Updated By: Amelia Mazza
“How do you get association clients?” We hear this question quite a bit. We’ve partnered with more than 100 associations over the years and have a pretty broad background in the space. Selling to associations can be tricky because remember you are selling to sales professionals, so they know all the sales tricks out there. In this blog, we will go over how to sell to associations and provide four things to keep in mind in your sales process to make sure you make it to the front of the line.
Position Yourself as a Solution
The key is to position yourself as a solutions provider to problems. When marketing your company, talk about the issues you will solve for the organization, not the services or benefits you provide. This shows the association that you understand their pain points and are in this to help them, not just make a transaction.
Associations will most often move on an issue or seek help when there’s a fire – when there’s a problem they absolutely have to address. So, service providers who are well-positioned to quell a crisis are better poised to be successful.
One way to make sure you are ready for associations when they need you is to focus on content delivery and thought leadership. The value of thought leadership and content delivery is the most valuable part of modern marketing. Capitalize on being an expert in your field, you’ll attract more associations that way. Use all the relevant platforms to communicate your experiences in solving problems for associations.
Whether it is podcasting, Facebook, blogs, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, email marketing, etc., your brand is how your audience will perceive you, so make it a strong one. With content delivery, be sure to produce strong thought leadership, so you are top of mind when a problem does arise for an association. You can also utilize your content as a platform to share customer stories which is an excellent way to build trust and creditability in your online community. For more information, check out our blog with tips on building a strong brand.
We have observed a lot of association vendors leaving the industry because it’s slow-moving. This is all because associations generally want to do their due diligence. That isn’t always a bad thing, but you should factor it into your sales process.
These organizations often go through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process and will turn to their boards when hiring and for approvals. The entire process adds up to a slower decision-making process which turns into a lot of waiting around in a fast-paced world which can feel very time-consuming. Be patient and be prepared to support their process with valuable information.
Touch on Your History
The last element to consider is ‘what associations have you served?’ This piece is probably the most significant thing an association will want to know. There’s a considerable difference between doing something for a small community organization compared to a national organization. Associations look at the big dogs you’ve served in the past, your credibility, and your profile. You must be able to promote your past work and the results you achieved for previous clients.
So, to best sell to associations, 1) position yourself as a problem solver, 2) become a thought leader in the association space by generating your own content, 3) recognize that it will take time, and 4) make sure you highlight the results you’ve delivered to other associations. Happy selling!
If you have any questions or want more tips, don’t hesitate to reach out to our Association Sales experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.