What is the ideal time to ask a prospect to join?
This is actually two questions:
- When in the cycle of relationship should I invite a prospect to join?
- When in the cycle of the year should I invite a prospect to join?
The glib answer is: “When she’s ready to say yes.”
Hopefully, the follow up question has already occurred to you: “How do I know when that is?”
The same way you know in any relationship: you have to pay attention to her behavior. Don’t ask her to join the second you first meet her. She doesn’t know you yet.
Figure out offers you can make that give her a taste of what membership is like:
- A free registration to a member-only webinar.
- Sharing a snippet of a discussion from your online community (or even giving her temporary or limited access).
- Sending her an infographic with some cool highlights from your latest member-only “State of the Industry” report.
- Giving her access to the most-read article in your magazine in 2018.
- Inviting her to sign up for your enewsletter.
And then pay attention to what offers she chooses to accept. Over time, you’ll begin to see patterns in what members who’ve just joined recently said yes to. Maybe it was a certain number of offers (“once he’s said yes three times, he’s ready to join”). Maybe it was particular offers (“if someone takes our free mini-course on the latest regulatory changes in our industry, she’s ready to join”).
You can use prospects’ behavior to determine when is the right time to pitch membership – and what to emphasize when you do.
There are also some guidelines you’ll want to follow that have to do with the cycle of the calendar year and of your membership year.
If everyone renews on the same schedule, let’s say the calendar year, there are times of the year that are good for recruitment (October – early February) and times that are not (pretty much the rest of the year, unless you offer something like an “18/17/16/15 months for the price of 12” deal over the summer and fall, because prospects aren’t going to want to pay full rate for less than full product).
You also need to pay attention to the cycle of your profession or industry.
- Are your members HVAC contractors? Don’t try to get their attention for ANYTHING in early May or early October – that’s when their customers are first turning their systems on, finding out what’s broken, and calling for help.
- Are your members CPAs? Leave them alone from January 1 to April 15 every year.
- Are your members teachers? Don’t bug them during the end of semester grading maelstrom.
- Do all the companies in your industry do inventory at the same time of year? That is NOT the time to bombard them with membership solicitations.
If you time your pitches correctly, not only will you get a better result, you’ll annoy far fewer people by pushing the relationship too fast or trying to get them to pay attention to you when they have more important things on their minds.