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Getting Buy-In For a New Software Tool

Calculating and communicating the return on investment for a large software purchase is no easy task. This episode explores some useful marketing and selling strategies that can be applied to internal purchasing decisions.

Lori Finch, Director for Nonprofit Sales and Sales Enablement | Foundant Technologies

Lori is a dynamic and creative executive, strategist, and builder with an entrepreneurial spirit and skilled in sales, coaching, partner development, relationship/account management, and communications View her LinkedIn here



Lori Finch 00:00:00:07

As long as you’re really good with talking to people and engaging and you’re passionate about the mission. You’re a salesperson for the organization and you’re a marketer for the organization, and you should feel really proud about the work you do and your communities.

Logan Colegrove 00:00:16:14

Welcome to Connected Philanthropy. In today’s episode, we sit down with Laurie Finch to talk about how to get buy in on a new software solution. Laurie works here at Foundant as our director of nonprofit Sales and Sales Enablement, and some of the topics she covers are the role that software plays in philanthropy, how to communicate the value of software with your boss, and some general marketing and selling advice.

Logan Colegrove 00:00:43:07

So without further ado, here’s Laurie.

Lori Finch 00:00:47:12

I like to say that my career in working with nonprofits or for nonprofits actually started when I was a little kid. I grew up, I say, under the table listening to meetings, board meetings, and my mom was was just a great participating in. She was like career volunteer. And I really admired what she did and how she gave back to the community through connections, a symbol upon the San Diego Foundation.

Lori Finch 00:01:17:05

I knew nothing about community foundations and just got myself a job working with nonprofits. It was perfect for me because while I love nonprofits, I didn’t really I wasn’t like, I need to work for arts, organization or environment. And so when I was there, I was actually responsible for working with all types of nonprofits. So as I said, if you called the foundation and you were a nonprofit, you got me for six years.

Lori Finch 00:01:45:24

And then we got transferred back to Washington, D.C., which is where I got to college. I ended up working for GuideStar, which is now candid working again with community foundations, but helping them develop a program for communities to engage nonprofits and then met a technology company called CAMBIA. I really got intrigued by how technology could change the landscape of fundraising and then transitioned to another digital fundraising, one who who offered sort of a breadth of different ways to engage.

Lori Finch 00:02:21:16

So peer to peer events, etcetera I Donate and then left and really kind of explored what I want to do. And I found my way to compound it, which for me was an amazing finds because Foundant work spoke with community foundations and the profits a bigger footprint into the technology that nonprofits need. I mean, I can’t tell you how many I know who still manage things in spreadsheets and sort of piecemeal solutions together.

Lori Finch 00:02:56:09

So this was really kind of a wonderful opportunity for me.

Logan Colegrove 00:03:02:06

Yeah, that’s fantastic. That’s kind of the theme of this discussion is the importance of software and how to communicate and get buy in for a new software solution. I kind of want to start. What do you think the role of software is in philanthropy?

Lori Finch 00:03:20:03

I like to say, you know, software solutions are really the backbone of philanthropy, and it is the vehicle in which organizations and nonprofits, foundations, whatever, can do more good. It is a way to make organizations more efficient and more effective in what they do. There is so much focus on ensuring donors dollars go to doing the work of the community, and the only way that works is if there’s technology to help support it.

Lori Finch 00:03:54:23

Humans could do it, but it takes a really, really long time. From that perspective, it’s super important not to mention that we’re all reliant on the data that you can sort of extrapolate from the systems and and really to make good decisions on where to invest your time and energy and your funds and your community. Or, you know, that’s from a grant application perspective, like how or when you’re supposed to sort through all these pieces of paper and sort of make things work and then being able to communicate out the impact that organizations are having.

Lori Finch 00:04:29:25

So it is essential in various different ways and various different types of technology to have have it to be able to do the work as an organization.

