Broken sales models and an anemic approach to business development is holding associations back from achieving their missions. I often hear senior executives (who shy away from the big push for revenue growth) say,
“We’re just a small nonprofit.”
This mindset often accompanies a business development and revenue growth perception that this side of the business is bad, unclean, or not mission-centric.
I want to help associations move past this mindset in 2018. “Nonprofit” is only a tax status. If you think about our business – revenue growth is one of the best ways to determine if people are interested in our value proposition and to have the resources to effectively advocate for members.
Secondly, I seek to take on the lack of sales investment head on. Associations commonly don’t have enough sales bandwidth. This possibly stems from our hesitation to ask people for revenue, but we simply do not have enough trained salespeople to generate exceptional revenue on a consistent basis. Association sales require a focused effort – and, a team who is well trained and on an ongoing basis. It often requires 50 days and between 10 and 12 contacts to close a major membership deal, which means associations need a sales team consistently recruiting; building new sponsorship opportunities; selling advertisements, and generating new exhibits for the trade show.
Finally, I want to help improve our inventory. The reality is our salespeople need new and interesting inventory to sell. For example, sponsorship prospectuses basically feature the same old things – out-of-date offerings that have been touted over the last decade. We know today’s sponsors want the opportunity to deliver content and thought leadership, but too often our offerings don’t match that desire. To be successful in this area – we need to consistently update offerings – and, sell the solutions we provide to clients.
So, we have a mindset issue, a bandwidth issue, and an inventory issue. I hope these observations don’t alarm you, but if you consider your association and some of the things that might be holding it back from achieving its mission – sales might be a big factor. And, if so, let’s take it on today.