Your members want more. That’s the bottom line. The biggest question they are asking themselves when they actually take a minute during the craziness of their day to consider your association is, “what’s in it for me?” or “how am I really benefitting from this?”
Every day, association professionals face the challenge of not only providing increased value to their members, but figuring out exactly what an individual member finds valuable, providing that value, and also demonstrating that value back for retention and additional non-dues revenue opportunities such as sponsorships or advertising.
Typically, what associations tell us is that they provide great value to their members and they share all of these great “benefits” with prospective members during the member sales process. And, associations share the value they provide with current members in their print and email newsletters, through event invitations, and on their Facebook page, Twitter feeds and other social media outlets.
Associations tell members all about the wonderful opportunities that the association provides, and how that member will benefit. But often missing from a typical association sales process and ongoing membership communications is finding out what’s important to each individual prospective or current member, and reaffirming those priorities periodically.
I think that often, part of the problem is that associations don’t consider that they have to continually “sell” the benefits of membership, and that the most important thing in any sales process is actually listening, not talking or telling.
According to Sandler Sales Institute, which, for those of you who aren’t familiar, is a professional sales training program, too many sales people – and that includes association professionals, whether your title includes the word “sales” or not – “Spill their Candy in the Lobby”…which means, they give away too much information, too soon! They make the mistake of not listening more than they talk. They make the mistake of not finding out what’s important to that prospect or member, and they don’t take the time to fully understand that individual’s priorities, goals and challenges.
So, don’t make that mistake!
Put together a plan to find out what’s important to prospects and members. Formulate some questions to get at what their challenges, priorities and goals are. Once you’ve spent a lot of time listening, and identifying an individual businesses’ challenges and goals, only then share with them a solution ---
- how the association will help their individual business to achieve its goals
- what committees would be most beneficial
- what events would serve them best, based on what they told you
- what communications, newsletters, social networks, would be best – FOR THEM!
Listen to prospects and members, identify what’s important to them, make sure you take note of it and then tailor Association benefits to their needs. Move away from One Size Fits All membership. That will bring you one step closer to creating loyal members.
And remember track the intelligence you gain on each member in your association management software and use it to create member loyalty! More on that in my next blog post…
Pam Sefrino is the National Sales Manager for software and technology sales at WebLink International. With more than 10 years of senior level association experience, Pam, with the rest of the WebLink team, is focused on helping membership organizations to remain relevant and easily gain and use valuable member and customer "intelligence" to help streamline operations and communications and create long-lasting member value, increased retention, new member sales and non-dues revenue.