When talking with a member for renewal or a prospect for new membership investment, how do you manage the common response “It’s not in the budget”?
First, what does that really mean? Is it that there’s no money in the checkbook or in the working budget? Or is it a tactful way for someone to say that they see no reason to give you the money?
The reality is that it comes down to whether the person knows the value they’ll reap from spending the money: the understanding of how their investment is working. If their response is the budget excuse, it’s clear they’re not seeing or experiencing the value in what your organization does. While we know the work you do is critical and impacts your members, industry, and community, they aren’t on the same page. But good news: they can be!
When you hear the no budget statement, ask yourself, have we effectively educated our members and prospects on how their investment works and what it allows us as an organization to accomplish?
If you’re an organization that’s all about advocacy, do your members understand in terms that they can relate to how this impacts their operations and bottom line? Or if you’re an organization that creates a quality life that makes more people want to live and work in your community, do your members understand this big picture impact?
Messaging matters. Look at how and what you’re messaging through your conversations, events, social media, emails, and newsletters. Consider how you can educate your members and prospects on your mission and the true impact you bring to your industry or community.
You want to be sure that you’re sharing the story of what you do. I find Associations and Chambers are shy about sharing successes and accomplishments. Clients often say, “I don’t want to brag about what we do”. Let’s look at that through a different lens. You’re not bragging; you are educating members on how their investment is working. This is the key to taking a person from a skeptic citing a low budget to an advocate willing to invest in your organization’s work. Be sure that your messaging goes well beyond one topic and provides diverse value points for a diverse membership. Can everyone in your organization, staff and volunteers, tell impactful stories that made a difference to your members?
As you think about your messaging and what you’ll educate on, be sure to understand your members’ priorities and motivations. Your value points and messaging should connect with their “Why”. Consider what goals they may have so you’re better prepared to demonstrate you understand and value their interests. Go into the discussion knowing what you’re bringing to the table that they’re specifically looking for. Your track record of helping members is important to tell!
Your success is a story! Share it and see how it demonstrates the value you can and will bring to members as they become investors in your organization and their industry or community.
So, next time you hear “it’s not in the budget” use this time to learn more about the member’s priorities and take time to educate on value points that connect with this specific member.