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90th Anniversary

#75: Fence-sitters

by Marcia Merrins

Dear League Leaders,
 
Selling the League to Tough People - “Fence-sitters” 
We had a membership coffee in June at a new coffee shop (incidentally operated by Literacy Volunteers to subsidize income cut by NYS). The League's "hook" was to invite community members to talk about issues that concern them. (See title below.)  The very informal presentation was on target. The chemistry was there. One prospect’s reaction to the League and the cost ($60 PMP) both seemed positive. But when the time came for signatures, the meeting ended with the prospect saying, "Everything sounds good, I'll and get back to you." The membership team sent the appropriate materials and followed up with a phone call.
Weeks go by. And as you fail to get a decision, you slowly change their status in from "blazing hot" to "warm" to “cool” and then finally to "whatever." Fence-sitters are among the most frustrating "tough customer" types to deal with.

There are four types of fence-sitters -- each with a different underlying issue. They are The Internally Conflicted, The People Pleasers, The Dissatisfied, and The Future Members Who Just Need More Time.
 
Here are some thoughts on how to handle them:
 
The Internally Conflicted - With these people, there’s some kind of internal debate...perhaps with a family member who may not agree with some League positions or they may have limited income. If you pick up these clues, your goal is to uncover the internal debate and then provide ideas, compromises, or solutions to get them all on the same page - your page.

The People Pleasers - Often, the real reason someone leaves you in limbo is because they don’t want to deliver the bad news that they want to join but they nervously hem and haw when you ask if they’ve made a decision. Stay in touch by putting them on your email bulletin list and move on.
 
The Dissatisfied
- After meeting with you, the prospect isn’t really excited about any of the ways they could be involved within the League. They haven’t given you a “No” yet because they’re still looking around. Keep and touch and keep sending them timely tidbits. If you’re lucky enough to get them on the phone or get an email reply, they often give the indifferent response “yeah, I'm still considering the League.” There may still be opportunity with this fence-sitter type, but you haven’t provided enough value yet. Get creative with your ideas.
 
The Future Member Who Just Need More Time
- When they said, “Sounds good” they meant it. They’re actively putting things in motion to join (i.e. retirement in a few months, kids to young, etc.) . Keep the dialogue flowing. Ask them questions. Continue to build the relationship. Include them on your next email blast. Be patient.
 
Warmly,
Marcia
 
Marcia A. Merrins
LWVUS Board of Directors
Trainings and Meetings Chair
716-672-4275 Home
716-672-5472 Fax
mmerrins@netsync.net
 
PS  Title for Membership Coffee: "Redistricting? Economy? Consolidation? What Concerns You? The League of Women Voters Wants to Know!  Join Us for Coffee and Conversation"

Read more (222 comments)

#74: Remember the Magic 8 Ball?

by Marcia Merrins

Dear League Leaders,
 
You can be kissing League membership or contribution checks because by learning the power of making the "ASK". Most people don't get new members because they never ask, or even worse, they never ask anything, period.

When you ask a question, you throw the ball to the other player - your member prospect - you get them involved. Question after question, you lead them down the field, first down, second down, first down until you've got a TOUCHDOWN (enter end-zone dance here)!

The questions you ask put you in position to make a League friend. How do you know what your member/contributor prospect  needs? Wants? Thinks? Believes in? How do you know what their past experiences have been? What they find of value? Are you assuming, or asking?

As an "asker", the best feeling in the world is to have someone smile and say, "That's a great question." AH, success! That's what asking questionsis all about. It's about asking relevant and powerful questions that get your prospects to smile and then reveal something about themselves, their needs, wants, thoughts, beliefs, past experiences or what they find of value.

Doing this doesn't happen overnight. It takes preparation and practice. It also requires that you put into action what you already know.

