We had a rule in my house as I was growing up that you had to *try* a spoonful of everything that was served at the dinner table. It didn’t matter how skeptical you were about whether you’d like it or not, you were expected to try it.

One day, I must have been feeling sassy because I dared to say “yuck” when a spoonful of cottage cheese was put on my plate, which was punished by a second spoonful being added.

To which I said, “yuck” again and a third spoonful was added.

As you can probably imagine, there was no way that my parents were going to convince me to like the cottage cheese by just adding more of what I already didn’t think I was going to like.

There are all sorts of factors that can influence whether we think we’re going to like a new food – how it smells, how it looks, what kind of texture it has, whether it reminds us of something that we’ve tried in the past, etc.

Prospective members bring similar preconceived notions when they are contemplating whether to join.

When I’m consulting with an organization that is struggling to attract members, it often becomes clear to me that they have attempted to solve the problem by serving “more” of what people already aren’t buying.

Instead, it’s important to gain insight into why someone might be skeptical about joining.

Typically, objections fall into 3 categories:

  1. Skepticism about whether the membership will actually deliver what is promised;
  2. Skepticism about whether they, as the member, will be able to do what’s necessary to achieve that result;
  3. Skepticism about whether there are external forces, outside the member’s control, that will prevent getting the result.

Being able to sell your membership to skeptics requires that you’ve thought through these possible objections and addressed them, ideally even before the prospective member thinks to ask.

My youngest sister loves cottage cheese. Somewhere in the five years between my “yuck” and her experience, my parents learned to anticipate the potential objection and introduce the food mixed in with fruit.

I’d love to hear about objections you tend to hear from potential members. How have you gone about addressing those preconceived ideas?

If you’d like to catch the Crowdcast that I did recently on this topic, you can go here.

Have a great rest of your week! 

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Joy Duling is Founder and CEO of The Joy of Membership.  Since 2005, Joy and her team have helped associations, trade groups and membership-based nonprofits run their programs more easily and deliver exceptional member care.

You can find FREE tools, tips and training to help you run and grow your membership organization in The Joy of Membership Help Hub.