Whether you are an organization of 250 or 2500, the topic of sales is always going to be on the table for discussion. Naturally, more members mean more resources, more voices, more leverage. The structure of the sales force is unique for every organization and always seems to be shifting and changing. Sales is a bottom line issue. There are financial goals attached to it, and if it’s not working and the goals aren’t being met, then it shifts again. New job descriptions, new commission structure or incentives, new accountability measures, new positions, new people. Out with old, in with the new, and then tomorrow…out with the old and in with the new. Hours of consulting are contracted to look for the silver bullet. Hours of breakout sessions and keynote delivery of the topic at conferences have everyone just hoping they will find the right answer.
The answer, however, is that the right solution is as individual as the organizations themselves and as unique as whatever situation they currently find themselves in.
While maybe not a silver bullet, I would like to offer what I believe is at least a strategic approach to sales that will position your organization for more consistent success for those bottom line goals. I believe membership sales must be a “team sport.” Regardless of who has direct job responsibility for the sales goals, if you build a team structure to support the effort, there is much more opportunity for success.
First, identify who has a direct link to your sales success:
- Board of Directors
- Committee Members
- Members at large
- Other staff members. Don’t forget the receptionists! They are the front line.
Each of these groups can provide insight and information that will inform your strategy.
- Understand each area of operation; what they do and how that could connect you to your prospects. With the CEO and board, this can include communication from them for those key member prospects with whom they have a direct connection.
- Stay connected with each of these groups. Ask for updates on specific projects or issues that affect membership recruitment.
- Keep everyone connected to your work. Routinely bring them up to date, and have open dialogue with the group on how they can help you succeed.
- Have data on your side. Be proactive with anyone who collects the data; make sure they collect information that will inform your process and that everyone involved is accountable for that collection.
If you’ve ever been in direct sales or network marketing, you know that if your up line is weak, it’s really tough to build your own business. Consider the entire organization team your up line, and make sure they understand that sales success means more resources for everyone. If you succeed with your sales goals, the entire organization will benefit. The whole team has a role in that ultimate success and in the ultimate rewards.