“Whether you think you can or think you can’t- you’re right”. Henry Ford
Were you watching the Olympics and Paralympics? I’ve been in awe of the skills, dedication and sheer grit of the athletes competing. The world was looking forward to seeing Simone Biles, the USA gymnast, add to her cabinet of gold medals. But something went awry. She recognised that her mindset was all wrong and she got the ‘twisties’ – meaning that she lost the ability to sense where she was at in mid-air. Most of her moves are terrifyingly difficult and gravity defying, so losing control as she spun through the air could have meant serious injury. Her mindset was all wrong, so she withdrew from the team competition. Instead she returned for her least favourite section, the vault. With the pressure of expectation removed, she landed the vault with the simplest move that she hadn’t done since she was 12 years old. She knew she could do it and won an unexpected bronze medal.
The mindset for success has to be right. It’s also one of the key ingredients for partnership prospecting. There are three things you need to build the right mindset.
Genuine curiosity about the corporate partner’s needs, priorities and pain points will ensure that the partnership is a win-win for everyone. It also stops you from putting forward a ‘case for support’ that is one-sided and only outlines your organisation’s needs. The community team at Kmart reject a lot of unsolicited approaches because they are one-dimensional and don’t demonstrate a genuine interest in getting to know what matters to them. You might have the sharpest brochure or slickest video, but you’ve wasted the investment if you haven’t met your corporate partner’s needs. It’s like offering a vegan a ticket to the meat raffle. Be curious, ask questions and invite them to open up.
Purpose is the big WHY. If you can answer these why questions around partnerships, then you are onto a winner. Why does your organisation need partnerships – not including money? Your organisation’s need for cash is not a purpose. Think about what only a corporate partner can deliver that other forms of fundraising can’t. Why does your organisation exist and what is its future vision?? Consider this NFP’s mission statement: “Transforming people’s lives for generations to come through creating infinite value”. How does that inspire a corporate audience or even describe what it actually does? Compare it with “end cervical cancer by 2030” or “educate 1 million girls”. Why do you do what you do? What is it about this job that lights a fire in you so that you can do your very best? It’s hard to create the mindset for partnership success when the purpose is not clear. It’s equally difficult to tell whether you’re making progress.
Success in partnership prospecting requires you to have a deep belief in yourself and your skills but also in your organisation. Belief enables you to inspire and persuade a corporate partner to join you on the journey. It also enables you to overcome the inevitable knock backs you will get whilst prospecting. If you believe you have a good offering and can help a business to achieve its ambitions, then it will change your mindset going into a meeting. Desperation is a turn-off for corporate prospects.
Simone Biles came to the Olympics with a lot of pressure to win. But her self-belief didn’t match the sky-high ambitions of her team, her country and her fans. The experience of that first day and the stresses of the previous year undermined her confidence. She didn’t believe she could win without getting seriously injured. Instead she changed her dismount to one that she knew she could nail. She even did it with a smile on her face.
The right mindset is vital for prospecting. Each of these three elements could increase your chances of success. Corporates want and need to make a positive difference to the communities in which they operate. Are you in the right mindset to secure these valuable partnerships for your cause?