Are you in Development or in Sales?


Are you in development or in sales? Fundraisers ask this perennial question as they raise money for non-profit organizations. Recently, a senior corporate business development leader highlighted major similarities between development and sales:

  1. In development and in sales, we have to bring solutions to our clients and donors. Those with good listening skills bring the sale to a close.
  2. Sales has targeted sales plans that track revenue from clients; development plans yield gifts from donors.
  3. Validated sales bring new  revenue to the sales team while new pledges bring in new income to a non-profit agency.
  4. We strive to convert new sales into ongoing sales while in development we move first time donors into annual giving.
  5. Metrics are key  in both areas. In sales we quantify substantial meetings that move a sales forward, in development we constantly monitor our pipeline. How many proposals do we have that can yield results in the short and long-term?
  6. In sales, marketing determines opportunities while in development, research provides key donor data.
  7. In sales, we track time spend with customers while in development we track visits.
  8. Sales teams track velocity- how many days did it take to close the sale? Development teams track the number of interactions that occur before we make an ask.
  9. In sales, we check signed bids while in development we look at signed gift agreements.

Since there are so many similarities, why is development different from sales? Development professionals believe that their task often involves selling an emotion that sometimes will not fall into a progressive, well-documented, predictive closing system. Do you think this is true?

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