August 7, 2011

Peer to Peer Fundraising: Part 4 "Common Road Blocks"

Road blocks are really just excuses in disguise. When some one wants to evade a question there are may ways to avoid the financial ask. It's the old "I can't hear you because I'm going through a tunnel" tactic. It's tough, I won't deny it; overcoming peoples objections to taking money from their wallet and handing it over to you is the ultimate test in persuasion. To clear the roadblock and not get detoured I am going to give you the most common objections, as well as mistakes and misconceptions, with possible ways to persuade the potential political investor that maybe they just don't have any objections at all. Knowing what makes up the HBA's political synergy (described in Part 2 from this series) can really help you to engage the prospective PAC investor. Understanding possible responses to objections may not get you a "yes" but if you don't engage at all the answer will always be "no."

Part 4 "Common Road Blocks"

There really is only one mistake when asking for PAC investments; you need  to understand when asking for the investment do not preach. You may have all this new or refreshed information about political synergy but who you are speaking with (not to) most likely doesn't. It's very easy for those in the "absolute know" to become frustrated that others don't invest already. No one likes being lectured and people will have a tendency to shut down your words in their mind and regard your attempt as "wasting your time." 

Don't get on your soap box and preach just because you understand the message. By utilizing the information you know, you are able to teach the potential investor the reasons why and then you can handle the objections in an easier way. Sales 101 clearly states "ask open ended question." Ask them questions about political synergy such as "how do you think the HBA protects the building industry?" By engaging them in conversation they will feel that you are not just looking for money; you are helping them understand.

Don't Preach, Teach!

"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn" a quote from Benjamin Franklin that rings true in any time. 

Let’s go over two of the most common objections you will be given. We are all sales professionals, whether it's selling homes or selling products and services. The reason you receive a "no" is because you didn't supply a "need" or a reason to commit. 

“Low on Funds, No Business!”

Low on funds, particularly in today's economic climate, is a valid concern. When you take an investment dollar amount, let's call it $100, you can't just say $100 dollars. That is looked at as a whole. Break it down into manageable dollar amounts such as $1.93 per week. $100.00 divided by 52 weeks is $1.93. A large cup of coffee is $2.75. An iTunes download is .99 cents. A 16 ounce bottle of water is $1.50.

In other words, you need to demonstrate how low the asking investment cost truly is in the (pardon the over used phrase) grand scheme of things.
No business is an easier road block to navigate. No business is the primary reason to invest in the PAC. HBAs are fighting everyday, on everyone's behalf, to bring relief to the home building industry. If you plan on being in business in a year, and beyond, a continued yearly investment helps to insure that you will have the opportunity to stay in business. 

"Conservatives v Liberals, Republican v Democrats"

"I don't contribute to PACs. They tend to contribute to candidates I don't support because I oppose them on issues that are unrelated to the housing industry. My personal contributions are candidate specific." 

How's that for a "NO?"  The process within political synergy is to identify legislators or candidates that support housing as well as political leaders that are in prominent "seats of persuasion." I am not saying to ignore each potential investor's political views. I'm explaining that being employed is better than being an R or a  D. I have my own political views, and while it feels great to stand on my moral high ground, it feels better to be employed and providing for my family. The housing industry doesn't support one party or another. They support the candidates who are for our industry's recovery and stability. If the potential investor truly earns a living for home building teaching them about the HBA political synergy will demonstrate that HBA staff is doing a fantastic job identifying who support us and who are not interested in helping the home building industry. When you invest you invest for a return. What better return than pro housing legislation which in turn helps you to keep earning?

Now let's talk about BUILD-PAC and the objections, or misconceptions, for investing nationally. Understand that the two previous objections are given on all levels of PAC as well but now we have the objection to contributing federally. 

"Which PAC is more important; local & state or NAHB's?"

Builders are most directly affected by local and state governments. Federal politics affect builders all over the country. The United States Congress is the only government entity that has the power to help our industry right now. Contrary to Tip O'Neill's popular belief not all politics are local. We live in a new world, "global housing" economy. A balance has to be achieved when investing in PACs, within a particular state and NAHB. When people invest they generally invest dollars in multiple areas. The same holds true for our industry's PACs. The available dollar is a lot smaller today and members will want to feel that their investment is helping. Demonstrate examples of  national victories as well as state victories and what affect it has on homes being built, in turn, products and services being sold.

One last road block that has nothing to do with asking for a dollar investment is asking other members to invest time, volunteering within the political synergy.

"Time is short, I can't volunteer"

I only have one answer for that statement and it is a bit harsh but it is reality. If you aren't working you'll have all the time you'll need. Don't rely on others to "handle it."  Become a part of the association that takes positive action which benefits everyone's livelihoods.

Next week we will discuss the two types of fundraisers and which style is best. We will also take a look at the two types of members we ask to invest, and no, I'm not talking about builders and associates. 

Submitted by: Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP
2011 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chair

NOTE: This article is based on a section from The NAHB Associates presentation "Peer to Peer Fundraising." This type of fundraising will work on all of your HBA events or fundraising initiatives you may have; you just have the supply the core reason for the fundraiser and demonstrate a value to the potential investor. 


Monica Sommerfeldt Lewis said...

Our biggest potential is in involving more members in PAC and not in how much money we can get from any one member. While $100 is not much on a daily basis, any investment builds the POWER number. While dollars speak volumes, politicians NEED voters. A PAC that represents the investments of over 150,000 potential voters has more power than a PAC representing only 2000 voters. Find out how to help build a PAC that Congress can't ignore.

Association Maximization said...

Monica, while I agree with you that we need to engage 150,000 plus members with political investing, the process has to start somewhere. Teaching people how to ask, how to engage those road blocks and then securing an investment is step number one. The overall goal of totality is not unreasonable, to start moving our numbers from less than 2% upwards is the absolute first step on that road to totality.

Monica Sommerfeldt Lewis said...

I agree - We need people who will carry the message and encourage members to participate. But I do think we have to remember that one of the simplest asks to remind them they joined the Association for the good of their business and to support the industry they make money in. There is no better way to support the building industry than to create a large voting block that Congress can not ignore.