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Probe, Don’t Preach

One of the biggest myths about membership sales (or any sales for that matter) is that success is contingent on being persuasive. In reality, “persuaders” typically place too much emphasis on the features, details, and credentials of their chamber and try to cajole prospects to invest. These reps struggle to produce because presenting information too soon leads to one-way conversations where they do most of the talking.

The very best membership reps understand that membership sales isn’t about persuasion; it’s about helping prospects resolve their problems. They understand that successful membership sales requires a deep appreciation for each prospect’s circumstances. As such, they focus on asking questions and listening.


The key is to ask targeted sales questions that probe for problems, difficulties, and dissatisfactions in areas where your chamber can help. Small businesses are generally more transactional. They join chambers with an expectation of receiving ROI related to making business connections and promoting their business. Consequently, the questions you develop for small businesses should focus on uncovering problems related to making new business connections, lead generation, brand visibility, and credibility.

Larger employers rarely get involved to gain access to resources and services designed to help them grow their business. They gain value by expanding their circle of influence and engaging in initiatives that impact the business and economic climate. They are also interested in programs that enhance the quality of life for everyone. The questions you develop for these companies require emphasis on key regional issues that affect the entire community. When applicable, you should also focus your questions on issues that may negatively or positively impact a specific company’s business operations or industry.


Prospects are more likely to invest with membership reps who understand their needs as opposed to those who provide perfect information about their chamber’s resources and services. Asking targeted sales questions creates a prospect-centric recruiting process that helps you uncover each prospect’s specific needs. Doing so prevents most objections because you’re well positioned to emphasize the specific benefits and resources that can help each prospect resolve their individual pain points.

As always, we encourage you to practice this technique, make it your own, and let us know how it goes.

Remember, we’re easy to talk to. Feel free to reach out with questions about this technique or other issues.


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