Supporting your sales team
Employing an outbound telemarketer to follow up information kits and also make outbound calls letting people know about upcoming events can provide a boost to your conversion rates. To make it affordable consider hiring them on a base salary plus commission basis.
Establish a performance based remuneration structure
If appropriate for your organisational culture, establish a structure to reward those who are proactive in getting members to join. You will need to clarify things such as what counts as a sale, what people can promise, what scope they have to sell to (such as a geographic area or membership type), the methods of selling they can use, the activity levels expected, the documentation they need to produce, key performance indications and the remuneration structure and similar issues.
Create a volunteer telemarketing team
In some associations it is feasible to use volunteer members to follow up information kits. If you supply them with all the information (so all they need to do is make a telephone call) and emphasise the benefits to the member of doing this (networking, etc.) then you should be able to get volunteers. This kind of personal testimonial is a fantastic sales tool.
Ensure you supply good lists
Telemarketers need a continual supply of good lists. This is where the membership machine process can be very helpful in providing a supply of warm leads. Ensure you train your telemarketers to operate in a way consistent with your association's values.
Ensure you provide appropriate sales resources
It is also important they are provided with all the resources – including cheat sheets and copies of membership collateral – to ensure they can proactively engage with prospective members.
Sales courses for sales and marketing staff
It is important that marketing and sales staff are continually exposed to training in their disciplines. In terms of the effectiveness of outcomes, it is as important for the marketing and sales people to keep up to date on the latest techniques as it is for an accountant to keep abreast of the latest tax laws.
Encourage a relationship based sales philosophy
We are all familiar with the stereotypical, pushy salesperson. This kind of approach is not appropriate in complex service products such as memberships. The hard sell is a short sighted approach that can create untold long term damage to an association. The by-product of these types of salespeople is that they have given the entire profession a bad name and can discourage people from proudly entering what can be an extremely rewarding career.
In contrast, there are salespeople who have embraced a relationship based sales approach. This value adding approach focuses on finding solutions to customer needs and, due to its nature, has a cumulative long term benefit to any association that employs it. These salespeople focus on building trust and creating mutually beneficial long-term relationships. Partnered with a salesperson like this people can find genuine solutions to their problems and will return to this person time and time again.
To be effective it is vital that this approach is applied sincerely. The relationship based sales approach is particularly effective when the product being sold is complex, a service and/or involves many purchases over time. Therefore, it is ideally suited to member-based associations.