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No, this isn’t a motivational speech given at halftime of a high school football game. This is a blog designed to reinforce what you probably already know: scheduling a bunch of demonstrations for your new donor database (or accounting software, or membership software, or really any kind of presentation or demonstration) within a short window of time is a really bad idea.

Why?

It clouds your concentration.

Let’s say the typical vendor takes you through a roughly hour-long demonstration. Now, let’s imagine you are doing all that with three, four, maybe even eight companies.

How in the world can you be expected to keep which company has which feature separate from each other? I have been the first presenter in such a day (as well as the last) and by the end of the day, no one on staff is able to concentrate in the slightest. Not only do they have trouble focusing, they cannot remember which company they just spoke with an hour ago, much less go through some sort of proper evaluation process.

This isn’t even including pre-and-post-phone calls and emails with the vendor.

Clear Eyes + Full Hearts = Can’t Lose

Your donor database is a CRITICAL decision. Narrow down your options to 2-3, then give them each an hour and a half on separate days to show their strengths so you can properly process and evaluate them. Make sure you keep your mission-critical items at the forefront – you know you are concerned with donor retention and donor engagement, so don’t be distracted by frivolous, cool-sounding bells and whistles. It will be much harder to get distracted if you are only participating in one demo each day.

Your heart needs to be full, not tired and worn out.

If you are participating in multiple demos in one day, not only is your mind not going to be able to be engaged, but neither is your heart. If you don’t get a little excited when you look at your next donor database, you need to question that. If you aren’t excited by it, will you really use it to its fullest capabilities? Probably not. We often look at emotions as being negative when making a buying decision, but in reality they should be at least a part of the equation.

If you are looking at some software, and you can dream for a moment about accomplishing some goals (professional and even personal) because you can see how the software will assist in retaining more donors, in engaging prospects and donors more effectively, and even in jump starting your major gifts program, get excited about it! That excitement should be factored in when you make your evaluations. As cheesy as it sounds, you want something with heart and soul in it – otherwise you may not use it as much as you intend to.

And finding something with heart and soul is difficult when you’ve been on demonstrations all day long (unless you have Huey Louis’s greatest hits).

So take a couple of extra days, spread those demos out, and make sure you are focused on what matters the most to you, as well as able to feel those emotions when something really exciting crosses your desk!