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Sales Tactics from Somerville: Bringing in New Members the Way Businesses Bring in Clients

Peter Kollm - 02/28/2018


I attended my first Indivisible Somerville (IS) org meeting shortly after Trump’s inauguration with a need to incorporate activism into my everyday life. I knew that much of my social network also cared about the resistance efforts, but many didn’t have time outside of their school and/or work schedules, and in IS I found a group to work with. Many other people were also finding their way to IS, but engaging and retaining members soon became a challenge.

In my day job, I am a lead of client engagement for 10+ enterprise accounts at a global research firm. I knew that in corresponding with businesses, it often takes up to five attempts to contact an existing client. I also knew that once contact was established, it was pivotal to provide formal onboarding, and guided introduction to the organization’s ecosystem. It made sense to me that repetition would be the best means to win a volunteer’s attention, especially if they already indicated interest in something. I therefore  spoke up about the challenge to implement activism into one’s routine at this first IS meeting, specifically the idea that repetitive outreach would help win new members.

This is how the outreach team was formed: with the goal of individually contacting each new member via a system of repetition, provide formal onboarding, and pair them to a respective role that best fit their interests and skill sets. We decided it would be most effective to contact existing “clients,” or users that had previously opted into learning more about IS.

To implement this strategy, we built a typeform that intakes new member information into an Airtable database. (Instructions to set-up this database can be found here.) The Outreach Lead then assigned each prospective new member to a team liaison. The liaison then emailed each user up to five times (replying to their own unanswered email), before labeling the user “disengaged.” The persistence was often appreciated, and many emails made contact between the 3rd and 5th attempts.

New members often requested a means to meet additional Somerville members, and further discuss the organization. This need for a face-to-face connection prompted a monthly IS New Member Orientation. At orientation we provide introductions across the room, discuss structure, introduce technology, and provide key contacts to further get involved.

The Outreach Team currently leads Indivisible Somerville’s recruitment, new member orientation, social events, and call-to-action activist events. It remains our role to expedite new member immersion and ensure a positive experience within the org. Through this process we’ve significantly increased new member sign-up and engagement. We have new labs and committees forming, new members to participate in organizational events and initiatives, and networking throughout our community.

We are pleased to help any groups set-up a similar format via process coaching and tech, and are in contact with many progressive groups across the U.S. I cannot thank our team enough, specifically, my co-lead Sharon Locantore, and additional team members. For more information on Indivisible Somerville’s Outreach Team, please contact our team directly at