By Karen Fleming
Low Country Sales Representative, Golf Life Navigators
In Stacey Loring Persinger’s article last month in The Tee Sheet, entitled, “Five Keys to Retaining and Growing Your Membership,” she states that “time and persistence are most often the ingredients necessary to schedule a tour or a round of golf.” Indeed, time and persistence are inherent to those playing a role in membership growth. And where does membership growth begin? It begins with a new lead. Nurturing a new lead requires a commitment to follow up.
When a candidate does not return your phone call or respond to your email, it’s easy to think ‘they must not be truly interested’ and so you move on to that endless list of “to-dos.” With 14 years in Membership at Sea Pines Country Club, I’ve been there. I understand perfectly.
But, think about it … how many times have you been curious about something online, completed a form, then ultimately ignored the follow up or opted out? It happens. Your lead might have done the same thing. Also, what if your email went into their spam folder? In that case, you thought they were not really interested in you and they’re likely thinking the exact same thing!
Hey, we’re all running in a hundred directions, and let’s face it – we’re not marketing gasoline and groceries. Golf and golf lifestyles are luxury items, often at the bottom of the priority scale for most people. So, it’s easy for your lead to push us aside for other tasks at hand, and circle back to us later.
Your best bet is to make it easy for them by reminding them. Don’t let someone who has not been responsive right away, deter you. And don’t think that you make that one call and you’ve done your job. It doesn’t work that way!
If you need new members, then you need to follow up with a new lead until you get an answer or give one. It helps to have a few systems in place to effectively follow up. I know that each club and each candidate are unique, so there is no “one size fits all” answer. So, depending on what software you use and how much personnel you have, the methods will vary. The following are a few ideas that served me well and which you may consider.
Have a standard procedure for new leads.
If it is a Golf Life Navigators’ lead with a 0-12-month timeline, stop everything and call right away! Otherwise with all new leads, I recommend that you:
- Attempt to follow up three ways – phone, email, and mail (yes, good old-fashioned mail).
- Make use of that expensive marketing collateral, especially if you haven’t reached them yet. Put something tangible in their hands that they can set aside to come across again later. Staying “top of mind” is the name of the game.
- Consider creating a standard new lead welcome email with no graphics, links or attachments to give your email the best chance of landing in their inbox. For example, I would send an email that simply read: Thank you for your interest in Sea Pines Country Club. I am sending this initial email to give it the best chance to find its way to your In Box. Subsequent emails may contain links that go into your Spam, so please be aware.
- Also, in your phone calls and voice mails, let them know that you emailed. In your emails, let them know you called. In your welcome note, let them know you called and emailed and state the contact information you have.
- If you can use email drip, immediately enroll a new lead into a drip campaign. The club newsletter is my favorite. This is a top safeguard against slipping through the cracks.
Plan to follow up at least seven times.
Yes, they inquired but you must be forceful through calls and emails to get them to pay attention. Think of how busy your life is and recognize that your lead’s life is just as busy. If we’re lucky, one out of 20 leads are ready to do business when we get them, but many, many more will be weeks, months, and even years from making a commitment.
What you know about a lead will help you determine how often you will follow up. Again, if your software permits for automated tasks, enlist it. Otherwise, schedule reminders for yourself or delegate if you can. Alternate methods of follow up.
When you make contact, get the most of it.
Learn how they like to receive information and how much follow up they are comfortable receiving. Ask for a timeline of their decision and suggest when you might call again. I used to tell my prospects that I was going to follow up until they asked me to stop. They loved that. And keep that newsletter coming – it’s likely the best piece of marketing you have.
Finally, for those candidates who are nonresponsive, have a procedure for closing the inquiry.
Let them know – again, in all three ways if possible – that you are closing their inquiry and would be happy to help should their interest recur. I learned this little tip from Pipeline Marketing out of Los Angeles, California. You would not believe how many folks will respond when you tell them (nicely) you are done with them!
There’s a reason why we call it “work.” In my experience, very few clients have made it easy on me, but so many of them thanked me for my efforts. Most people appreciate it when you don’t give up on them. It makes us all feel good to be pursued, to feel wanted, welcome.
Keep extending those invitations to tour, to try, to belong. Follow up until they say “yes” or” no” or until you close the inquiry. You may find that it provides you with a slightly greater sense of satisfaction and closure even when it isn’t a closing!