“Be prepared” is a motto that’s suitable for more than just Boy Scouts.
Preparation is the key to success when pushing to upgrade membership software. Just as every salesperson is prepared to overcome the most common objections to their product or service, you must prepare for the inevitable pushback when you present your case for a new system.
You may already have a list of features you need in a new member system, some support from your coworkers, and perhaps even a few software vendors in mind, but if you’re not ready to hear a list of reasons why a change isn’t necessary and produce a compelling argument—you’re not ready.
From conversations in board rooms to war rooms to conference tables, there are always plenty of reasons not to upgrade your membership management software, but not all are in your organization’s best interest, and therefore must be overcome.
Take a look at this list of the most common objections to upgrading.
1. “We don’t have the budget for this.”
There’s a reason we’ve listed this objection first: budget (or lack thereof) is the single biggest pushback for change. But just like you may not have the budget to buy a brand new Volvo as your family car, you do have a budget to get to work on time, to transport your kids to school safely, etc.
See what just happened? There wasn’t a budget for something new and shiny, but there was a budget for something useful and safe.
The first thing you need to do is reframe this endeavor as an investment, not an expense. Yes, there will be a large upfront investment in the system, in terms of both money, time, and resources. But also think about these costs:
- How much will it cost if 40% of your membership base leaves due to lack of service?
- How many employee hours are wasted every week due to inefficiency?
- Can you consolidate several systems (marketing, event management, accounting) into a single, comprehensive platform?
- Is there more revenue in your membership that you can’t get to because you don’t have the visibility to see all the opportunities?
The long-term cost of those issues may significantly outweigh the upfront cost of a new system, yet that fact is left out of many startup discussions around membership management software.
Don’t be caught unprepared for it! Check out a few more tips on creating a compelling case for an upgrade.
Or, if you’re ready to dive into the costs, we have a comprehensive guide to AMS software pricing available for free.
2. “I can’t justify this when we just upgraded three years ago.”
This is an issue that we can totally sympathize with—nobody likes doing large-scale software implementations every few years. It’s expensive, there’s a significant effort that goes into project management, and you have to re-train all your employees. It’s not exactly a day at the beach.
Unfortunately, the age of the system (or how long ago since you upgraded) has ZERO to do with the utility of the system. If your AMS software doesn’t meet the needs of your members, creates inefficiency in the office, and adds technology consulting costs when it breaks, it doesn’t matter if you upgraded yesterday—you still need a solution that works.
This objection is more politically motivated than results-motivated—somebody, somewhere will feel like they’ve failed because the initial AMS software didn’t do its job. It’s not an easy conversation to have, but it’s a lot easier than looking back a year from now at all the lost opportunities in terms of membership revenue and workplace inefficiencies.
Our suggestion is to address this objection directly, but then to move quickly into the reasons why the current system is failing. Speaking of the next objection…
3. “How does our solution now not meet the needs of our organization?”
Now we’re getting to the good stuff—the fact that your management team or board is looking beyond the phrase “new system” and is asking for details is a great sign. This point in the discussion can be a huge turning point for your case to upgrade if you’re properly prepared.
Here are a couple great talking points for this area:
Communication: How are you communicating internally and externally (email marketing, etc.) currently? Are the systems efficient, measurable, and fun to use?
Growth: How does your current system support membership growth? Is it specifically designed to point out opportunities an increase members or revenue?
Reporting: How useful are the reports you’re able to pull currently? How long do they take to generate? Is all the data available in one place, or do you have to involve multiple people to gather the info you need?
While these are great topics to add to your upgrade discussion, they are only the tip of the iceberg. For more ideas of how to show your current AMS isn’t meeting the needs of your organization, check out our free guide: How to Subtly Push for Change When It’s Obviously Time for an Upgrade
4. “It’s not a widespread enough of an issue to invest in resolving.”
We love this objection! That’s because it opens the door to a larger discussion about how membership software truly affects an organization.
The easiest way to overcome this objection is to ask:
“Are you sure?”
Many people don’t understand just how many people or departments a poorly run association management system drags into the workload.
For instance, let’s say you need financial data on your members, but you also need event attendance data—are these housed in the same database? Or, do you have to contact somebody in accounting to get the financials and another person in marketing to get the event info? This is not an uncommon scenario, but since neither department serves a core member services function, nobody feels that they are affected by this inefficiency, or the time goes unaccounted for.
The same goes for the technical support team that spends countless hours responding to support tickets generated by both employees and members. Sure, the technical team isn’t directly responsible for the AMS, but they might spend 20% of their week working on issues resulting from it!
The amount of time your entire organization spends on issues and activities related to the association management system may hide underneath the surface, so do your due diligence to make sure you understand the full scope.
5. “But we’re already used to how things are operating currently.”
OK, so you’re used to how things are. Is that necessarily a good thing?
Let’s use end-of-the-quarter reporting as an example. Every three months, you are tasked with developing a comprehensive report on the state of your membership. You’ll need to report on things like revenue, growth/attrition, event attendance, and member engagement—just to name a few.
So you’ll call a meeting with every department that’s involved and set deadlines for each task. It takes a few days for each department to feed you the data, and then an entire afternoon to compile it into a report, then one more meeting to review the results. The whole process takes nearly a week and three different departments to complete
That’s how things are operating currently, but what if the same result could be accomplished by one individual in a few minutes?
Real-time reporting, data accessibility, and allowing a single user access to every part of the system they need (without having to request anything from other departments) is how modern membership software should work.
Extrapolate this example for quarterly reporting into other areas of the organization to understand that your current routines may not be the only way to accomplish your goals.
Lesson here: Just because that’s the way it is, doesn’t mean it’s right.
6. “The team just doesn’t have the bandwidth for a move like this at this time.”
Getting close! This is the last-ditch objection, which is good news for your case for upgrading your membership management software.
If your team doesn’t have bandwidth now, they won’t in a few months, either. Seriously, when is the last time you remember getting less busy?
There’s really no getting around it—large-scale software migrations can be a long, involved project (proper planning can help!). But the good news is that you have plenty of options, and the better you plan from the start the quicker you’ll finish; with less headache, too.
Additionally, most vendors will have an option for consulting and migration that you can take advantage of if your internal team is tapped.
There you have it—the most common objections to upgrading your membership software we’ve heard from years of implementations and migrations around the world. Remember to not take objections (or outright rejection) personally and that there is a good reason you brought up the idea of an upgrade in the first place. Don’t lose sight of your goal!
For more details on getting signoff on a new system, as well as a step-by-step playbook for developing your case without upsetting anybody at your organization, download our free guide: How to Subtly Push for Change When It’s Obviously Time for an Upgrade.