Logan Colegrove 00:04:41:03

I can’t even imagine a time where people were managing every single thing that needed to be done in a community foundation or a nonprofit with a spreadsheet. Let alone handwritten letters and filing cabinets. How do you communicate the value of software and really get buy in? How do you talk to your boss about it when it’s like, we’ve done this the same way for so many years?

Logan Colegrove 00:05:05:15

How do you overcome some of those common objections?

Lori Finch 00:05:08:19

I mean, nonprofits and boards are very, very cost conscious. Again, that’s getting the dollars into the community or, you know, going towards helping others. Traditionally been an underinvestment in sort of that capacity building or those resources for for people to automate and do things with and leverage technology. That’s because we don’t value our time. There’s not a value on someone’s time to do it.

Lori Finch 00:05:39:15

Therefore, there’s a lot of emphasis on sort of the cost and not really the benefit of leveraging technology, and that is from a value perspective. I find it really is helpful if you can talk about the return on investment and really appeal to that. So how much time will we say, how many hours can we put into the mission and how much risk you can avoid?

Lori Finch 00:06:00:27

And that one is actually a real key one for me, because this level of standard to which you have to steward donor dollars and account for them for the IRS to maintain your tax status like you need a system to be able to support that. And and the risk of not doing that, risk your status as a nonprofit.

Lori Finch 00:06:24:13

And and that’s kind of incredible. So from a communicating value, I think probably it’s time saves and then that time put into mission and no one can sort of argue with that because that’s really what they want in the ends.

Logan Colegrove 00:06:44:05

Yeah, absolutely. I’m sure you’ve had those types of conversations so many times throughout your career. Are there reoccurring things that you hear in opposition to purchasing a software solution?

Lori Finch 00:06:58:05

Yes. From an internal perspective, some of the s the most or probably the most common one is sort of being risk adverse. So they have something that works. Whether or not it works well or not is sort of remains to be seen. But the the risk of choosing something and failing so that everyone seems to have a I did this and or we had this there’s like this like battle battlefield stories of like bad investments or you know things that didn’t work.

Lori Finch 00:07:32:14

And and technology has come a long way. And certainly there is a risk to changing systems. And that’s really kind of the biggest hurdle.

Logan Colegrove 00:07:41:13

Yeah, the risks of change are so apparent to people, but maybe some of the risks of, say, burn out or inefficiencies with your current process are underplayed. Is there any sort of way to actually calculate ROI on time saved or even like consider burnout in your organization? Or is that just something that you kind of need to gauge on your own as a leader?

Lori Finch 00:08:07:00

That’s a great question, and I it’s fairly easy to quantify how much time you think you’ll you’ll save. I mean, that we have case studies internally to be able to provide them. But that burnout factor is is huge. And every time I read about the nonprofit sector, I mean, you see like they’re being asked to do, people are being asked to do more and more with less.

Lori Finch 00:08:31:19

And burnout is huge. And we do hear that like, hey, I’m not going to be able to do this anymore. And it’s so for us, it’s a little bit of okay, like I haven’t seen a study on it, but probably it would be good to look at like how much of the turnover or people leaving jobs is related to that because that is that’s probably the biggest risk nonprofits have, more so than changing technology is the risk of losing people who have been there and have done that and are sort of holding everything together with systems that aren’t really systems in place.

Logan Colegrove 00:09:07:27

I also have such respect for the founded sales team because I don’t know a lot of places that when they hear a pain point and they know that this solution that they’re trying to sell, if it doesn’t solve that pain point, they’ll be just really upfront like, Oh, our software doesn’t do that. It seems like the culture it found into is very committed to making sure it’s the right fit before committing to anything because we would rather make sure the clients are guaranteed to be successful rather than finding that out down the line and wasting time and money along the way.

Logan Colegrove 00:09:45:14

So that’s some kind of cool about our sales process.

Lori Finch 00:09:48:11

Yes, And I just yesterday I was on a call with an organization that is looking at one of our solutions. And and I had done my research and it was like, I just want to be clear upfront, like based on what solutions you tell me and what we have, we can solve a lot. But these two things we don’t do currently.

