"Hey look! It's a visitor! Get 'em signed up quick - we have to get to our 20 members to be President's Distinguished!"
OK - so your club probably doesn't quite act like that. But it's human nature to go after the end result without taking all the right steps to get there - we see something, we grab it. "So glad you're here! Sign this and give me a check!"
You've all heard about he radio station WIIFM (what's in it for me) that we all listen to - but to get your visitor to transform into a member, you need to adjust your dial a bit, to WIIFT -What In It For Them.
First, don't attack them before the meeting. Welcome them in, introduce them to the Toastmaster, the President of the club, or even someone assigned to working with visitors, like the VP of Membership. Then sit them down next to you, and let them know they'll be called on to introduce themselves, and ask if you can answer any questions before the meeting begins. Let them know you'll be available after the meeting as well.
Hopefully the club gives them the opportunity to speak during Topics, and another chance to give their comments on the meeting at the end - these two scenarios can provide you with some clues for your conversation at meetings end. Once they've been through a meeting, the next phase of your mission begins - Discovery Questions:
Do you have any (more) questions I can answer? If they didn't have questions at the start, they probably do now, or they have more. Instead of inundating them with information they may or may not care about, find out what's on their mind. They may very well lead you to the end of the conversation without you having to do a thing.
What would you like Toastmasters to do for you? Forget for a moment about your DCP goals, the manuals you want to tell them about, and that open officer role they can fill. Finding out what they came for will lead you to your next move, and increase your clubs chances of making a difference for this potential member.
What is your timetable? Some folks won't have one. Some may think a year is plenty of time to learn public speaking. Others may need to give a speech at work in the next month. Understanding their expectations will help you craft your answers, whether you are telling them the best way to get their Competent Communicator in the next twelve months or getting them on your speaking schedule in time to practice for work. They can do their Icebreaker after they've met their initial goal.
Once you've found out about them, and they know you actually care about THEIR goals, take it to the next level - Tell them, don't ask them, to join.
Assume the sale. You've discovered their needs and addressed them. Tell them what they need to do next to fulfill those needs. Walk them through the process, welcome them on board, give them their first manual from your overflow box.
Follow up. The ultimate in customer service. Call them up before the next meeting. Ask them again if they have questions. Send a Welcome Aboard card from the club. At the very least, talk with them when they attend the next meeting, and get them going on the mentor process.
Don't overpromise. We can't guarantee that they'll become a great speaker in a month - send them to a coach if that's really their expectation. If they've been drawn in by the new Leadership marketing focus, let them know it's a process, and if they think they can be the District Governor next year, they need to rethink. Stay solution-oriented and positive, of course, but a new member with unrealistic expectations becomes an ex-member very quickly.
Follow through. Get them on the schedule. Set them up with a mentor. Help them create their own timetable to reach their goals, so it becomes real. The more the club invests in the member, the more the member, in most cases, will invest in the club.
Finding out more about your visitors helps both of you, and creates new members that are better prepared for success in the club.
What best practices do you have in your club? Do you have a system in place? Are all your members prepared to talk to and sign up a new member, or do they at least know who can?
First Contact is crucial, and none of us want it to also be our Last Contact. We're all pretty good at talking once we've been in TM awhile. But the key to signing up a new member lies first in listening, so when you do Speak, you Deliver the package they need.