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.