Let’s face it. People have a lot on their minds these days. With concerns over inflation, the rising costs of goods and gas, monkey pox, increased COVID numbers, the world is an anxious place. Even for people ignoring those concerns, summer is looming and many people are putting things on cruise control until the fall. We’ve got membership sales tips to help you with that.
When times are tough, people are not thinking about building their businesses. They’re simply thinking about survival.
If you apply Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to chamber membership sales, you know that when someone is worried about survival, they’re not focused on achieving full potential. The same is true of possible member businesses. When they’re focused on the day-to-day basics of business and life, committing to something larger (in mind, not necessarily in cost) is difficult.
We have a few membership sales tips and “Dos and Don’ts” that can help, especially if you don’t have a designated membership director.
Membership Sales Dos and Don’ts
Summer can naturally slow membership sales. The summer of 2022 may see even larger stalls due to growing inflation concerns, supply chain issues, employment/staffing problems, and the cost of gas.
While we can’t solve those problems, we can help with a few membership sales tips.
- Use storytelling and examples of similar businesses and how they achieved success through chamber membership. Stories are something that will stick with prospects and have an impact.
- Use proactive tactics instead of reactive ones. “When can we meet?” is more effective than “Call me when you want to schedule something.” Don’t give them the power. That forces you to wait on the phone call (that likely won’t come) and places you in a spot of inaction.
- Perfect the most important parts of your email. When writing a membership email, remember the three most important things–a compelling subject line, a human name attached to it (sending it from firstname.lastname@example.org gives them no reason to open it), and telling them what’s in it for them within the first three lines of the email. If you can’t get to the point in the first three lines at least make it interesting enough that they want to continue reading.
- Accomplish everything you need to within “one scroll” on a phone. Any message you send electronically should be able to be read in one scroll or less. Anything longer and you’ve lost the reader.
- Don’t be afraid to use a negative statement. Negative statements used well will not only keep you from attracting the wrong type of business but they can also perk renewed interest in someone who has stalled or been noncommittal in signing up. For instance using something like, “Maybe you’re just not ready for this next step in your business. That’s perfectly understandable. We’re here when you are and in the meantime we’ll keep advocating for businesses like yours.” can be very effective in renewing stalled interest in the chamber.
- Don’t hesitate to refer to the competition. If the business’ competition is a member, mention that. If you don’t feel comfortable, mention their industry and explain a lot of similar businesses have had success with the chamber.
- Don’t use the same sales technique for everyone. While we can give you sales tips, there is not one-size-fits-all technique to landing a sale. Getting to know your potential member and the needs of their business will help you decide which sales techniques are the most effective for the business.
- Don’t do most of the talking. The potential member should be doing 70% of the talking when you meet. You should leave (or hang up) with a solid understanding of what they are struggling with and what they are most proud of in their business. If you have a hard time getting them to open up and talk, turn the conversation to the passion behind their business and talk about their successes. Someone who makes you feel good about yourself is someone you’ll remember and want to spend more time with so you want to ensure they enjoy the conversation.
Membership Sales Tips
In addition to the Dos and Don’ts, there are several techniques you should be aware of that can help businesses see the value in chamber membership.
Give Them an Action Item
If you approach a potential member in person and they’re not ready to make a decision that day, give them a to-do.
An action item brings about two things. They now have skin in the game. You will be following up and getting in touch with them again.
Secondly, you are now on equal levels. They have something to do and you have something to do. When you are presenting the value behind chamber membership, they are not doing you a favor by becoming a member. This is a mutually beneficial scenario. They are becoming a member and you are helping their business. They are making an investment in their organization.
You never want to be that student on the door step begging someone to buy a chocolate bar so they can go on a school trip. You are offering something of value. They would be smart to invest in their business though membership. If you approach it with that confidence, you will be more successful than if it sounds like you are asking them for a favor.
Be Specific and Clear About What’s in It for Them
You are selling a membership but they need to hear how it benefits them, not the chamber. Throughout your presentation, email, or call, reiterate how they will benefit. In your closing, if a future meeting is required to make the sale, tell them you need to get on their calendar and tell them why as it pertains to their business, not your needs.
Additionally, psychologists will tell you, people are more apt to grant your ask when followed by a “because” and then a reason, even if it’s not compelling. In chamber membership sales, you can’t go wrong if the ask is followed by a benefit to the business.
Provide a Solid Framework
There are many sales methodologies out there but one of the easiest to apply to membership sales is Corporate Vision’s, “Why Change, Why Now, Why Me.”
To become a member, a business must decide that they want something or are dissatisfied with the current situation. Years ago, people joined the chamber because it was the expected thing to do. These days, membership is more solutions based. Your chamber can provide them with something they either can’t do themselves or can’t do efficiently or cost-effectively. They need a change.
But needing a change isn’t enough reason to become a member.
Have you ever opened an email from an organization and thought, “I need that.” And then you do nothing. You liking their product or service is not enough for them to get the sale. Because the next step is action. Desire is great. Action is better. When selling memberships, you need business owners to act so you have to inspire them to do so…now.
The final part of this sales methodology is convincing them that the best solution to their need is the chamber. You may be lucky that you are the only pro-business organization in the area but with the internet, you could have competition with virtual business groups as well.
Perfect your sales technique by learning what they want/need (remember, this is about them) and then talk about why they need to change at this time versus a few months or years from now.
A Final Chamber Membership Sales Tip
Our strongest membership sales tips is to remind you that people often get caught in the status quo. It’s hard to do anything different. It’s much easier to continue the way things have always been. That’s why it’s imperative as part of the sales process that you always give the prospect a next step. Tell them when you’ll reach out again; ask them to answer a question or bring something to the next meeting; always use a call to action.
Doing nothing is usually the default so if you want to sell more memberships, you need to give them a reason to invest based on their business goals and what they want. Then give them a next step so stagnation is not the default.