Selling Membership Solutions vs Products



Recently, I was inspired by a quote I saw posted on LinkedIn that really struck me: “It’s Not the Products You Sell, It’s the Problems You Solve.” And, I thought about this perspective for our clients and for associations selling membership in particular.

What’s the best way to get trade association membership sales? For successful trade association membership sales, focusing on solutions rather than just benefits is crucial. Instead of simply advertising an association’s products or services, emphasize how they can solve real-world challenges for prospects.

For instance, showcase how the association helps in advocacy, offers targeted education on regulations, or facilitates face-to-face networking in a digital age. By aligning with the real needs of potential members, associations can drive more effective and impactful membership sales campaigns.

From what I see in my business – selling solutions is what association membership sales campaigns could be all about. Not the benefits you offer – but, the particular problems your association can solve for that prospect. Here are three examples:
Advocacy – as an association, you are working on a major piece of legislation on Capitol Hill, which could cost a prospect thousands of dollars. That business can’t fight it on their own nor can they stop it, but the association can. This is problem-solving and it has immense value.  Your ability to address this problem saves your member prospect time and possibly a lot of coin.
Education – I see this approach with some of our financial services clients. For example, a new regulation has just been past and a prospective client is challenged by the new reg. Your association can educate them on how to comply with this new regulation. That’s selling a solution to a big problem.
Individual, Professional or Business Growth – in this digital world, it’s more difficult than ever to connect with people face to face.  However, we know people are continually attracted to the prospects of joining an association so the can meet others, and gain expertise and perspective from them. The association communicates this message: “We’re going to bring all of your prospects and current clients to one place so you can see them face to face.” Again, you are solving the problem of meeting and connecting with people they want to do business with.
Emphasizing solutions is key – and, is more effective than saying, “We will represent your company on Capitol Hill”, “We have educational programs for your company”, “Hey, we’re going to have an Annual Conference in San Francisco – Mark Your Calendar.” These are all “products” that you sell and this approach is strictly association-centric.
Selling solutions can be a subtle shift in your membership sales approach, and I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be more successful as you shoot to meet your annual goals. I wish you the very best on doing so.


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