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How to Discover your Member’s Desired Outcome

Memberships Matter – Make the most of Your Membership Program.

Member Success is when your member achieves their Desired Outcome through their interactions with your organization.

Desired Outcome = Required Outcome + Appropriate Experience.

Each member segment will have its own Appropriate Experience (AX) – even if they share the same Required Outcome (RO) – and this will tell you the type and level of support (humans – required skills, characteristics, etc. – plus technology).

Discovering your member’s Desired Outcome takes a process of multiple steps, and it starts as soon as they become a member prospect– part of their screening for membership if you will.

YES, you should be interviewing them to make sure that they are a good fit for your organization.  Just because they called and inquired or visited your website and read your membership page, or they submitted an application for membership, doesn’t mean they are a good candidate for membership!

You can actually have members that are a bad fit. They don’t really understand what you do for them, they think your resources do something that they were never really intended to do (there may be a better option for them – in your toolbox, or in your competitor’s!), They will just be a problem from day-one and suck time, energy and resources out of your staff – honestly, they are almost always lowest tier-level dues payers, and are not worth the few hundred dollars they’re paying annually for all the trouble they create when you try to help the un-helpable. Remember – You get to CHOOSE your members.

Asking the Right Questions

“How do you go about knowing the Desired Outcome of your member?”

Desired Outcome is made up of two pieces. One piece is Required Outcome (RO) – that’s the business’ goal. It’s the thing your member needs to achieve, the thing they are trying to accomplish; and helping them achieve that is why you exist in their world. It’s what gets you in the game. If you can’t help them achieve their Required Outcome, then you’re not what they need, and they aren’t a good fit for you.

“What is it that you are trying to accomplish, and how do you feel we can help you do that?”

This is the question to ask them first. Let them tell you why they feel they need to be a member of your organization; what resources you have that they believe will solve their problem, fix their issue, meet their specific business needs.

Required Outcome is relatively easy to understand. It’s why you have the resources that you do for your members.

RO is easy to grasp. Most organizations like yours get this from the outset. The second piece is Appropriate Experience (AX).

It’s the Appropriate Experience part that most people have problems with, not simply when they start doing this process, but often in simply wrapping their brains around the concept in the first place.

What AX requires you to do is to really get to know the member.

There is not going to be one question that you ask a member and – magically – you will know what their Appropriate Experience is.

You’re going to have to talk to them. Ask them these questions. Don’t ask them what their Appropriate Experience is but ask them:

“What do you expect would be the outcome of joining our organization or using our resource(s)?”

“What would it take in order for you to be successful?”

“What is it you hope that we (or, our resource) can accomplish for you?”

You’re going to have to take those questions and really make them your own for your situation but start looking at adjacent products that are similar to the one they are looking at and decide together if it is the right solution for their need.

You could look at competitive products as well, ones that may not be yours, but from a competitor, because even by not having them join, but by finding them a solution or at least pointing them in the right direction, it’s going to help them and you in the long run.

Asking these types of questions is going to give you some baseline. You can ask questions of your members like, “Are you happy with those resources? Are they providing the outcome you had hoped for, or not?” And then listen to their answer. Let them talk and listen for things – good and bad – that aren’t necessarily about the product but are about the overall experience.

That will start a conversation, which is what you want.

“This particular resource is not meeting the expectation of our member and our member is saying that that’s not appropriate.”

We can start to ascertain some things from that. It’s observing. Go spend some time with your members actually onsite. When was the last time you shadowed – not just visited for a meeting – a member? You actually saw them using your product or saw them doing their job. There’s a whole bunch of things that you can do. It’s a discovery process, not a dictation process.

In other words, you’re not telling your members what their Desired Outcome is, you are discovering it with them. Yes, it’s a little more time-consuming. It’s high-touch Member Success.

You probably also know a lot more about what your member’s Desired Outcome is than you even think. Sit down, take a step back, think about it.

I bet you’ll come up with some answers that you hadn’t even really considered. You’ll be amazed at how quickly implementing this system of discovery will help you turn around your Member Success rate (and reduce your churn rate) and begin to create some real trust and satisfaction among your members. They become Evangelists for your organization, they’ll become Raving Fans®. “Members begetting Members”.

Give it a try.


“Memberships are the most important asset in our industry today.  Are you making the most of your membership program? Is it growing your organization? Are you putting enough resources into growing your member base? Do you have a targeted plan for Recruiting, Engaging, and Retaining your members? We can help.” – Andrew McElhannon, CEO – Association Project Management, LLC®.

APM® helps member-based organizations & professional Trade Associations achieve Member Success, stabilize their member retention and guarantee membership growth through Prospect Development and Member Recruitment, as well as Member Engagement and Concierge Onboarding.

Organizations implement APM’s® programs to sustain their current revenue, reduce losses due to Churn (member non-renewal) and generate new revenue by creating Raving Fans® who evangelize new members that over time becomes automatic, organic growth. “Members begetting Members”.

Association Project Management, LLC® also provides a list of other project management and project completion services through a virtual staff member – a committed, trusted expert who helps to reduce costs, lower risks, improve efficiencies, meet deadlines, solve challenging problems, support strategic initiatives and produce better outcomes for your association staff. Visit them today at

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