporate Support, social media, prospecting

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Social selling is a powerful part of the approach in our now-transparent sales landscape. I feel every salesperson should embrace LinkedIn, Twitter, and even Facebook, as they plan to approach and attempt to engage with new business prospects. Whether you choose to use paid services or navigate social media on your own, it’s a platform where you can earn trust and establish credibility with your very best prospects. It’s also a platform that, if used incorrectly, could damage your credibility with your very best prospects. OUCH!

It’s the potential to damage credibility that I have found to deter some sellers from using social selling, so here are three things you can do to ensure you’re using social selling to strengthen your personal brand and not damage it: 

1. Think about your audience.

It’s not uncommon to use social media for selling, but it’s also not uncommon to use social media for job-searching. Considering many prospects will search a potential vendor or a salesperson online before deciding to engage, what they see on your profile is perceived as what they’ll likely get. It’s a fine line between selling yourself to potential employers or selling yourself to prospects. If your profile reads like a resume, it can be a high turn-off to prospects viewing your profile.

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Five Game-Changing Ways to Manage Your Time Wisely

underwriting, sales strategy, Corporate Support, time management, prospecting, small stations, New Year's resolutions, checklist

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There are work days when eight or even 10 hours just aren’t enough. It seems like that time barely covers the client calls and emails that need answering, not to mention the order paperwork and follow-up, prospecting, appointment-setting, research on prospects, and proposals.

Does that sound familiar?

I hear from sales reps that they’re on the go starting the minute they get into the office. At times, opening email can be an hours-long detour away from what they should, want, or need to be doing to generate underwriting sales.

What to do?

Begin the new year accepting the fact that you can’t stop time to accommodate your schedule. But you can manage your work activities. Here are some ideas to help you to be more effective and productive.

Start each day by writing a list of three to five priorities.

Base the priorities on what is crucial for you to accomplish today. Ask yourself what five things you can do today that will most affect your underwriting revenue. Write them down in order of importance, and then…

Work each one through until it’s done.

Cross it off of your list and then work on the next priority. Working each one through to completion is the key. Don’t even think of multitasking! Be sure to cross each task off your list when you're done. This helps builds momentum and a sense of accomplishment and empowerment. Most importantly, you'll be getting your important priorities done each day.

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Dispatch From the Trenches: My Three Principles of Underwriting Sales Success

underwriting, sales strategy, Corporate Support, prospecting, small stations, leadership

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A few years back, I had the chance to start up an underwriting department at a station that had never had one.Having been in public radio sales for a number of years, and having a few years in sales management, I was intrigued by the challenge.Since nobody in the market knew we were an option for their media dollars, I had my work cut out for me.

I realize that most sales people are not in this extreme situation. But we are all familiar with having to find new business.Over the past three years I've been my own guinea pig; I've had to apply each and every sales technique I learned over the course of my career to see what really worked.I was ultimately able to increase the underwriting revenue at my new station from $50,000 to $450,000. Here are three overriding principles that I have lived by in order to achieve that outcome. Important: discipline has most certainly been my core principle from the start.

1. Call New Prospects Constantly

Yes, that means cold calls, but if you are thoughtful about it, they are more like warm calls.It’s critical that you understand who your audience is, do your research and call the right prospects.Many of them will be glad you called.

When preparing to call, plan for two contingencies:

  1. They don’t answer the phone and you have to leave a message.
  2. They do answer the phone and you have to actually have something intelligent to say.

You should have a reason for calling, whether it’s a specific idea, an example of how a company like theirs has had success on your station, or to share some information that would benefit them. The goal of the calls is an appointment.

I believe in writing out a sample script for each scenario.You don’t have to follow it exactly, but at least you will have some words in your head that you have practiced so you don’t end up saying, “Hi, this is Sue Smith from WXYZ. Please call me back at 206-123-4567.”Seriously. Would you call you back?

When you feel ignored, you can’t take it personally. Chances are that they simply don’t have any money for you at the moment and can’t take the time to call you back.If you leave compelling messages they will respond eventually.

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More Hot Prospecting Ideas for Fall

sales strategy, Corporate Support, prospecting, Automotive

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The leaves are falling, the air is becoming crisp, but before the temperatures tell you it’s winter, it’s time to call on businesses that benefit from the change of seasons. In a previous article I explained that most homeowners winterize their homes each year, and that home contractors, window contractors and general contractors are great prospects for underwriting on public radio and TV.

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Hot Prospecting Ideas for Fall

sales strategy, Corporate Support, prospecting, small stations

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When it comes to ideas for underwriting in the fall – think warm. Many local businesses are experts at keeping people toasty as these summer days grow colder.

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