By Keith Center
In order to sell to Non-Profits, State & Local Government and Education you need to follow the money. By that I mean what sources of funding align with their needs. And it should be their needs that you have solutions for.
As Dr. Stephen Covey stated “Start with the end in mind.” An as a VAR, the end for you is to sell what you have, and establish a buying pattern from your company that will go on for years to come. That means that they know you, like you, and trust you. Finding them money to buy what you have to sell is a big step in that direction.
Frank Bettger summed it up with this statement: “This selling process boils down to just two things. Find out what a man needs and wants, then show him how to get it, and he will move heaven and earth to do what you want.” “How I Raised Myself From Failure to Success in Selling.” Frank Bettger
As an example, say you’re selling PC labs to k-12. There are several sources of funding: Government grants, corporations and foundations.
Government Grants: Let’s start with grants from Federal sources. You need to do a search on http://www.grants.gov to find the types of grants that support the solutions that you provide, in this case computer labs to k-12. Narrow down your focus until you find just a few that match what you sell.
The first searches can be overwhelming and waste a lot of time. As a short cut, you can subscribe to The Grant Advisor http://www.grantadvisor.net which provides both hard copy and online updates for grants. The Grant Advisor has a 30 day trial subscription that should provide plenty of time to do your initial investigation as to how potential funding sources align with what you sell… services, hardware, software, etc. Here’s the link for the trial subscription http://www.grantadvisor.net/trial.shtml
Don’t forget that there are grants for personal development for teachers. If you can help them to get some funding for teachers, the school or university will love you for it. With education, you have to build both sides of the house. By that I mean develop relationships with both the administrative and academic sides of the institution.
In a later artilce, I’ll explain more about proven ideas that will get you results and improve the profitability of your solutions.
Foundations: There is more to finding funding than Government Grants. There are many foundations out there that still have money and are open to proposals that align with their mission. So how do you find them?
There are two basic tools, the Foundation Grants Index, ISBN 0-87954-701-4 and The Foundation Directory, ISBN 0-87954-705-7. These are now available on-line. I suggest that you check with a major library to see if they have these data bases available. I have used the Hamilton County Library in downtown Cincinnati many times. They even run classes on grant writing and other related topics. So check with your library to find out what they offer. If they don’t have these databases, ask where you can access them.
First Step: Look up the categories in the Foundation Grants Index, and then the state where your prospect is. You are looking for grants that have been awarded by foundations to organizations like your prospect and that align with what you are selling.
Second Step: Once you have researched a few examples, then go to The Foundation Directory. That is where you will find the contact information, what are the requirements for getting funded, the typical size of an award, the financial health of the foundation, etc.
Third Step: Armed with the examples or prior funding and the contact information for the foundation, you are ready for the third step. And that is to get an example of a successful proposal from an awardee.
Most people in the government, education and non-profit arena are open with information like this. You can pick up the phone and call them, or perhaps it would be better for your to set up a call between your prospect and them. Make sure that you are also in the room with your prospect.
Ask the awardees about how they went about it, the key words that they used, to what do they attribute their success and finally ask them for a copy of their grant submission so you can use it as a template. This is very important as it will provide you and your prospect with a roadmap to success.
Let’s wrap up finding funding with our third area of funding, corporations.
Corporations: Many corporations have their own philanthropic organization that acts semi independently of the corporation.
You can use similar techniques as described in Foundations to find out who gets funded.
In addition, employee contributions to a non-profit, a school, etc. are matched by the organization. For example, one company that I worked for had a 1:1 match for cash, and a 1:5 match for equipment. That’s a lot of money that can be gained just by organizing alumni who work for a large employer.
This should help you to find funding for government, education and other non-profits. Keep working the system and constantly looking for funding sources for your clients, especially money that will pay for what you are selling.
In the next article, we will deal with the front end of the process, strategic IT planning.