As people remembered Coach Dean Smith last week, Michael Jordan came in to discussions as one of Coach Smith’s success stories. So I began thinking about some principles of Michael Jordan that often came up in leadership courses or sales training. The two that hit home, was that he practiced his craft religiously and that he was a great collaborator.

Many would agree that Michael Jordan is one of the greatest athletes of our time, and arguably of all time. Sportscasters would define him as a natural talent, and Michael Jordan would quickly correct them and explain how he had to work everyday to be the best, and if he couldn’t he stepped aside (ref: his brief baseball career). In his words, “My practice habits were great”. Robin Sharma in her article, Practice Like Jordan, talks about the correlation between practice habits and success.

Another part of Jordan’s success was his ability to rally his teammates. He pushed his teammates to workout with him before practice and coach each other on techniques. In his Inc.com article, How to Become a Sales Expert, AJ Agrawal discusses how Jordan was able to improve and polish his techniques by having to articulate them to others, along with willingness to listen to others feedback.

What does Jordan’s practice habits and collaboration have to do with sales and fundraising? Simple, as a professional, you need to practice and invite feedback before you are in the game. That means, (begin eye roll now) role-play! ACT out potential donor situations and presentations in a controlled environment. This is where salespeople and fundraisers are identical. They believe that they can hear a story once and deliver it with resounding impact to every donor. Or they can review an outline and deliver a presentation with confidence and value just like their CDO who has been doing it for 7 or 8 years.

Start with gathering wisdom from those that have had success in your organization. Get their best questions, their best stories like I suggested in the Toolbox post. Then practice them with your team. One-on-one or as part of a staff meeting. Drive your teammates like Jordan did.

Success comes with practice. Polish comes with blunt feedback to sand out the rough edges. If you are a one-person shop, use staff members, your Executive Director, or volunteers to help you practice. If you are a part of a team, demand it as a part of your regular staff meetings. Be as professional as those you ask money from.

Photo courtesy of www.itwasalladream.org

Fundraisers, it’s time to ACT!
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