Make Your Member Management Software Pay for Itself

Categories: Membership Sales and Retention

By Joseph Loria, Vice President, Advisory Services

In the financial world, investments are expected to return profit and pay dividends. Do you feel the same about your member management software?  Likely not.  More disturbing, research from Forrester Group  shows that only about 33% of customer relationship management (CRM) system implementations are deemed a success. So, why do so many fail? Surprisingly, only a third of the failures are due to the technology itself. The majority is related to poor strategy, lack of business process, and people issues, including poor user adoption.

Recently, WebLink did some research into usage of our member management software, WebLink Connect. We found very high usage in areas related to the membership database, events, and finance. By contrast, we found very low usage in areas related to member sales and retention. The problem is that these latter areas are the growth areas, which can generate the revenue to not only pay for the system but also fuel the mission of your association.

Relating our findings back to Forrester’s, the usage of your membersip database, events, and finance is primarily driven by the technology. Once the technology is set up and users learn the software, they are off and running, creating members, managing events, and generating invoices.

Member sales and retention, however, heavily involve people and processes.  And per Forrester, these are the primary reasons for failure. Research from IBM Business Consulting Services states that this is a normal part of the psychology of adoption, with users being at first skeptical but then committing and engaging. Their adoption, however, plateaus, and the resulting doubt, disagreement, and disengagement erode usage unless new capabilities are proactively implemented.

WebLink illustrates this in the following graph.


The blue curve represents the normal course of adoption, in which the technology initially drives usage, but then forces erode usage as you move into areas that are driven more by people and process. Note that this is a normal pattern in the adoption of technology.

To maximize your usage benefit (the orange curve) requires a rigorous approach to people and process: a focus on strategy, process, and user adoption. In short, your system cannot be an IT project. It must be a business solution.

If you’re wondering about results, the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce devoted 2011 to a people- and process-oriented approach, and they saw a 63% increase in new member sales and an 88% increase in first-year retention.

So, what can you do to see results like that?  Be sure you are practicing the 5 keys to success:

  • Promote user adoption and acceptance
  • Focus on the underlying business processes
  • Define and track the right metrics
  • Get senior leaders visible in the initiative
  • Keep your data clean and up to date

The work is hard, but the payoff is significant. To see how WebLink can help, be sure to visit our WebLink Business Builder website to get more information on our Accelerator line of products designed to resolve the 5 keys to success and maximize your association’s revenue. Or contact me, Joseph Loria, Vice President, Advisory Services, at 877-231-4970 x102


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