Monday, August 24, 2015

You've Got to Meet the Decision-Maker

I've been on a number of member visits lately. What are member visits? That's when I and/or a member of my association staff get out of our office and visit one of our association members in their place of business.

Invariably, these are well worth the time and expense it takes to organize and conduct them. They give us on-the-ground information about the world of our members and it facilitates greater loyalty between the member and the association.

One of the things I recently figured out on these visits is how important it is to meet the decision-maker. We're a trade association, so our members are companies, and the decision-maker is the person who decides whether or not the company in question will join and engage with our association.

Strange as it may seem, that person is not always our main contact. Sometimes they reside at an organizational level above the folks who usually interact with us. This sometimes leads to the dynamic in which our loyal contact tries to enlist our help in justifying the time and expense associated with maintaining and getting value out of association membership. They need help, in other words, convincing the boss.

So, whenever I can, I want to make sure I get face time with this decision-maker. And it's not just a chance to sell. More than anything else it is a chance to learn--learn about what really matters to the organization that has already been a member for years.

Because this decision-maker invariably wants something else from the association than the loyal contact does. Perhaps it is information. Perhaps it is prestige. Perhaps it is just the knowledge that the association to which he is sending his money knows the contours of his world and is working to make it better.

Whatever it is, it is probably something the association is already providing, but which has not been fully revealed to the decision-maker. Closing those gaps is one of the most important things I do.

+ + +

This post was written by Eric Lanke, an association executive, blogger and author. For more information, visit, follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at

Image Source

No comments:

Post a Comment