Lori Finch 00:10:09:08

And it was so I mean, I was like, So if we move forward, we wanted to be very transparent. And I think that’s really what you’re saying is it’s like we’re very much looking for and we want to be a partner for the long run and that’s really important to us. And so making sure that we’re setting expectations throughout the process is important.

Lori Finch 00:10:30:28

And I would say if you’re looking at solutions, you should definitely look for that. So, you know, if price if price isn’t going to work out, I hate to lose organizations because of price, but that is a factor, you know, being very upfront and honest and open. And we have a very transparent system. It’s important and I would look to that when you’re looking at technology.

Logan Colegrove 00:10:52:11

Yeah, and it’s funny, I heard you mentioned long term. I think that’s also kind of baked into these software purchasing decisions for nonprofits is sometimes you’re making a decision on a system that you want to be with the organization for the next 20 years potentially. So thinking about things like what direction is the organization headed, What’s their track record of adapting to the needs of the sector?

Logan Colegrove 00:11:22:28

Are there any other sort of like long term considerations that you think people making a purchasing decision should be thinking of?

Lori Finch 00:11:31:24

I mean I think one of the things I really like about Foundant is this we’re committed to the philanthropic sector, so we’re actually seeing things from the funders perspective, community foundations and nonprofits. And so we’re kind of understanding in aggregate what are the trends that are going on and we can kind of adopt and build solutions to to help do that.

Logan Colegrove 00:11:53:08

Yeah, that’s well said, kind of considering all the sides of it. But I also have been here to just ask you kind of broadly about your marketing and selling skills. It seems like you’ve kind of had that skill set in all your positions, even though I think a lot of people might be able to relate to this. It’s like I didn’t sign up to be marketing or selling something in this role that I’m in, in the philanthropic sector where, but it’s kind of expected that you’re out there selling your program or marketing, even if it’s just on social media.

Logan Colegrove 00:12:32:15

Do you have any sort of general advice or resources on how to grow your skills in these areas?

Lori Finch 00:12:39:25

That’s a great question. I would say that I’m an ex and I’m an accidental I was an accidental development person and I was a fundraiser and an accidental salesperson. And I think so many people are nonprofit professionals. I mean, I would say, like everyone who works for a nonprofit is actually the development person, even if it’s not in their job descriptions.

Lori Finch 00:13:04:27

And every single impression that you make with whether it’s your the clients of your organizations or donors or potential donors, is a chance to build a relationship in that relationship. I can bring more funds to your organization. So as long as you’re really good with talking to people and engaging and you’re passionate about the mission, you’re a salesperson for the organization and you’re a marketer for the organization, and you should feel really proud about the work you do and the communities as far as resources for me.

Lori Finch 00:13:41:10

There’s an organization called Nonprofit Learning Lab. They have some great in-person virtual courses or either free or nearly free, and I think that’s a great place to start to kind of understand. There’s a ton of resources online as well. For me, personally, when I was trying to learn about fundraising, I did in Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy Fundraising School program, they have a certificate in fundraising management.

Lori Finch 00:14:08:29

And and that was huge. Just everything from all the different ways people can support an organization. So sort of thinking of it as revenue to your organization. So your annual find events and all of the different strategies and tactics for that. It was nice because it was high level and yet you also learned a lot about the different ways they do that.

Lori Finch 00:14:32:12

But I also just think it’s showing up authentically and talking about what you love about your organization and that can make you the most valuable salesperson or marketer for your organization. Because assuming you like what you do and you talk about it, that’s really all it is from a sales perspective is connecting with people People give because they support people.

Lori Finch 00:14:56:29

And so it’s hard to think about. I know a lot of people don’t want that title. There’s connotations to doing development or doing sales and and yet I think it’s the job of everyone in our organization to do that.