Here's how to be a  "asker":

1. Ask open-ended questions. I'm not telling you something new; I'm just repeating something that the majority of people still don't do! Break the bad habit of asking questions that allow your prospect to reply with a simple yes or no. If they don't have to think about their answer, you haven't asked a good question.

2. Prepare questions before hand. Spend time creating questions before you meet with your prospect. Asking relevant and powerful questions doesn't just happen. You have to put some work into it.  You'll be amazed at how differently the conversation goes when you arrive prepared, with not just knowledge about the prospect but, with questions too.

3. Get them thinking. If it's a question you've heard everyone and their Grandma ask, then don't ask it. Think outside the Magic 8 ball (where you only get yes or no or maybe answers) and be forward thinking.  Be thought provoking, relevant, and creative to move forward.

4. Ask for their support. This should be the easiest on the list but usually it's the one that people fear the most - the fear of rejection.  You'll never get anywhere if you don't ASK! What's the worst that can happen?
 
Warmly,
Marcia

Read more (119 comments)

#73: A Message from Rudyard Kipling

by Marcia Merrins

Dear League Leaders

Council 2011 was well focused  as leaders thought through the challenges as they set goals for their state leagues.  This exercise served as a springboard for ideas. Change, adapt, add, or delete as necessary for your League. Get your creative juices going! 

I keep six honest serving men

(They taught me all I knew)

Their names are What, and Why and When

and How and Where and Who.

-by Rudyard Kipling, “Six Honest Serving Men” from the “Elephant’s Child”

 

IDEA  SPURRING QUESTIONS

1. WHO

  • What can help or make contributions?
  • Who must I “sell” on this idea?
  • Who can help me get additional resources?
  • Who will benefit?


2.  WHAT

  • What do I need in the way of additional resources?
  • What techniques or methods can I use?
  • What is the best way? The first step?
  • What will make the idea better?


3.  WHERE  

  • Where should I start?
  • Where is resistance likely to be found?
  • Where should I “plant seeds”?


4.  WHEN  

  • When should I introduce the plan?
  • When should we implement the ideas?
  • When should we revise our strategy?


5.  WHY  

  • Why should they buy this idea?
  • Why is this way better?
  • Why is the resistance so strong?


6.  HOW

  • How can we improve the idea?
  • How can we “test the waters”?
  • How can I persuade centers of influence?

 

Warmly,

Marcia

Read more (224 comments)

#72: Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You...

by Marcia Merrins

Dear League Leaders,

On any team, one of the most difficult, yet important, steps is to become acquainted with other board members. Even if many of you have served together on your League board of directors for years, I am sure most Leagues have a few newbies. Even if you don't, on your retreat or board orientation take a few minutes to get to know a bit more about each other!

To make the job of introducing yourself a little easier, take a few minutes and consider the following statements. You can scribble some thoughts and ideas.

Who am I?______________________________________________________________

Money, time, and responsibility aside, I would rather be doing___________________________________more than anything else.

If I were going to a costume party,  I would dress as a _________________________because________________.

What I value most is:_______________________________________________________

What motivates me is:______________________________________________________

What I like most about the League is ___________________________________________

What I like least about the League is:___________________________________________

Most of all, have a bit of fun with this!


Warmly,
Marcia

Read more (66 comments)

#70: How Does Your League Rate?

Dear League Leaders,

What a great day...finally, the sun has started shining and everything has been blooming so beautifully. It revives and gives the promise of new beginnings.

The League also renews itself annually – with new leadership, new studies and new directions. Yay for Conventions! I hope to see many state delegates at our Council in June so we can get charged and recharged together!

I do know that Leagues are always asking about how to get new members. Here are a few areas to consider that may pinpoint challenges in your League.

Warmly,

Marcia

Marcia A. Merrins
LWVUS Board of Directors
Trainings and Meetings Chair
716-672-4275
mmerrins@netsync.net

716-672-5472 FAX

 

Tip #1 - Don't be "other centered."

If you are finding it difficult to recruit and retain members to your League, ask why? What is it about your League that makes it unappealing?

