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My third favorite tip…

This is the third in a series of tips from my book, Put Your Data to Work: 52 Tips and Techniques for Effectively Managing Your Database, I’ve been asked by several people which of the tips are my favorites. So this series of blog posts focuses on five of them. Each of these tips is reproduced verbatim from the book.

Tip #47 – Don’t try to gather all data at once

When selling anything, whether it’s membership joins, renewals, event registration, or product sales, 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 seen associations that, 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 it might as well collect that information now.

The first rule of a sale is to get the money. Everything else can come later. The same goes for event registration. Why can’t you 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 you need all that information right now? Can’t you get the registration and then follow up later? How many sales are you losing because you’re making the process too cumbersome?

Another recommendation: Create a follow-up opportunity with new and renewing members to collect additional demographic information as part of your first-touch follow-up. That is, after a member has joined or renewed, create an automatic process whereby the database can remind you one month after the join or renewal for staff to follow up for more demographic data. This allows you to collect the information and show the member that you’re paying attention even after the sale is made.

You can buy the book here (or here if you’re an ASAE member) in e-book or printed version.

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2 Comments on "My third favorite tip…"

Scott Oser - 15 May 2009 Reply

Wes, This is a great tip. You would not believe how many promotions I see that ask everything they can possibly ask all on one form. I firmly believe that the hardest part of marketing is making that first sale. Once you get the person into the fold you have numerous ways to get "bonus" information from them and you should take advantage of as many as you need to get the information you want. If after trying all of those methods you still don't have what you want you can always pay a database company to do an overlay on your file which will get a lot of that information for you. Scott

Wes Trochlil - 16 May 2009 Reply

Scott, I like to say that the easiest transaction has three steps: Who are you, what do you want, and how will you pay? Everything else is "bonus" information, as you put it.

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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

“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”

Jack Chiasson, CMP Executive Director
National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“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

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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