As I talk with Toastmaster club presidents throughout District 42, I’m often asked how to convert guests to members. The short answer is… ASK THEM TO JOIN, or follow-up with them If they’re not ready to join at the first meeting.
Many sales people struggle because they have not learned to ask for the order. Often they can give a dynamic sales presentation but freeze when it comes time to ask the prospect to buy what they’re selling. An even bigger mistake is failing to follow-up after asking for the order.
When a Toastmaster club is not converting guests to members often it’s because they are not asking their guests to join. We can make them feel welcome and at ease, we can wow them with a fun-filled well run meeting, but it means nothing if we fail to ask him or her to join the club.
Why do we get sweaty palms when it comes time to “ask for the order”? We’re not selling burial plans here! We’re members of an organization that provides positive change in people’s lives, why wouldn’t we want everyone to take advantage of the opportunity?
Not every guest is ready to join after their first meeting. Some need to attend 2-3 meetings before they make the decision. Heck, some may take months or years to finally decide they need Toastmasters.
In order to become a club that converts guests to members there must be a way to maintain contact with guests. It amazes me how many low member clubs don’t even get contact information from their guests. At the first visit you must get the guest’s name, address, telephone number and email address. Toastmasters provides a guest card that’s ideally suited for this purpose.
Unless he or she signs a membership application at the first meeting, you’ve got to maintain contact with the guest. Timely follow-up contacts with a guest are crucial.
Each club is a little different, some follow-up the guest’s visit with a hand written thank you card signed by the President or the Vice President, Membership. Then after a few days, the club President makes a telephone call to the guest thanking them for their visit and inviting them to the next meeting. This is a powerful technique. It demonstrates that the club cares about each person that visits. (Does your club care?)
How many contacts should you have with a guest? There is no magical formula here. Personally, I like three “high-touch contacts. The personal contact at the meeting, the follow-up thank you card, and a telephone call from the club President or Vice-President Membership. Three quality contacts should help the prospective member decide whether your club is right for them.
In sales they say “The answer is no from 100% of the people you don’t ask”.
When trying to build membership in a Toastmasters club, you have a greater chance of success if you’ll ask guests to join and follow-up with the ones who might need a little more time.