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Building an Association Sales Funnel that Works

Posted By Paul Hanscom, CAE, Tuesday, September 15, 2015

There are myriad sales models designed to build sales revenue in a for-profit company. Association professionals are left to draw parallels for themselves based on these models and what they assume to be applicable. Following is a step-by-step model specifically designed for building and working your association sales funnel. 

Create Awareness – Get the word out about your association to all of the stakeholders in your field of practice. To learn more about finding and assessing stakeholder groups, read this article published by ASAE about association stakeholder analysis.

Build Engagement – Engaged stakeholders are often already members of the association community. They are volunteers, authors, commentators, speakers, and tuned-in consumers of the information your association has to offer. Engage your sales prospects so they have a direct relationship with your organization and care about its success. To learn more about engaging stakeholders, watch this online presentation.

Start the Dialogue – When you are ready to begin a sponsorship campaign, start your sales conversation with the potential sponsors and advertisers that are already engaged in the association. They will be most receptive to you and can help you position the opportunities most effectively. This will be tremendously valuable when approaching potential sponsors/advertisers that are not yet fully engaged.

Set Expectations – When securing agreement from a sponsor, make sure there is mutual clarity about the exchange of resources and benefits offered. Clear expectations, in writing, that you revisit regularly, will go a long way to ensuring your sponsor and association leadership are happy with the relationship.

Exceed Expectations – Everyone likes getting a little something extra and your sponsors, exhibitors and members are no different. If sponsors get what they pay for then their sponsorship is like the thousands of other transaction they make throughout the year. Surprise your sponsors and advertisers. Make sure they feel like they are getting something more than they expect when they sign up to support you.

Nurture the Relationship – Make sure conversation with your sponsors and advertisers continues over time. Ask for their feedback and ideas on how the association can improve the way it builds connection all year between members, sponsors, and key stakeholder groups.  To learn about how to build and grow a nurturing sponsorship program, read this e-book on maximizing sponsor value.





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