 

We have a tendency to look externally for the reasons, ie. "Everyone is too busy" or "he/she needs to spend more with their family " which may be true. However, if you find these reasons used often, I would challenge you to take a look INTERNALLY as well.

Remember, people join motivated organizations. What makes up a motivated organization? Motivated organizations know what they want; they have goals, a vision, and an action plan. When is the last time you evaluated your League? Ask your current members to evaluate your League in the following areas to better understand where your are strong and where more attention needs to directed.

* Is our community a better place because the League has a presence?
* Internal communication and visibility.
* Growth and development opportunities.
* Member participation.
* Recognition.

Tip #2 - Recruitment is an on-going process - It isn't something that you only do in the summer and fall. If  you co-sponsor or collaborate on a program with another group or participate in a community service opportunity, that is a recruitment and image development opportunity. Use those opportunities to educate people about your League. All members should be prepared to answer the question, "tell me about the League, what do you do?" Can your current members do that and is the message consistent?

Just like companies - work to make your organizations name a house hold word. Remember also, lots of people are often members of more than one group so this effort may have positive recruitment affects.   Don't miss the opportunity to "sell" your League.

Tip #3 - Make sure your group is worth the time to join
If I'm a new member, is there something I can do that can give me a sense of accomplishment? Is the only way to actually be "active" in your League is to be an officer?

A common complaint I hear from younger members is besides going to meetings there is nothing for general members to do unless you decide to stick with the organization and become an officer. Does that sound like fun to you? Empower your members, give them responsibility and the opportunity to practice their leadership skills. This not only will increase their confidence level but will also make them more experienced leaders in the future.

Tip #4 - Create a positive and welcoming environment
Know your members names; know your members needs; personal contact is key - email is great and it's easy but if you really want to keep your members and show that you value them - you must work toward more personal contact. Does your exec board know people's names? If you are saying there are just too many members then it is even more important to have personal contact. Members want to feel important and that they are appreciated. By knowing your members, it shows that you care and that this person matters to you regardless of the importance of their job.

Structure your meetings so everyone feels comfortable. When discussing issues or brainstorming allow for individual reflection and group discussion in order to accommodate the different processing styles of introverts and extroverts.  

If the age of your members varies greatly, keep in mind that their needs will be very different and discuss how your League can work to meet those needs.

Lastly, create an environment where members are secure with sharing their opinion even when it differs from the leadership or with the majority opinion. Disagreements and conflicts if handled in a professional and respectful way make you stronger. Strive to have a very diverse membership base. Different perspectives, experiences, and life styles will make the League stronger as long as everyone is working toward the same vision and working toward accomplishing the same goals.

Tip #5 - Recruitment is not one person's job
Although one person may need to coordinate efforts, EVERYONE should be responsible for maintaining and sustaining membership. Your recruitment campaign should include specific techniques and tasks to be accomplished, a timeline, and an indication of who will be responsible for completing each task.

Read more (228 comments)

#71: Stop! Look! Listen!

by Marcia Merrins

Dear League Leaders,

There are things we know for sure are going to happen. Winter turns to spring (finally),  to summer, to fall, to winter.   There are  biological, weather cycles that allow you to accurately anticipate the future. You understand cyclical change and use it often, even if you are not aware of it. There are also League cycles which are highly predictable.

There is another kind of change that is not cyclical. For example,if you are using a cell phone or portable phone, you will not go back to a rotary dial.   No! This is non-cyclical change that has a profound impact.  Think about how this one fact has changed the way we run Leagues.

Knowing this, what if you could predict the challenges your League will face and stop them from occurring? Impossible? Hardly. You can solve tomorrow’s problems…today. You simply have to know what you’re certain about. 


Stop, Look, Listen

Stop: As change accelerates, the tendency is to work faster. But rather than speed up, we need to slow down, stop, and think. Put aside all your problems temporarily. Make the decision to devote some time, on a regular basis, to become anticipatory.

