Many of my clients schedule calls with new members to help onboard them into the membership program. These onboarding calls serve several purposes:
- To get your newest members engaged in your membership program.
- To obtain information about the member and feedback about the marketing process.
- Where appropriate, to upsell members into conferences, products, and/or higher level memberships.
There are three key steps to build a system to conduct these calls: First, when you should reach out to a new member. Second, who should conduct these calls. And finally, create a script/outline for these calls.
First, when. I recommend calling your new members within the three- to 10-day time window. This way, it’s not too early and they’ve received some materials from you and have digested them (or not). There’s likely a bit of a lull in their excitement for the membership they just joined.
Some of my larger clients send a new client survey in lieu of an outbound telephone call (this saves them from having to call every member). This way, they can get some information before they get on the phone. Plus, they are only engaging with members who have taken the first basic step — filling out a short survey about themselves and their goals.
I prefer outbound calls to all members whenever possible. Feel free to use email to invite your new member to schedule an appointment. This will cut down on calls to people who won’t call you back. Your email could begin with something as simple as, “Joe would like to schedule a call with you to get to know you, learn more about you and your needs and, based on your unique needs, let you know how to get the most from your membership.” Feel free to link to a scheduling app that allows them to book an appointment to reduce phone tag.
You’ll want to dedicate a sales person to making these calls whenever possible. It’s fine for a customer service person to reach out to confirm shipping addresses, etc. To maximize this opportunity, however, have a salesperson making these onboarding calls. While you want to help your member get the most possible value from his membership, you are also looking to foster a relationship of trust to help this new member acquire resources, attend conferences, and ascend membership to accomplish their goals more quickly.
The next step in your system is to design the call. Here’s a system for membership programs where the member is buying without a salesperson being involved in the sale. The member most often went through an online sales system and chose to join. Now that he’s become a member, this phone call is this member’s first person-to-person interaction.
I recommend you format these calls in the same way as you would a sales call outlined in the book, SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham. Your goal is to get your member to open up and to give you information about themselves. This gives you insight on what you can do to best help this member, and it gives you innovations that you can make in your new member sales process.
Start with what SPIN Selling calls “situation questions.” Invite your new member to tell you about themselves and their situation. You could begin with an open question such as, “Tell me about yourself; where are you, and what are the most important goals that you are working on?” You’ll want to ask for details wherever important. Get detailed numbers and reports so you have a clear understanding of where they are.
Next, ask the problem questions. You could ask for specific problems based around what your member has already told you, or you could ask about something in general such as, “What are the most annoying challenges you have to deal with on an ongoing basis?” You are looking for opportunities to learn what’s annoying your member the most. This gives you the chance to make recommendations.
Before you do that, however, you’ll want to ask your member implication questions. Unfortunately, this is what gets left out the most often. They are questions that explore the effects of your member’s problems. Ask questions like “What’s going to happen if you don’t fix this problem?” Explore this area with your new member to identify how much it’s costing them to deal with this problem.
Finally, ask the need-payoff questions. Ask your member to tell you how your membership program can solve their problems, and find out what the value is that they’ll receive when they implement the solution. These are very powerful questions that can help convince your member to invest time in your program.
Using the answers to these questions, you are in a position to make recommendations to your new member. Perhaps there are resources available to your member as part of the program that will solve your member’s problem. Often you have products — an event or another membership level — that’s available to help your member implement their solution more quickly. Now you have the opportunity to provide recommendations and demonstrate a return on investment for your new member.
When done properly, these calls can have a tremendous positive impact on your member and on your membership program. Your member will become more engaged, will feel heard, and will get solutions implemented more quickly. What’s more, you will get a more valuable long-term member.