Speaking for the DMA Nonprofit Federation

A few days ago I had the privilege of presenting the keynote speech “Imagine That! Influencing the Elephant” to the Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Federation at the New York Sheraton in Manhattan. The experience was renewing on a number of levels, first of which was the audience. Here were 500 conference participants representing well over 150 organizations – ranging from the American Heart Association, Save the Children, and The Mayo Clinic to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Every attendee does what he or she does – from the heart. They are directly involved in raising fundraising.

After presenting my program – IMAINGE THAT! to a sales team from a major pharmaceutical company, my wife and I were asked to join them for dinner. After some wonderful dialogue about the program, my wife asked the eight people in attendance question. I have to preface this by saying that my wife is a movie critic and knows absolutely nothing about the art of selling. She is also a very curious person who is always on the lookout to learn something new. The question posed to each member at the table: “What do you think is most important element about selling?”
There was a beat where I could witness each person looking inwards to find his or her best answer. The answers to my wife’s questions were: transparency, uncovering the problem, empathy, establishing rapport and identifying the difference between similar products. Interestingly enough, no one said “closing the sale” or “persistence” or “cold calling.”
The answers insightful given made me think that a great sales training course might be based on simply asking each of the top sales people in a company that same question, choosing 7-10 of the best ideas and – creating the program.