Whether working in a commercial gym, private, or crossfit studio one of the biggest reasons I see behind good trainers failing to meet their financial goals is the constant pressure to sell, sell, sell.
The all too common scenario is that you put your heart and full effort in to coaching, educating and motivating your client only to find out they are not renewing because their kid needs braces, they have trouble waking up early or they are heading off to join the Occupy Wall Street protest.
I know that as a new trainer WHAT to say during this dreaded “conversation” with my clients filled my mind for at least a week to two weeks before the actual discussion.
And after watching this same preoccupation undermine trainers and coaches with multiple clients, I quickly decided my first order of business for staying in business was to commit all clients to a long term fitness program.
While I am assuming most readers of this site go to lengths to plan out a progressive fitness program and coach our clients to achieve the proper diet and fitness habits, the only way these things will work is if they are actually guaranteed to be there for three, six, nine or twelve months is to experience the long term benefits.
In the midst of recession, one of the first changes we made was to STOP offering personal trainer or program design packages of any kind which consist of individual sessions. Instead, we begin each new client orientation (whether group or individual personal training) with an extensive evaluation and goal setting session to clearly identify the client’s motivations and objectives.
By associating the length of their commitment with a specific goal, this creates both the intent and motivation necessary to selling your program as a long term approach versus a short term solution and tapping the client’s intention to take ownership of long term change.
Though this will be unique to each client, read on for a battle tested step by step process to do just that.
Step #1: Setting the stage:
A common practice in fitness sales is to offer a free personal training session to clients to sell the merits of a gym or personal training studio. But far too often, we find that this session consist of a thirty minute locker room tours or a trip through the machine circuit.
By contrast, we view this session as a time to build and solidifying the client’s intention through a detailed evaluation, a great workout and interaction with their trainer.
This begins as the client walks through our doors with a brief fact finding discussion on their likes goals and interests. Because people love to talk about their situation, this should be as easy as a few simple questions:
What brings you to us today and what are you goals? This gives us an idea of what they are willing to reveal. Some clients will require more investigation while others will put it out there immediately.
What have you been doing so far to meet your goals? What do you feel is not working? This gives us an idea of their current level of commitment and the approach we will take for coaching/selling.
When were you in the best shape of your life and what were you doing? This gives us a window in to their past as well as activities and practices they enjoy.
Though these questions are far from comprehensive, they give us a basic idea of the willingness of the client to buy in to our system. From here, the next step is to conduct a short evaluation while discussing our observations with the client.
With the idea of positioning yourself as an expert (versus a meathead that will throw them on the chest press machine), this assessment should include basic postural, strength and fitness evaluation which allows you to discuss basic observations with your client.
In our case, we utilize the FMS (Functional Movement Screen), followed by bodyweight strength testing and specific breakouts or sport specific testing based upon goals.
Throughout the session, everything we say and do must reinforce the idea that we are taking careful consideration of the client’s needs and possess the tools necessary to achieve an optimal result. This means frequently re-visiting and elaborating on goals and outcomes as well as discussing training times to solidify these items in the client’s minds.
But while the assessments and discussion begins this process, we must also demonstrate the workout itself will produce results by making sure the client visibly winded or fatigued after the session.
Depending on the observations made during the initial assessment (can the client do a bodyweight push up and a squat, are they covered in sweat?), we will also throw in a simple conditioning circuit of bodyweight exercises to “test” work capacity.
1. Screening process
2. Strength testing
3. Work Capacity testing