Look: Make a list of cyclical and non-cyclical changes you know about. What are the problems you are not having today, but will have in the next three to six months? The next one to three years? Those are the problems you need to solve. To get ahead of the curve, shift your focus from solving today’s problems to solving tomorrow’s problems before they happen.

Listen: What is certainty telling you about those future problems and ways to approach them? Listen to clues lying just outside your range of vision. As you learn more about how to use certainty and foresight, solutions will appear almost instantly.

When I talk with League leaders about becoming anticipatory, they often say, "That sounds fascinating—but we don’t have time to think about the future. We’re too busy dealing with today!" Of course they’re busy. We’re all busy. There will never be a time when we’re not busy—which is why we keep flailing about in our uncertainties.

Nobody has time to explore the future. The only way it will happen is if you make time for it. You will find it to be time well spent!

 

Warmly,

Marcia

Marcia A. Merrins
LWVUS Board of Directors
Trainings and Meetings Chair
716-672-4275
mmerrins@netsync.net

716-672-5472 FAX

Read more (74 comments)

#70: How Does Your League Rate?

by Marcia Merrins

Dear League Leaders,

What a great day...finally, the sun has started shining and everything has been blooming so beautifully. It revives and gives the promise of new beginnings.

The League also renews itself annually – with new leadership, new studies and new directions. Yay for Conventions! I hope to see many state delegates at our Council in June so we can get charged and recharged together!

I do know that Leagues are always asking about how to get new members. Here are a few areas to consider that may pinpoint challenges in your League.

Warmly,

Marcia

Marcia A. Merrins
LWVUS Board of Directors
Trainings and Meetings Chair
716-672-4275
mmerrins@netsync.net

716-672-5472 FAX

 

Tip #1 - Don't be "other centered."

If you are finding it difficult to recruit and retain members to your League, ask why? What is it about your League that makes it unappealing?

 

We have a tendency to look externally for the reasons, ie. "Everyone is too busy" or "he/she needs to spend more with their family " which may be true. However, if you find these reasons used often, I would challenge you to take a look INTERNALLY as well.

Remember, people join motivated organizations. What makes up a motivated organization? Motivated organizations know what they want; they have goals, a vision, and an action plan. When is the last time you evaluated your League? Ask your current members to evaluate your League in the following areas to better understand where your are strong and where more attention needs to directed.

* Is our community a better place because the League has a presence?
* Internal communication and visibility.
* Growth and development opportunities.
* Member participation.
* Recognition.

Tip #2 - Recruitment is an on-going process - It isn't something that you only do in the summer and fall. If  you co-sponsor or collaborate on a program with another group or participate in a community service opportunity, that is a recruitment and image development opportunity. Use those opportunities to educate people about your League. All members should be prepared to answer the question, "tell me about the League, what do you do?" Can your current members do that and is the message consistent?

Just like companies - work to make your organizations name a house hold word. Remember also, lots of people are often members of more than one group so this effort may have positive recruitment affects.   Don't miss the opportunity to "sell" your League.

Tip #3 - Make sure your group is worth the time to join
If I'm a new member, is there something I can do that can give me a sense of accomplishment? Is the only way to actually be "active" in your League is to be an officer?

A common complaint I hear from younger members is besides going to meetings there is nothing for general members to do unless you decide to stick with the organization and become an officer. Does that sound like fun to you? Empower your members, give them responsibility and the opportunity to practice their leadership skills. This not only will increase their confidence level but will also make them more experienced leaders in the future.

Tip #4 - Create a positive and welcoming environment
Know your members names; know your members needs; personal contact is key - email is great and it's easy but if you really want to keep your members and show that you value them - you must work toward more personal contact. Does your exec board know people's names? If you are saying there are just too many members then it is even more important to have personal contact. Members want to feel important and that they are appreciated. By knowing your members, it shows that you care and that this person matters to you regardless of the importance of their job.

