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MEMBERSHIP SELLING AND
SALES MANAGEMENT INSIGHTS

Communicating With Your Members During A Pandemic

Just two months ago, we could never have guessed that today we would be posting an article with the above title, but here we are.

It’s a strange and scary time. And as uncertain as you may be about what the coming weeks will bring, you can bet that your members are feeling even more on edge.

Some of them are still operating. In some cases, they are operating at more than full capacity as they try to keep up with unprecedented demand for their products or services. All the while, they are trying to balance the health and safety of their employees.

Others have been forced to shut their doors for an unknown period of time, laying off workers or using cash reserves to keep their staff on the payroll as long as they can through this crisis.

CHAMBERS ARE RISING TO THE OCCASION

It’s never been more important to be reaching out to members than it is now, and we know you have been.

We’ve spoken with chambers all across the country, and we’ve discovered that you are rising to the occasion, doing just what we (and your members) would expect you to do.

You’re putting members first. You’re compiling resources to help them weather this storm. You’re personally fielding questions from members in need and running down the answers, or getting them connected to other sources that can help.

You’re doing a great job. And while you are juggling all of that, we also know that you are as concerned and uncertain as everyone else.

GO BACK TO THE BASICS

You may be wondering if you are saying and doing the right things.

The fact is, none of us really know what we should be doing. It’s new territory. But in times of uncertainty, we think it’s a good practice to go back to the basics.  

It’s time to go old-school. And if you and your team are willing to put in the effort, it will make a significant difference in the way your members view your chamber of commerce, now, and on the other side of this crisis.

We want you to pick up the phone and call your members - every one of them. You may be thinking – guys, that’s a lot of calls. Yes, we realize that. But we still think you should do it.

Here’s why. Right now your members are being inundated with COVID-19 related email. Much of it arrives as superfluous gestures of comfort, sent by well-meaning corporate PR departments – nice, but useless.

They are also hearing from the opportunists who are trying to profit during difficult times.

In either case, like you, they are relying less and less on what arrives via email.

MAKE COMMUNICATION PERSONAL & PURPOSEFUL

Right now, a personal call from the chamber will mean something.

But you have to do it right, and with purpose. It’s no time to sell, or try to collect on a past due membership (more on that in next week’s tip).

It’s a time to check in with your members to see how they’re doing, and extend an offer to help in whatever way you can.

Ask them how they are holding up. Listen to what they have to say.

Be ready to assume the role of part-counselor, part-chamber staff, part-resources specialist, and full-time friend of their business.

Remember that everyone is scared, confused and uncertain of what the future holds. They don’t know what to do or who to turn to. Be the organization and the people they can lean on.

Take them to your website to walk them through the resources that you’ve always had in place, and those that you have created or compiled specifically to help them during this crisis.

On some calls, you may just need to be an empathetic ear as they express their concerns and talk through their fears.

Understand that you will likely be leaving a lot of voicemails. If you are in a “shelter-in-place” area, be sure to leave your cell or home number where you can be reached. If you don’t hear back from the member, follow up a few days later with an email, and another call a few days after that.

WHY IT'S WORTH THE EFFORT

Three things are going to happen when you personally reach out to each and every chamber member.

1. You will be demonstrating to your members that they matter. And, in the midst of a major crisis, they are the top priority for the chamber.

2. You will have the opportunity to reinforce that your chamber is more than mixers and monthly breakfasts.

3. You will be reinforcing the chamber's role as a leader in the recovery process for businesses and the community when that time comes.

This uncertain moment in time is presenting you with an opportunity to show your members what your chamber is made of.  Split the member list among your sales team.  Coordinate your message and talk through how to handle the calls. Then, take the time and make the calls. 

Remember, we’re easy to talk to, and we want to help. Feel free to reach out with questions or if you just need a friendly sounding board. We'll get through this together.

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