Logan Colegrove 00:15:10:13

Well, thank you for sharing those resources. Hopefully they’re still around. I’ll link those in the show notes so people can check them out on their own. Also, I will link this quarter. We have webinars, education, webinars on Communicating for Good. And Laura, you actually teamed up with Erica to be on that educational webinar as well as a follow up Q&A session.

Logan Colegrove 00:15:36:18

How did that go?

Lori Finch 00:15:38:19

Oh, I just loved Erica’s session on Communicating Good. It was a really it was really fun. It was really eye opening, I think, from the perspective of how communication styles can influence how people consume information in your organization and and how you can recognize other people’s communication styles in your organization or outside of it and sort of adapt or adopt different techniques to just make sure that you’re communicating effectively with them.

Lori Finch 00:16:12:22

So as she says and we talked a little bit about it, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. So using the right words, she had a tool called Word of Fire to for using new words. It was just really it was fun, entertaining. She’s also highly entertaining and very well-spoken. So it was fun to participate in a webinar and Q&A session with her.

Logan Colegrove 00:16:39:13

Yeah, she’s just a master communicator. I really liked the Q&A to. Were there any key takeaways from that for you?

Lori Finch 00:16:48:14

I think it really just highlighted she talked there were a lot of questions in the Q&A around how do you communicate to peers, how do you communicate, how do you communicate with people or donors from the outside and sort of how do you do that when maybe you’re not in a position of power? And so sort of understanding how that impacts how you communicate?

Lori Finch 00:17:13:14

And she and then also the mediums in which you did it as well. So whether it be email or report or a meeting, how you did that. Erica really did a great job about it, too. Just saying that that it doesn’t matter per se who you’re communicating with. You can be more efficient or effective if you understand their style.

Lori Finch 00:17:35:00

And she talks about the four different styles. So talking to people who are a process, people in a way that they can understand, people who are more relational, making sure you ask them questions about maybe how their weekend was or how they’re feeling, and just using those ways to build rapport and trust and then be able to communicate better.

Lori Finch 00:17:57:04

So I think what she was saying is it doesn’t have to be tricky. It’s just that you it’s important to sort of recognize how others might hear or learn the information that you’re sharing.

Logan Colegrove 00:18:10:28

And how relevant to what we’ve been talking about getting by and on a software solution, thinking about the position of power dynamic, that’s definitely important and communication style. How do you broach this big scary topic in a way that will be heard by people in a positive way, by your boss or the board? Yeah, the communication aspect I think is really important there.

Lori Finch 00:18:37:00

So yes, I think that that’s that’s a great point and I think it doesn’t have to be hard, but you really do need to think about what what you say and what you’re saying and and how you’re involving people in the process and that sort of she or she just did a wonderful she was really fun to I encourage people to listen to the webinar and and use the tool where you can identify your own personal style.

Lori Finch 00:19:04:22

And if you manage a team or work with a team, especially if you’re doing any of that, like norms around teams because you have new projects like taking a look at your communication style, it can be a super fun activity for you to recognize and play off of them and then be able to anticipate how others might respond to what you’re saying.

Logan Colegrove 00:19:28:02

Yeah, that’s fantastic. We’ll link all of those resources in the show notes. I almost wonder if I should make a podcast version of that recorded webinar because it just sounds so valuable. I definitely want to re listen to all the, all the nuggets in there.

Lori Finch 00:19:42:14

I highly encourage you to.

Logan Colegrove 00:19:44:13

Guess my last question. Is there anything you’re looking forward to or excited about here at Foundant in the upcoming future?

Lori Finch 00:19:52:02

I’m a big, big believer that there is so much more opportunity and so much more we can do with the right tools in place. I love Foundant’s mission and I think that we have a huge opportunity where you’re launching new products, working with and supporting nonprofit organizations, and I’m excited to build partnerships in that area. So really, as I mentioned at the start, sort of nonprofits are the backbone of our communities and do so much of the hard work.

Lori Finch 00:20:25:14

And so just being able to help them a little bit makes me get up every day and have fun coming to work.

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