Make the Sale: Proving Your ROI to Members

 “Why should I pay for membership when I can get it all for free?”

That’s a great question. Do you have a great answer?

You need a great answer to make the sale. Here are some ideas and tips for membership sales success.

Do You Have a Compelling MVP?

Your Member Value Proposition is not a list of the things you do. It answers the question from the members’ perspective, “What’s in it for me?” “Why should I care?”

Your MVP is ground zero for attracting new members and renewing existing members.

What Makes the Sale?

The best sales pitches provoke both a positive emotional reaction and a positive analytical reaction.

Yes, I really want that and ooh, it saves me money!”

The emotional appeal of membership centers around the desire for belonging and may offer a sense of elitism.

  • Belonging
    • As a member, you have a chance to connect with other people like you; who have the same challenges and issues. The feeling of belonging is a powerful human desire. It’s one of the fundamental elements of Abraham Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs and the foundation of many popular TV shows like Big Bang Theory, Cheers; “Where everybody knows your name…”, Friends.
    • Does your association have a tight-knit membership who value their time together and welcome new members? Get testimonials and videos from your members. *
  • Elitism
    • Does your membership include the key influencers in your sector? Like attracts like, and everyone who wants to emulate them.
    • If you have members who are influential industry leaders, then membership is an invitation to be part of this “club.”
    • Successful and influential professionals and companies want to be associated with others at their level.

The quantifiable appeal of membership is primarily about money saved or earned, and services or opportunities one could not find elsewhere.

  • Money
    • More business. Do members get business from other members? Ensure prospective members are aware of the influential decision-makers in your association. (*Member testimonials/videos)
    • Lower Costs. Do members save money on products or services? If so, how much? Ask your members. (*Member testimonials/videos)
  • Services/Opportunities
    • Help. Your association team is a resource for your members. They can call the office for advice, guidance, advocacy and information.
    • Time Savings. Much of the information that you provide your members is probably available elsewhere at no cost. But it takes time to hunt down the information and present it in a form that is relevant. Your efforts save your members time; something that no one has enough of.
    • If Government Relations/Stakeholder Relations/Advocacy is your association’s primary value proposition, your sales challenge is that the entire industry/profession will benefit from your efforts whether they are members or not.

Your response is that members have a seat at the table; input into shaping strategy and policy, and inside information about potential changes before they become public knowledge. Non-members don’t have this advantage.

Marketing on a Budget

Regardless of the size of your marketing budget, you can leverage your existing social media and stakeholder relations activity to market membership at little additional cost. Make sure you’re using all your communications channels to ensure non-members (and members) know about your association’s activities and value, and why they should care.

Tips for Success

  1. Articulate a compelling MVP. Make sure you have this before you move forward. It’s the foundation for everything you do, and it informs all of your sales and marketing activity.
  2. Create your Pipeline. This is your database of prospects for membership. Keep adding to it with non-members who attend your events and connect with you in other ways. Be sure to comply with CASL legislation.
  3. Engage a sales professional that knows your profession/industry, the association world, and has relevant experience.
  4. Train them. Seriously. They need to know your MVP cold, they need sample scripts, and they need a documented sales and nurturing strategy and process.
  5. Manage them. Well. You need to work with them to set targets, keep them on track, monitor results and tweak the process as appropriate.

Next Steps

  1. Articulate and document your MVP.
  2. Develop and document your marketing strategy, process and collateral.
  3. Develop and document your sales strategy, process and collateral.
  4. Develop and document your sales pitch.
  5. Create your prospect list with all available contact information. Ensure you have database software that allows you to manage the sales and nurturing process.
  6. Execute your marketing and sales strategies.
  7. Track your results and refine your strategy/process as you move forward.

Erin Roberts is a Partner with Zzeem. Zzeem is an association management and consultancy agency to membership associations. Find out more about uncovering your Member Value Proposition: