In a stereotypical sense, a salesperson is someone whose main goal is to sell you a product or service, get your money, and make you into a customer. As a nonprofit, it’s different. Your main goal is to make social change, generate donations, and make your donors into allies in your purposeful journey. But just because the goals are different, doesn’t mean that a nonprofit isn’t selling anything, or shouldn’t think of themselves as salespeople.
That stereotypical definition of a salesperson often gets a negative connotation. Salespeople are associated with dishonesty and greed; they’re out to get your money and they don’t care how they do it. This association is what scares a lot of nonprofits away from being sellers. The last thing they want is to be perceived as dishonest or money-hungry. But this stereotype is just that: a stereotype.
Salespeople are not inherently bad. Like with anything, there are bad salespeople and there are good salespeople. The good ones are honest and transparent about what they are selling. They make sales that benefit not only themselves but their customers, too. Nonprofits are no different. The only difference is in what you are selling.
What are you selling, and why should people buy it?
As a nonprofit, you rely on donations. Whether these donations are in the form of money, time, or talent, they are immensely important to fueling your goals. And you cannot generate these donations if you don’t sell yourself.
Selling yourself is selling your purpose. You’re selling the opportunity for someone to become a part of your purpose, to make a difference, and to use their wealth, time, or talent for something that is bigger than themselves. Really, you’re selling something that everyone desires to have.
How do you sell purpose?
Your purpose is your story, and being a salesperson is the same as being a storyteller. When you tell your story, you’re creating empathy, showing off your passion, and inspiring others. If your story resonates with someone, they will want to be a part of it. People have the desire to make an impact, and they can do that by helping you make yours. Clara puts it like this:
Sales is not a one-way street. It does not pursue a benefit for only one of the parties involved. Sales is the white canvas where our purpose, passion, and presence are the brushes to create a vibrant, colorful, inspiring piece of art filled with meaning, emotions, empathy, and answers. – Clara Carrier, Founder of BTC
When you pursue donors, you have to look at it like a human interaction, not a monetary transaction. Donors are more than their donations, they want to be a part of your story, your purpose, and your impact. So let them! Then, even though you are selling, it won’t feel like it. It will feel like a collaboration. It will feel like you are making a change. And it will feel like that because that’s exactly what you’ll be doing.
To hear Clara, founder of BTC, dive deeper into this topic, check out her appearance on the Sales Babble podcast.
When you have a clear purpose and hold it at the heart of everything you do, people will respond to you and want to share in your impact. Download our free assessment tool to help discover your purpose and start sharing it with others.