Making ‘the ask’ is a key to recruiting new members

“The ask” is the simple action of asking someone to become a member. It’s our hope that all of our volunteers make “the ask” at some point in their Farm Bureau tenure – and we also hope that you ask multiple people to join our great organization.

It’s understood that not everyone is a stellar salesman and not everyone is comfortable with talking about membership. That’s why we’ve come up with the following five tips to help make you more comfortable and prepared the next time you talk to another farmer or agribusiness professional about joining Indiana Farm Bureau.

Tip #1: Don’t assume they know about Indiana Farm Bureau. It’s easy to assume that people already know about Farm Bureau, but often, unless they are a member or know a member, they may not have any idea who we are or what we do. It’s a great idea to practice what you would say to someone who doesn’t know who Farm Bureau is or who isn’t familiar with the basics of the organization.

If you are approaching an individual farmer or agribusiness professional, a short explanation may be best. If you are meeting with the head of an agribusiness, something with more detail about our programs, services and partnership opportunities would be of benefit.

Tip #2: Do your homework. You’ll want to be able to answer the question “Why should I join Farm Bureau?” if you’re approaching anyone about becoming a member. Think about what activities your county Farm Bureau is engaged in and how those activities would be of interest to this prospective member.

This is where preparation comes into play. Understand what the farmer, professional or agribusiness is involved in and then think through how the county Farm Bureau activities impact them positively.

Are they a farmer who feels over-regulated and underpaid? They may be interested in hearing how we are one of the most respected organizations at the Statehouse and how our members get to talk face-to-face with their legislators about the issues that matter most.

Are they in the animal care or animal processing business? Maybe they’d like to hear about the work we do to grow animal agriculture in Indiana and how we prepare livestock farmers concerning the correct way to go about expanding their livestock operations.

Is this business dependent on crop production? What does your county do to promote local farmers and how could they be involved with your activities?

Being ready to talk about the value that your county provides to that specific person or business will boost your odds of success.

Tip #3: Use your Farm Bureau relationships. Approaching the subject of Farm Bureau is an important first step. However, you’ll improve your odds by leveraging personal and business relationships your board and membership committee may already have in place. Ask yourself if there is anyone on your board who is a customer of or has a pre-existing relationship with this farmer, agribusiness individual or business. These relationships make it much easier to get in the door. Plus, it’s really hard for a business person to say “no” to a good customer.

Tip #4: Ask them to join. The goal of visiting with anyone is to invite that person to join Farm Bureau, so make sure you actually do that. The single biggest controllable thing that separates success from failure in sales is forgetting to make “the ask.”

It’s easy to forget. Many people will talk about all the great things Farm Bureau does and then just hope the other person says “Sign me up.” Unfortunately, that isn’t normally the case. Asking gives the other person a chance to accept your request. Agribusiness individuals are accustomed to people asking them for what they want. They’ll expect it and notice if you don’t.

Tip #5: Follow up. Often you’ll get responses ranging from “I’ll think about it” to “I’ll fill out the application and send it in.” Those responses are perfectly fine, but people get busy and forget. Check with your regional manager to see if your prospect has sent in a membership. If time has passed, go ahead and follow up. A call or email with a message as simple as “I wanted to see if you had the chance to send in your Farm Bureau application” is a good reminder. Following up also will give you a chance to answer any other questions that may have come up and gives you another opportunity to ask them to join.

Lastly, following up not only serves as a gentle reminder, but it also gives you the opportunity to thank them for supporting your county Farm Bureau.