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Collect as little data as possible (when selling)
24 July 2008, by , in Data Management, 1 comment

Yes, you read that right. When selling anything online, whether it’s membership joins, renewals, event registration, or product sales, you should collect as LITTLE information as possible. What I mean by this is that your sales process should be as simple as possible and present as few hurdles as possible to making the sale.

Too many organizations believe that while they’re asking for the sale, they should just go ahead and ask for some additional information. For example, I’ve worked with associations which, as part of the membership application process, ask for dozens of demographics data points (e.g., size of organization, focus of work, etc.) that are not relevant to whether or not the buyer can become a member. In other words, the association would accept the organization as a member regardless of what the answers to these questions were. But the association figures they might as well collect that information now, while they’ve got the potential member online.

I think that’s a mistake.

The first rule of a sale is to get the money. Everything else can come later. As I always tell my clients, the ideal sale is when a customer says “I want that,” and you say “Here you go,” and they pay. If you really need to gather that other information, gather it later, once the organization or individual is already a member.

The same goes for event registration. Why can’t we take the event registration now, and then follow up with questions about dietary needs, physical limitations, and free events? Other than things they need to pay for (e.g., primary registration and ticketed events), why do we need all that information right now? Can’t we get the registration and then follow up later? How many sales are we losing because we’re making the process too cumbersome?

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1 Comment on "Collect as little data as possible (when selling)"

Jacqui Olkin - 19 January 2011 Reply

AMEN! Never get in the way of people who want to spend money with your organization (or donate)! This happens way too much.

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“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

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Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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