Prospect Management: It's getting Easier

In my opinion, one of the most difficult parts of evangelism (of the parts I can control, of course) is actually getting out and making calls on prospects. It’s easy to sit behind my office desk and coordinate a mailing. But prospect nurture is a different beast. You want to get out there and see people, yet it seems so hard to actually get it done faithfully. It only gets worse if I get so bogged down in the administration of prospect nurture that I lose time to actually knock on doors and make visits. For example, I used to have to type in and print off the prospect’s address from Google Maps, bring along their prospect card so I wouldn’t forget their children’s names, take a note card with me so I could write down what happened at the visit in my car, and then wait until I’m back at church to re-record the information into our church database.

I know it could be worse. I’m thankful for Google Maps and copy machines, and I’m thankful for a computer database. But these days I’m especially thankful for Salesforce.

Salesforce is a customer relationship management (CRM) and cloud-based software that is designed for large and small businesses. In other words, it can help me track relationships with prospects somewhat like a salesperson would track a relationship with a customer. And the best part is that Salesforce has a strong desire to support non-profit organizations, so my congregation’s account (with up to 10 users) is FREE!

With Salesforce you can access your prospect list and activity history with them in the cloud – at the office, at home, even on the road from your phone app. Salesforce knows how to keep all of your information safe and secure, so you can create and edit new prospects from anywhere. Input their worship attendance, get directions to a house, describe your visit, blind-copy Salesforce on a follow-up email to a prospect, update the status of your relationship, schedule the next task – all in one place. Sync your prospects and follow-up activity with your Outlook contacts and calendar. Streamline your mass prospect emails by integrating MailChimp or Vertical Response into Salesforce through the AppExchange Marketplace.

Wait, there’s more. Salesforce is extremely customizable. Create and customize prospect data fields, tasks, activities, and nurture steps (see previous article, http://www.worshipandoutreach.org/blog/164/right-his-schedule) and then design and print off reports for your church council or evangelism committee. Train your evangelism team to use Salesforce and coordinate your documentation and efforts as a group using a built-in network called Salesforce Chatter.

Interested in Salesforce, but feel overwhelmed by the transition and set up for it? Salesforce has become so popular that I would guess that you have a member (or two or five) with experience in it through work. If not, Salesforce has a good customer support system and response time.

To get started, all you need to do is contact Salesforce (https://www.salesforce.com/) and prove your non-profit status. From there, you’re on your way to spending more time caring for prospects and less time caring for their information.

Contributing writer Daniel Bondow serves as an associate pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where his areas of responsibility include evangelism and adult discipleship.

Rev. Jonathan E. Schroeder

Jonathan Schroeder is the pastor of Faith Lutheran in Sharpsburg, GA. He serves as the Moderator of the Institute of Worship and Outreach, pastor-at-large on the Synodical Council, and is actively involved in WELS School of Outreach and WELS School of Worship.

Full biography »

Right on (His) Schedule

The same advice has come from Seminary professors, my supervising pastor, a veteran associate, and a paper written by a fellow member of the Institute for Worship and Outreach. Take a proactive rather than a reactive approach to Bible Information Class. In other words, don’t wait until you have interested people to schedule a class. Schedule a class, and then work hard to find interested people. I’ve found that advice to be wise for all kinds of reasons during my five years of ministry. This past week I was reminded of one more.

Let me back up. Recently we made the transition to a cloud-based system for managing our prospect list. Like many congregations, we now use a Client Relationship Management (CRM) platform called Sales Force (separate article coming soon).

Part of tailoring the software to meet our prospect management needs included making a list of “statuses” that describe every prospect on our list. Each prospect’s status tells me where that person is in the evangelism process, from our initial contact with them all the way to becoming members of our congregation. The final list consisted of seven steps:

  1. Initial contact made
  2. Initial follow up complete
  3. Law-Gospel appointment made
  4. Law-Gospel visit complete
  5. Enrolled in Bible Information Class
  6. Completed Bible Information Class
  7. Received into membership

Your evangelism process is probably very similar. The only thing new was that now I have an easy-to-use, cloud-based system with which to track that process with every prospect.
I’m sure you’ve also had the experience that sometimes things don’t happen right on schedule. Sometimes that can be frustrating. Other times that can be an unexpected blessing.

This past Sunday a couple came to worship at our church for the first time. Step 1 was achieved. The only problem was that they didn’t fill out one of our information cards. No address. No phone number. Step 2 was impossible.

But then that afternoon I received an email notifying me that someone had filled out our online registration from for our Bible Information Class, which happened to be starting that Thursday. Sure enough, it was the couple that had joined us for worship that morning for the first time. Sometimes it takes years to get people from step 1 to step 5. This couple had done it in less than three hours.

What if we hadn’t had a class starting the week of their first visit? Would they have left their contact information? Would they have ever come back to church? Who knows? I’m just thankful for this unexpected blessing.

So that gives me one more reason to put Bible Information Class on the schedule. Will there always be potential attendees? God-willing. Will it force me to recruit and promote with even greater zeal? Absolutely. At the very least is it worthwhile offering it for members as a review? Of course. And in addition to all of that, putting Bible Information Class on the schedule gives the Holy Spirit an opportunity to give undeserved blessings that are completely off schedule.

Rev. Jonathan P. Bauer

Jonathan Bauer serves at Good News Lutheran Church, Mount Horeb, Wisconsin.

Full biography »

How to get guests again?

We’ve written previously about the importance of following up on worship guests withing 36 hours of their first visit to your church. There is no doubt that God has used this in many cases to bring people back to hearing his Word. (Maybe that article I wrote could be referenced?)

But that raises the question, “What if guests don’t come back the following Sunday, or the Sunday after, or it’s been four weeks?” I’ll be honest, this one is a struggle for me recently. Where I had previously served, it seemed like guests would come, we would follow up. They would come again and we would invite them to start BIC class and they would accept. Maybe I’m romanticizing the past, but I recall several situations like that. Where I am currently serving, we seem to have many more “church shoppers.” People are checking out area churches, or they see our church driving by and just stop to check it out. We rejoice when someone comes to worship for the first time. We really do have a friendly and open congregation, but as God blesses us with growth, it’s hard for anyone other than pastor to know exactly who’s new, particularly on a Sunday with a baptism or something like that. We have secret greeters who talk to people. We follow up, with a visit from pastor and a layperson. But it seems that many, even most people don’t return. We add them to our prospect list and continue to follow up, especially with invitations to major events, but….

I’ve tried to analyze the differences. Maybe people previously had a friend invite them, whereas our guests now often come with no personal connection. Maybe it’s personal connections. Some people have been put off by the Bible’s teachings, like close communion or a sin that was exposed in the sermon. Maybe that’s an issue in a more culturally liberal area. Maybe it’s something else. We take comfort in knowing that the wind blows where it pleases and the 3000 converted at Pentecost and 120,000 converted at the preaching of Jonah are not part of God’s timeless promises for every situation, but again, I’d appreciate some dialogue. I’d be open to discussion. How do we get guests again?

Rev. Nathan Strutz

Nathan Strutz serves as pastor of Resurrection Lutheran Church in Verona, WI. He serves the WELS as chairman of the Western Wisconsin District Mission Board.

Full biography »
Syndicate content