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Selling To Retain: Start At The Top

For chambers of commerce, retention is every bit as important as recruitment.  You want to close that revolving door of members in – members out.

One surefire way to do this is by being more selective when prospecting. Last week, we talked about shifting your recruitment focus from micropreneurs to larger businesses with five or more employees. Now, let’s talk about how you approach those larger businesses to not only close the sale, but to also set the stage for a long-term membership.


One of the best ways to set your chamber up for retention success is to start member conversations at the top level of your prospects’ organizations – the owner.

To help you understand why, let’s take a look at a hypothetical prospect – a 10-person office equipment company. On staff are the owner, an operations manager, a marketing manager, three technicians, three salespeople and a receptionist.

Now – think about what your chamber may or may not have to offer each of their employees.

The marketing manager is going to see some value in gaining more visibility for the company through the chamber network as well as that unspoken credibility gained by being a member of their local chamber.

The operations manager might see value in some of the professional development and educational offerings, as well as any cost-savings programs that you may have.

The technicians and the receptionist are probably not going to engage much in a chamber membership. But the salespeople, they are going to be excited about any lead-generating opportunities.


You’ve got a lot to work with – and several avenues to pursue.

Having multiple touchpoints within an organization is an advantage for retention. But we think the best way to leverage that is from the top down.

While it may be easy to close the sale with one of these team members, you need to keep in mind that they would make a membership decision through the narrow focus of their individual needs. If they fail to see value or happen to leave the company before renewal time, their membership will likely lapse.

On the other hand, if you initiate your membership conversation directly with the owner, he or she may be attracted to your chamber’s advocacy and small business support services, but they will also see significant value in the aspects of chamber membership that will benefit the rest of their team.

Once they are sold, they can help you get the others engaged.

When you educate the owner on the resources and programs that can be of value across their organization, you increase your probability of closing the sale. And once you have connected with those multiple touchpoints and those team members start accessing the components of membership relevant to their roles, the opportunity to retain the business’ membership for the long haul increases exponentially.

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