Turn a “No” Into a “Yes”

Framing-Your-Pitch-YesThe Simple Task of Framing

You just made a pitch to a potential volunteer who would be perfect on your planning team… but she said, “No.”

You went to all the trouble to set up a lunch meeting with the prospective volunteer. You developed your recruiting pitch and delivered it flawlessly.

No dice.

Now you have to start all over again.

Rejection is so stressful. And if we hear “no” a lot, we often question our ability to recruit. Self doubt begins to have a negative effect on our ability to cope with the daunting task of recruiting.

One way to turn around our recruiting success is a method called “framing.”  All potential volunteers make a decision based on a buying frame.  Just like a window frame sets boundaries that limit the view, so a decision frame sets boundaries that narrow, focus, and simplify a decision.

Car salesmen do this to you every time you go car shopping. Think about it. What do they ask you?

  • New or pre-owned?
  • Finance or pay cash?
  • SUV, sedan, or sports car?
  • Electric, hybrid, or gas?
  • European, Japanese, or U.S.?
  • Budget… Tercel or Tesla?

They are framing us.

What is a volunteer’s decision frame?

Some important issues might be one or more of the following:

  • What is the time commitment?
  • What is the mission?
  • What the impact?
  • How can I use my professional expertise to make a difference?
  • What’s in it for me?
  • Are you flexible in scheduling?

One pitch doesn’t fit all because each volunteer’s frame is unique. Some framing concerns are important while other framing questions are not an issue. If we don’t know what the volunteer’s decision frame is, we answer questions that aren’t asked and reap two possible pitfalls:

  • We face another rejection as the prospective volunteer says, “No!”
  • Or even worse, we have just recruited a high-maintenance volunteer, and oh how we wish they had said, “no.”

How do we discover the volunteer’s decision frame? 

The 80/20 rule is the key to understanding a volunteer’s hot buttons that frame the decision to volunteer. It’s simple—listen 80% and talk 20%.

We are so passionate we often practice the 20/80 rule when making our pitch—passionate people tend to talk 80% of the time when recruiting. Reverse that. Or as my friend Mike, a U.S. Marine, always says… “Shut your cake eater.”

New Breed volunteers like to be asked, and when asked, they may respond with either a, “No, I can’t do that right now,” or “Tell me more.”  Framing a response to either of those answers is a learned skill that really isn’t that hard; however, it takes the discipline to shut your cake eater, ask questions, and listen carefully for the concerns that frame the decision.

How does it work? 

If the potential volunteer responds by saying, “I would never do that because I hate working on committees,” resist the temptation to launch into a sale’s pitch about how your committees are not the traditional inept, micromanaged committees but empowered teams.  Instead, gather more information… and listen.

Ask about past committee experiences and find out why the volunteer hates committees. As you listen, identify the reservations, concerns, and expectations that define the decision frame.  Then use their key framing words for your recruiting pitch.  For example, after listening for 80%, your 20% presentation could be something like this:

“You’d be perfect. We don’t believe in committees either. We put together self-directed, empowered teams of high-capacity leaders just like you.  At the first meeting we define the scope, budget and schedule of the project and then we turn you loose to get it done. And we really don’t meet very often. We use high-tech methods of communication and our meetings are short, too the point, and efficient. How about it?”

Your chances at “Yes” have just logarithmicly increased!

Why did the volunteer say “YES!”?

Because you framed your presentation according to the volunteer’s decision framing issues:  short meetings, high-capacity team members, a well defined scope of the event, self-directed team, empowerment, and high-tech communication methods.

When we frame our presentation, we not only are able to focus our presentation to the volunteer, but we also weed out high-maintenance volunteers for our important teams, committees and boards. The 80/20 rule helps us to embrace Steven Covey’s communication principle:  “Seek to understand before you seek to be understood.”

Recruiting doesn’t have to be daunting.  Jonathan and I have found that many volunteers have learned the joy of recruiting by using the principles in The New Breed.  Use the linked article as a training tool with your recruiters:  The Seven Deadly Sins of Recruiting.

If you are interested in having Jonathan and/or me help you learn and practice framing your recruiting pitch, contact us at VolunteerPower.com.  You will also learn and practice the following leadership tools:

  • The dating method of recruiting
  • Duct tape
  • The echo
  • A button
  • The empty chairNew-Breed-WEB-SM


This entry was posted in Recruiting, The New Breed of Volunteer. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Turn a “No” Into a “Yes”

  1. Thomas, seems we share some similar views on how to engage the passion of volunteers . . . would love to see how we could synergize in the future.

    I am confident you have heard of my work with the book “Engaging the Head, Heart and Hands of a Volunteer.” I value when I encounter other leaders who profess the virtue of reaching in and touching the heart of those who desire to serve. When we ask more, listen more, and learn more, all while talking and pitching less, only then do we “Discover” what stirs in the heart that compels others to serve.

    The book refers to this as “Otherliness” in action.

    Nice stuff!

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      I think having a rule for yourself like that is a good idea, esepically for people who tend to jump into things too quickly and regret it later. Sometimes, slowing things down can be really, really good.

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