January 8, 2007

5 Key Steps to Prospect Relationship Management

I've seen references to the 5 key steps to Prospect Relationship Management published by Canoe Money. These were written from a business perspective. In fundraising, Prospect Relationship Management is generally used synonymously with Moves Management or PM&T. This methodology is a better fit with what I would call "Suspect Relationship Management."

Although often overlooked, these first interactions with an organization can set the tone for the life of the relationship. I took the 5 steps from the article and commented on them from a fundraising analytics perspective.

1. Knowing
Use profiling technologies to analyze the predominant segments in your database. By knowing the various ways individuals become donors or are motivated to give, you will be better equipped for the entire relationship.

2. Follow Up
Be aware of all touch points your prospects have with your organizations. Are they coming to events, sports, fine arts, or lecture series? Have they participated in alumni activities or reunions? Are their children applicants for admissions? Have they been patients recently? All of these are opportunities for follow-up. And, they contribute to the movement through the pipeline.

3. Communication
The take-away for fundraising is to customize earlier in the process. Even when prospects are unknown to you (anonymous records in your database) can you be managing the relationship? With analytics, you can segment these populations to provide custom messaging and cultivation.

4. Tracking
As with all scorecarding and dashboard methodologies, determining metrics that matter happens over time. As you track different events, activities, and strategies, always measure against the impact on increased production. Tracking also enables stronger modeling for future segmentation and prioritization.

5. Refining
Be willing to change your benchmarks. Don't let the metrics exist for their own sake. The purpose is to increase gift production and manage infrastructure efficiency.

Managing that process is the art of Prospect Relationship Management ("PRM"), the lesser-known cousin of CRM and a critical contributor to the business development process. When executed effectively, prospect relationship management achieves two important goals. First, it shortens the selling cycle, creating a positive financial impact in the short term. Second, it lengthens the life of the customer for your business - and that creates a positive financial impact in the long term.

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