Association management and marketing is much like any other service-oriented business. Though they exist for a specific goal and purpose, increasing association membership is a lot like selling other services. You have to find good leads (membership prospects), convince them of the value (of becoming a member), and get them to convert (join your team).
Like other sales professionals, you will come across people who say “no” to membership, no matter how well you’ve presented your value proposition. Do you just give up and leave them alone? Sometimes, yes. But sometimes an opt out means you haven’t tried hard enough or it could mean the prospect just needs more time to decide.
Instead of tossing in the towel when your offer gets declined, determine if they are really just asking you to try harder to earn their business. Of course, if this is the case, there’s still a chance you can win them over. This helps you get the maximum benefits from all of the hard work you put in generating leads. It can be a vital part of your lead nurturing process.
Keep the Conversation Open
After a “no,” follow up with a couple of simple questions. Remember, as long as they are willing to engage in back-and-forth communications, they are open to what you have to say. Ask questions like, “What is standing in the way of you joining our organization?” or, “What if you don’t join and X happens?” As long as the conversation continues and the lines of communication are open, there’s still the potential for the prospect to become a member.
Start New Lines of Communications
When you determine that they are really asking for some additional convincing, there are several lines of communication you can open, which will either lead to a “yes” or deliver you better insight into how to build a better value proposition with other prospects. Try these 3 tips:
- Ask them for their feedback on your membership offerings. Maybe you haven’t sufficently explained a compelling reason to join, or maybe the pricing structure is not suitable. You can tweak your membership pitch or your offerings to reflect the feedback you get from these kinds of questions.
- Be willing to offer them a better deal on membership. We all want to feel that we’ve gotten a special deal—extra membership perks or special rates could just sweeten deal.
- Build their trust. Perhaps they will be willing to make a smaller commitment, such as receiving your monthly newsletter or participating in another way. This can often highlight your benefits so that they will be willing to join your association when the time is right for them.
Know When to Back Down
Unfortunately, not every prospect is going to become a member, and for some, pushing further only serves to aggravate your lead. Still, even rejection can be a valuable learning opportunity.
- Reevaluate how you are qualifying your leads. Is there a better way to determine who is more likely to join your association?
- Reevaluate your pitch. Is it too pushy? Are there too many unanswered questions? Is it unclear what the value of your memberships is? Is the value high enough to justify the cost of the memberships? Perhaps you need to add additional levels of membership to attract members with different budgets and needs.
- Evaluate the competition. Does a similar organization offer something more attractive or more affordable? What can you do to make your value proposition stand out?
Once you’ve converted your prospect into a member, you’ll want to continually delight them so that they stay engaged with you and your association. Download the eBook Scoring Member Engagement to find out how to spot rising stars and fading members so you can target your engagement activites.