Ah, the sales ‘go round’… I’ve attended meetings for years now where we sit around the table with association people who are NOT in sales or the business development area. They start ticking off all the prospective member companies we should have, or the sponsors who should be at a six-figure package. I like to categorize these as “oughta be’s.”
“Oh, ‘so and so’ ought to be a member, etc.” Happens over and over again. However, I can only shake my head because I’ve been here before. The fact of the matter is: pitches have been made – they’ve never joined – they’ve never shown a lot of interest – or, they’ve given you the stiff arm when it comes down to writing the check. The fact of the matter is something must change fundamentally to get a response. Just because your colleagues think it should be doesn’t mean squat – and, when is the last time those folks actually sold something.
Well, just to leave it at that really isn’t responsible. You might need a more strategic plan to make progress.
In a proactive response to this ongoing membership acquisition challenge, The Moery Company developed a specific key account program we utilize that might be helpful to you to land the big member or sponsor.
Here’s a couple key ideas:
- First and foremost: it takes more time to land the “Big Kahuna.” In fact, we’ve found the sales cycle can be double that of the regular member as these are more complex organizations. So, the process must be more strategic and long term in the thinking.
- To proceed the right way, the effort involves the entire organization. This means the sales process will take the CEOs involvement, the head of Government Affairs, and other association members and suppliers to advocate for membership on your behalf. Closing the deal will require an “all-in” effort by the association assets with the appropriate connection at the prospect.
- It’s essential to set benchmark goals for the prospect on a quarterly basis. Throughout the quarter, track how you move the ball down the field with very simple goals such as:
- The CEO makes a phone call to the prospect CEO.
- The Head of Membership sends an invitation to a particular event or program relevant to the prospects interest and/or pain points in the industry.
- The Director of Government Affairs sends out an agenda for an upcoming legislative affairs briefing– an issue that could make or break business for that potential member.
I’d like to offer a resource to everybody. We’ve developed a “Key Account Development Matrix,” which I would be happy to send anyone who’s interested. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The key account matrix breaks down into 3 key areas.
- The 1st section is “Relationship Management.” Here we identify people who may be beneficial or part of the network responsible for recruiting that new member. Those are internal staff, but as I mentioned earlier, they could be people outside of the association.
- The 2nd section is the “Needs Analysis.” Based on our priorities as an organization, based on their needs as a company, what are the key areas and issues that we are going to leverage to show value to the prospect when trying to land them.
- The 3rd part is “Monitoring Social Media, Press Releases, and Company News” about the prospect. In this way, we identify comments from the CEO on issues of importance and find how they align with our priorities as an association – public policy, for example.
Finally, after we’ve done our homework – we break down the results and are well positioned to move forward. Good luck and let me know if you need a fishing partner.
For more on sales, check out:
Overcoming the #1 Sales Objection
Sales Exercises for CEOs
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