What Can We Learn From Salesforce.com

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I recently downloaded a free trial version of Salesforce.com’s CRM application and I was pleasantly surprised by the first-rate interaction from the company. And I thought to myself, what if nonprofits could follow up with donors the same way Salesforce.com followed up with a sales lead?

I downloaded the mid-sized version of the software. At $65/month, my yearly value to the company is less than $800 so I’m not exactly a big spender to a company that does over $3 billion in revenue a year.  But within an hour of downloading the trial version, Mitch from Saleforce called me and left me a message. Since I wasn’t available to take the call at the moment, I received an email moments after the voice mail message asking if I had a few minutes to talk.

I decided to give Mitch a few minutes of my time (after all, his email and voicemail message were so friendly wanting to know if I had any questions about the product). When we did connect via phone later that afternoon, the first few words out of Mitch’s mouth were “When was the last time you went flyfishing?” (If you’ve been to our website and read my bio, you will know I love flyfishing. )

The day before my free trial ended, I received a call and an email again from Mitch reminding me that my trial was about to end.

Now, I believe if Mitch ever wanted to switch careers, he’d make one heck of a fundraiser. Here’s what he did:

  1. Made me feel important to his company by immediately contacting me after my free download.
  2. Did his research before calling me. Checked out our website and read my bio.
  3. Put me at ease immediately over the phone and quickly built a relationship with me by asking me about one of my passions.
  4. Followed up again when there was a sense of urgency – free trial about to expire.

Perhaps a stellar sales team is what made Saleforce.com a multi-billion dollar company. But shouldn’t our process to welcome new donors to our nonprofit organization be the same? How are you making your new donors feel they are important to your organization? I challenge you to call your new donors (of all sizes) within a day of their first gift.

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