Structure your meetings so everyone feels comfortable. When discussing issues or brainstorming allow for individual reflection and group discussion in order to accommodate the different processing styles of introverts and extroverts.  

If the age of your members varies greatly, keep in mind that their needs will be very different and discuss how your League can work to meet those needs.

Lastly, create an environment where members are secure with sharing their opinion even when it differs from the leadership or with the majority opinion. Disagreements and conflicts if handled in a professional and respectful way make you stronger. Strive to have a very diverse membership base. Different perspectives, experiences, and life styles will make the League stronger as long as everyone is working toward the same vision and working toward accomplishing the same goals.

Tip #5 - Recruitment is not one person's job
Although one person may need to coordinate efforts, EVERYONE should be responsible for maintaining and sustaining membership. Your recruitment campaign should include specific techniques and tasks to be accomplished, a timeline, and an indication of who will be responsible for completing each task.

Read more (70 comments)

#67: Are you Listening?

by Marcia Merrins

Dear League Leaders,

 What is the best way to show a prospective League member that you are listening? Choose one. No peeking!

A. Ask questions about what you heard in their dialogue.

B. Take notes.

C. Give an opinion about what you heard in their conversation.

D. Repeat what you heard in the form of a statement or question.

The wisdom behind the answer: Taking notes (b) ensures two things: 1) That you will remember what the person has told you, and 2) That their words are important enough to write down. Taking notes shows respect. Asking questions (a) will lead to the answers, but if you do not write them down the answers will be lost or forgotten. Giving an opinion (c) does not reflect listening. The object of listening is to listen with the intent to understand, not respond. Repeating what you heard or regurgitating a question from a statement (d), makes you a good parrot, but not necessarily a good listener. Taking notes shows the prospect that you care about him or her and makes them feel important as you write down their words.

 

Warmly,

Marcia

 

Marcia A. Merrins

LWVUS Board of Directors

Trainings and Meetings Chair

716-672-4275

mmerrins@netsync.net

716-672-5472 FAX

Read more (77 comments)

#68: Goal Setting

Read more (178 comments)

#66 - "I Don't Have the Time."

Dear League Leaders,

A while ago I sent  a Membership Moment about how to reply to an array of excuses. Here is another approach.

To help you be prepared for the “I don’t have the time” brush off, look at these scripts below and perhaps they may help you when you get this objection especially during a phone call:

Response #1:
“I know that feeling; my desk is full of things I need to do, too. I’d be happy to schedule a time to call you back, but I don’t want to bother you if you’re really not interested. Let me ask you a quick question and be honest with me:

If NO: “No problem. Before I go, who else do you know that might like to join (participate/support) us?

If Yes: “Terrific. Do you have five minutes right now?”

If No: “I’m looking at my schedule, what is a good time later today?”

Response #2:
“Elisabeth, you probably get a lot of calls like I do, and my initial reaction is to say I’m too busy as well. But I can explain this to you in just three minutes and if you think it can help you we can schedule more time later.

Response #3:
“I’m with you. Before I schedule a time to get back with you, just a quick question: Are your concerned about money in elections?

Response #4:
“I’m glad you’re busy, that means that you don’t have the time to just waste doing things you . Quick question: If I could show you some personal benefits of joining/supporting the League, is that something that you would invest five minutes learning more about?”

Response #5:
“No problem. I know what it’s like to be interrupted. Would it be better to call you back right after your _________________, say in about a half hour, or would you prefer to set up a quick five minute call for tomorrow morning?”

Can you see how much more effective you can be by being prepared with and using these kinds of scripts? 

Warmly,

Marcia

Marcia A. Merrins
LWVUS Board of Directors
Trainings and Meetings Chair
716-672-4275
mmerrins@netsync.net


716-672-5472 FAX

Read more (324 comments)


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