I’m Not Interested – Overcoming Prospecting Roadblocks

Here are my notes from a great session I listened to recently led by Doug Holman with 
Holman Brothers.
He started out by saying if you want to get more members, you need to make calls.  I would add be focused, consistent and intentional.
Who & Why?

Identify the businesses to go after to join as members.  They will join if they see an advantage to joining your chamber if you can solve their problems  He talked about how small businesses need growth, visibility and credibility.  Large businesses need access, influence and resources.  As the chamber, you have the answers to all three for each category.
Tailor your pitch to each prospect (i.e., small business pitch vs big business pitch).  Do your research prior to the call.  Find a hook for each prospective business.
Prospect roadblocks are not rejections.  He mentioned the three most common roadblocks:
  1. Can you send me some information - find out what they may want out of a membership.  Ask them what keeps them up at night in their business.  This will help in your follow-up email confirmation.  And don’t forget to set-up that follow-up call to discuss the information you’ve sent.  Make the communication about them.
  2. Is this about joining the Chamber - don’t take these as negative comments.  Find out what they really mean.  Tell the truth that yes ultimately we’d like you to join but first let’s find out if we have a fit!
  3. I’m not interested - is this a reaction or a conclusion?  You might respond by saying “no problem, the chamber is not a fit for everybody.”  And then ask “do you mind if I ask one question before I let you go?”  "What is it about the chamber that has you convinced that you would never join?"
Remember, not every business is a fit for being a member.  But your job is to find the ones that will benefit from joining your chamber.
Stay focused, consistent and intentional in your membership recruitment campaigns, and then get on the phone!

Defining Your Relevance Through Advocacy

This blog post is based on a recent webinar I attended, led by Todd Murphy, former President of the 
Jefferson Chamber, Greater New Orleans region, Louisiana.
He started out by making the following statements:

How do you define your relevance?  Networking, educational events, annual festival or something seasonal?  What about advocacy?
He stated the phrase you’re familiar with “if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”
And he talked about some rules:  stick to policy over politics.  PAC’s are political.  You must support your business members.
He then went on to discuss defining your parameters.  They have a government committee to vet issues and then the board can approve.  What are your issues?  They will be different in every community.
He used the phrase – "think big but stay in your zone."
Be proactive vs reactive.  Build partnerships with your regional chamber, state chamber, U.S. Chamber and relevant associations (Realtors, Home Builders to name a few).  Host a quarterly meeting with your partners on issues of the day.  Bottom line, be part of the conversation to access their expertise.
As a chamber person, lead!  He talked about the idea of “get in the middle” on the issues that affect your members (permit issues, broadband, etc.).  Think infrastructure issues (roads, bridges, water, etc.).
He then pivoted to communication.
Internally:  You must educate and then advocate.  Keep your members informed through all communication vehicles.  Use committees, forums and panels to educate and get buy-in from your members.
Externally:  Communicate with your elected officials about the issues that are affecting your small business members.  These communications can either be public or private.  The key is to have an ongoing conversation with your elected officials.  Build a partnership.  You want to be in a place where they contact you to find out where the chamber stands on a specific issue.  You are never going to always agree with your elected officials.
Your relevance raises your revenue.  Think about that!  Business CEO’s will pay for your advocacy efforts.  Design sponsorships for your advocacy programs and ask a member to sponsor!
For a separate blog post on relevance go HERE.