Volunteering Is a Great Way for Salespeople to Give Back—While Sharpening Their...

Volunteering Is a Great Way for Salespeople to Give Back—While Sharpening Their Sales Skills at the Same Time

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I believe in volunteering. Not only is volunteering good for the nonprofit organization, but it is also good for the volunteer. And if you’re involved in sales, volunteering is another way to help you with your selling.

It’s important to recognize, though, that not all nonprofit organizations are worth your time. Here are my recommendations for salespeople who want to volunteer and also get positive sales results.

Find an appropriate cause

There are many worthy nonprofits, so you have to be strategic about the ones you choose to devote your free time to. Among the many worthy nonprofits only consider the ones in which your prospects and customers are likely to belong to or support.

Your industry trade association is an especially important group to consider. Not only will you meet prospects, but you also will have the opportunity to learn about what’s new in your industry. You may be able to demonstrate your expertise to people in the association and earn referrals to new customers; you may also create strategic alliances with suppliers who belong to the trade association as well.

Whatever nonprofit you get involved in, make sure you support the cause and you are interested in it. To get the “selling benefits,” it’s not enough to join an organization—you have to participate. And you will be more likely to participate when you support the cause.

RELATED: If You Work in a Nonprofit, Guess What? You’re in Sales

Look for tasks to do that will enhance your sales performance

It’s not enough to just pay your dues and expect to get selling benefits. You must get involved. Pick activities that help your selling.

In sales you are always prospecting. Some organizations are looking to be introduced to prospective donors or members. Offer to help out by making prospecting telephone calls. These calls are a great opportunity for you to meet prospects on an informal basis and to build a rapport.

Join the membership committee if the organization has one. That way you have a good reason to call prospects and encourage them to join the group. You also can be at meetings to greet and get to know them.

Make sure it’s a credible organization

You don’t want to join an organization whose credibility would detract from your credibility. You can check a nonprofit’s performance rating with Charity Navigator. You also don’t want to be associated with any organization that is fiscally irresponsible.

The organization’s staff should be professional. Leaders who are professional don’t assume an overly familiar relationship with people they have just met, which can make people feel uncomfortable. A credible organization has paid staff who run the organization like a business; this shows there are work processes in place.

I know of one organization with an executive director who consistently misplaces documents. If people see this director’s name on caller ID they don’t pick up the phone; they are also less likely to donate. This director tells anyone who will listen how busy and crazy things are. She thinks this shows how key she is to the organization—instead, most people think she’s disorganized and incompetent. They think less of an organization that will hire such an incompetent professional. The reputation of anyone associated with this organization is at stake.

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