Sales is not a Dirty Word: Instilling a Sales Culture in Your Association

Oct 30, 2023

Do you believe people are better off as members?

Do you believe members are better off if they are engaging with association offerings?

If so, then an effective sales process should be regarded as critical for success.

And let’s be clear. I’m not talking about the hard-sell, high-pressure type of sales techniques that have given the function a bad name.

In associations, the sales process should be relationship-driven and highly personalised. It’s about connecting people with the solutions they need.

Of course, it also carries the added advantage that it generates revenue. And (much as we may not like to admit it) having cash is great … particularly when it comes to paying the bills.

But sales can be scary. Particularly for those who have internalised the negative stereotypes.

And this can be dangerous for an association.

Often associations with a great offering struggle to generate revenue because they lack a sales function.

High performing associations use the full range of sales pathways to maximise opportunities to deliver member solutions and drive revenue. These include: marketing automation, internal transactional salespeople, internal high-value salespeople, email, and direct mail. (Let me know if you’d like me to write an e-news covering these in more detail)

Of these, the most formidable tool remains personal sales. The more of your staff team who have the skills and motivation to engage a sales mindset, the more successful your association will be.

To do this requires establishing a relationship-driven sales culture across your entire team. Here are a few ideas to build a sales culture in your association:

  1. Provide Training: Offer training sessions that emphasise relationship-building, listening skills, and understanding customer needs. Equip your team with the tools to approach sales in a way that aligns with your association’s values.
  2. Set Clear Goals and Expectations: Create measurable goals that reflect the purpose of the association. Staff should know what’s expected of them and how it ties back to the association’s overall objectives.
  3. Connect Sales to Purpose: Clearly outline how sales connects to the positive impact your association is making on members. Shift the focus from selling products to building connections, and make sure everyone understands.
  4. Celebrate Success: Acknowledge and reward success in building relationships, not just closing deals. Recognise efforts that embody the association’s values in sales.
  5. Encourage Collaboration: Foster a collaborative environment where team members can share ideas and support each other. A collective effort often leads to more creative and effective strategies.
  6. Provide Support and Resources: Ensure that staff have the resources and support needed to succeed. Whether it’s technology, time, or guidance, having the right tools can make a significant difference.
  7. Lead by Example: Leadership should embody the sales culture you want to instil. Show genuine interest in members and their needs, communicate openly, and build relationships, setting the tone for the rest of the team.

By embracing these strategies, an association can create a sales culture that delivers greater value for members and increases revenue. It’s a strategy that requires investment in both time and mindset, but the payoff is a more engaged membership and a resilient, thriving association.

At SMS, we run in-house sales training workshops to upskill and motivate your teams. Please contact [email protected] if you’d like more information.