Tune in as JP Moery, president of The Moery Company, talks about what’s working, what’s not working, and the trends he’s seeing in association membership sales backed by data.
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Hello and welcome to JP Moery’s Association Hustle Podcast. President of The Moery Company, JP’s mission is to arm today’s associations with insight and strategy to thrive in a progressively complex and competitive business landscape. Twenty-first century associations must move forward with a little bit of hustle and revenue development at their core. Here’s JP.
It’s JP Moery, I’m glad to be with you today. I’m doing a session on the state of association sales and I’m going to specifically stay on the topic of membership.
Association membership sales but, frankly, I know I’ve got a lot of folks that are entrepreneurs and they’re in just all the types of sales. I think it’s going to apply to you too.
Here’s what I see working in the association field right now: they’re starting to be some real improvements in the value proposition and membership category modernization. You’re updating your benefits, you’re updating your services, you’re letting new entrants come into the space, you’re developing membership categories for them. Very positive. The dues levels that you’re developing better reflect the industry realities. We’re seeing a lot of organization, as an example, taking off the dues cap because their membership based on revenue is growing so much so you’re modernizing those levels. It’s a good step forward.
The other thing: there’s an improvement of membership retention and engagement.
My friends at Marketing General, their 90 percent retention rate in trade association membership is absolutely fantastic. The other thing that I think is starting to happen is we’ve got a better acceptance that business development and sales can be an accepted component of a non-profit mindset. When I got into this business a few years ago, and business development was frankly a dirty word, now it’s becoming a more accepted practice in our nonprofit organizations.
The challenges, or what is not working: chief staff executives really have an apathy toward revenue generation. They don’t want to get their hands dirty with it, yet we see some of the most successful association executives of all time be very good at raising money and they have the resources to accomplish missions. Tangible data for reasons to join, renew, engage, or drop the membership is lacking. We’re collecting information but we’re not utilizing that data to make decisions about why people are joining, why they’re being engaged, and why they’re actually not renewing.
That stuff is so critical to move forward and develop strategies to either compensate, alleviate, or take advantage of those scenarios. A lack of sales process and reporting is still in place.
Association management systems, in my experience and what I’ve heard from my clients, are not great sales CRMs. If you listen to a lot of our podcasts, we use Salesforce. It generates weekly reports, pipelines, activity. It measures the sales metrics of closed ratios, number of activities, etc. It can be very valuable.
There’s a commitment to legacy programs in your membership, regardless of whether there’s a business justification for it.
There are some member benefits and programs and services, sometimes in the affinity area, that frankly need to go away. You’re wasting your time and your energy on those projects and frankly they don’t move the needle for your members anyway. When members don’t see value in a program it actually lowers their impression of the value proposition of their membership. So, keep the things that folks are engaged with that are important and you’ll be much more successful.
Got a few data points for you. It’s taking us about 60 days to close a membership. Two years ago, it took about 67 days. We’re getting faster and we’re closing that sales cycle. Days to close by money, by the amount of the dues. It takes us about a 120 to close the membership of $20,000 and up. It takes us about 40 days to close the membership less than $3,000. It takes a little bit more time but I still think the efforts toward a higher value membership are certainly worth your time and effort. We’re closing 75% of the deals that come into our pipeline. Seventy-five percent of the prospects that come into the pipeline end up joining. That’s up from a 54% in 2016. So, we’re getting better. We’re getting faster and it’s taking fewer activities than ever before to close membership in our organizations.
Here are some trends that I see: start collecting cell phone numbers from your members so you can begin to text them at scale, segment your audience for a specific value proposition. To make it simple: your association members want a different value proposition and a different narrative than your manufacturing members do. Develop specific stories from these member segments and how you help solve problems for them. That’s going to help you sell more memberships. If you want to be really valuable to your associate members develop thought leadership sponsorships for them and that will attract more revenue and more engagement from those associate members.
Hey, I hope this has been helpful to you! I’ve enjoyed being with you today. Thanks for joining us, see you next time. Bye bye.
We hope you enjoyed this edition of JP Moery’s Association Hustle Podcast. We’d love to connect with you! Check out our blogs at www.moerycompany.com and subscribe to our weekly newsletter. You can also connect with JP on LinkedIn and Twitter @JPMoery as well as The Moery Company’s Instagram and Facebook Page. To purchase a copy of JP’s book, Association Hustle: Top Strategies for Association Growth, go to JPMoery.com.