We are in the middle of training volunteers to make sales calls for a membership campaign and I’m left thinking about this routine that membership sales professionals engage in daily. Membership organizations deal with rejection every single day. Often multiple times a day. We get jaded and hard from dealing with rejection. It goes with the territory. It’s not personal. A NO will NOT stop your pulse.
Admittedly, it’s hard when we are singularly passionate about something, and present it that way to a potential new member, and they still don’t buy it. We BELIEVE in what we have to offer, we KNOW that the value given from membership in our organization is a win for all involved. Our engaged members have incredible stories to tell about how the organization benefitted them. But clearly, not everyone feels the same way.
So what do we do? How can we successfully overcome objections and convert our presentations into new members? Not only new members, but ENGAGED new members and members that will stay with us for the long term.
Let’s start with your message. You may not even have objections, if you craft your initial approach just the right way.
- Start strong. Give an opening, positive story about what the organization is doing for the community, and blow up any objections BEFORE they explode in your face. If you know there are some “usual suspects”…objections you hear fairly often already…then answer those in the very beginning so that the prospect can’t come back to use them and get you off course later.
- Don’t be apologetic. If YOU don’t believe it how can you expect them to?
- Ask questions. Make sure you understand what will resonate with them by asking questions specific to THEIR business. What keeps you up at night? This will allow you to customize the message to address specific concerns or needs. You cannot succeed with a canned, “one size fits all”, delivery.
- Don’t do all the talking. Ask questions and LISTEN to the answers.
Here are some common objections and responses to them:
- “I was a member, but I didn’t have time to participate.” You know, of course, that membership does NOT require participation. When you get this objection, and trust me you will, have a “value” answer ready for it. What do you do as an advocate, what do you do for the collective community whether they are a member or not? Give a specific story of some issue that you have advocated for or are as a voice for business. Make sure that they understand that their membership is an “investment” to insure that you are able to thrive in a healthy local economy. While others are working in their business, spending time with their families or having fun with friends, YOUR organization is out there going to the mattresses for THEM on their behalf!!
- “I dropped my membership years ago because I disagreed with something they did.” Personality and leadership differences can’t be changed. But really, would any of us want to be criticized today for some unfortunate decision that was made in the past. Times change, people change, circumstances change. Everyone should be able to make positive changes today that are not overshadowed by unfortunate choices in the past. Try an appeal for a second chance for a year with a 100% guaranteed refund at the end of that period if they still aren’t convinced. One caveat; make SURE to ask this prospect if they had reached out personally to the CEO/ED when they became frustrated with the organization in the past. Make sure they understand that if they disagree with something, the absolute first thing they need to do is call the leader of the organization. OPEN the door for positively receiving complaints and feedback regardless of what it is.
- “I can’t afford to join.” Have a dollars and cents conversation with this prospect. Show them the benefits that will put money in their pocket with a $$ figure attached to it. Make it affordable for them by working on payment options. Give them ideas of where to take it from their budget. Do you have marketing products? It can come from their marketing budget. Do they have staff? Your education programs would be a benefit and they could take their membership dues out of a professional development budget. Remind them that a membership is a tax deduction as an ordinary business expense.
- “There’s nothing in it for me.” Of course there is. Pull from several of the responses above. Again, ask questions and identify exactly what WOULD benefit them specifically. This objection can only be overcome if you customize an answer in response to “what’s keeping them up at night”. Ask, “What would make it easier for you do business?” Help them dig a little and they WILL come up with something that you have a solution for.
No IS an answer, and sometimes it is the answer we are going to get and that’s OK. If you’ve given it every shot, you’ve covered all the points above and then some, then just let the no be no. Say thank you for your time, please let me know if I can ever assist you in any way AND I wish you every success with your business! All with a smile and a positive attitude (remember this is NOT about YOU) and then MOVE ON!!!! Don’t let it slow you down, don’t let it cloud your enthusiasm or belief in your organization and certainly don’t let it stop you. There are plenty of others out there who will respond positively to your message!!!