I was an entry-level personal trainer at a large gym chain the first time I tried sales.
My manager sat me down for maybe 20 minutes of training, turned to me and said, “Now get out there and sign some clients.”
For the first few years all I knew was what I was taught:
- Get a prospect into a room.
- Lock the door.
- Don’t let them out until they pay.
Because that prospect wants a trainer; they just don’t know it yet.
So that’s what I did. And it was killing me inside.
So I started developing a new system based on (stay with me here) what was actually best for the client.
I realized it wasn’t sales I hated but rather the way I was taught.
Over the next few years, I fell in love with sales—especially over the phone. (And not just because I didn’t have to begin each meeting by assuring the other person I’m older than I look.)
Selling over the phone is unique, the ultimate trust-building scenario. Interacting with the prospect’s voice lets you focus on the conversation, ask deeper questions.
Sales is communication, and some people are naturally better communicators. That’s nice for them, but it doesn’t mean the rest of us are doomed to be bad at sales.
Just look at me. In 2008, when my family moved to Canada from Belarus (part of the former Soviet Union), I was 19, spoke limited English, and had few friends.
Now I earn commissions selling programs for fitness influencers (in my best month, I made $250,000 in sales) and I help coaches improve their success rate on phone sales as a mentor for Level 2 of the Online Trainer Academy.
That’s why I’m 100 percent certain you can learn to sell if you put your mind to it—and use these tips.
1. Open the sales call right (connect, frame, discover)
A successful sales call has a flow …
Building trust is crucial when the prospect can’t see your body language or facial cues. So start with easy banter.
I might open with, “Hey, Bob, this is Yegor from X-Y-Z fit biz. How’s your day?” Then I’ll ask where they’re from and what their city’s like.
Don’t linger too long, though. Bob really only wants to know how you can help him. So keep the chit-chat to two minutes, and move on.
“Framing” is when you set the agenda for the call. It accomplishes two things:
- Puts you in the driver’s seat.
- Creates context for the prospect.
Framing should take only a couple of sentences. You might say:
“So, Bob, is it okay if I tell you how this call is going to go? What I find works is if I first ask you questions about your background, maybe find out some of the challenges you’re having, and see what you’re trying to accomplish. If based on the information I gather it seems like I can help you, I will tell you about the details of my program and answer any questions you might have. If it seems like I can’t help you, I will refer you to someone who can. Sound good?”
Some call this stage “information gathering,” and it’s where the sale is really made.
The purpose is to find out the prospect’s problem and whether you can help solve it. You do this by asking skilled questions.
Start with a broad, open-ended question—“What are you hoping to get out of this call?”—then dive deeper.
Remember: Your goal is to understand, not be understood.
Listening is the most powerful sales skill you can develop. When you’re a good listener, the prospect leads the sales conversation.
All you have to do is encourage them to open up.
“What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to [X] right now?”
“What specifically would you need help with?”
“What’s the biggest reason you aren’t already there?”
“What do you mean?”
When you’re truly listening, you don’t have to think about what you’re going to say next. The prospect will tell you which door is open. You just need to walk through that door when given the opportunity.
2. Tease out all objections
If you don’t want to get objections at the end of the call, you must preemptively address them during the discovery stage.
Consider one of the most common objections: price.
Say the person reveals that they’ve tried working with a personal trainer before. You ask:
“How long did you have the trainer?”
“How much did you pay per hour?”
(Note that sometimes asking money-related questions works better with permission: “Can I ask you a personal question?”)
Now you have an idea of how much the person is willing to invest.
You might try to find out how much the prospect is spending on habits you could help them change:
“How many times do you eat in a day?”
“How many of those meals do you cook at home, and how many do you order out?”
I order out once a day.
“Where do you order from?”
This really nice restaurant we like.
“Do you order for just yourself or your whole family?”
My whole family.
What you’re doing is teasing out how much money the person is spending on eating out—and how much they could save if they were to hire you to teach them behavior-change strategies for eating out less.
If you tease out all objections during discovery, you shouldn’t have any at the end of the call.
And if you do, you’ll already have the information you need to address it.
3. Help your prospect make the best decision for them
If you’re bad at sales, it could be because you have a preconceived notion that it requires manipulating people.
But that’s a misconception. Selling isn’t a zero-sum game.
Your number-one job is to help your prospect make the best decision for them. Sometimes the best decision is not to buy your program.
But if buying your program is the best decision, it’s almost always going to take some persuasion.
How do you persuade someone? You don’t. You ask powerful questions until they persuade themselves.
Here’s one of the most powerful questions you can ask:
“Why is that important to you now?”
I ask this on every sales call. Depending how you ask it, you’ll get a very different response.
In fact, you can ask this question in four different ways …
The truth is, there’s a reason this person got on the phone with you. There’s a reason they wanted to learn more about your program.
When they tell you what that reason is, they tell themselves. When they say it, they believe it.
4. Use tension, not tactics
Despite what you’ll read in many popular sales books, “today” and “now” are two of the worst words you can use during a sales call.
Those books were written decades ago, and those high-pressure tactics no longer work. Your prospect has seen them too many times.
Tension, on the other hand, is a necessary part of a sales call.
How do you create healthy tension? By asking difficult questions.
If the prospect wants to lose weight and you ask why, they might say, “I feel my weight affects my confidence.” That’s an honest answer, but not quite good enough for me. So I’ll follow up with:
“What do you mean?”
I really struggle when I go to the beach.
“Okay, can you tell me about the last time you went to the beach?”
I didn’t want to take off my shirt.
“Just curious, what makes you say that?”
Asking a stranger why they don’t like taking off their shirt? That’s difficult to do! And it will create a healthy amount of tension.
Another example of introducing tension might come at the end of the call if the prospect tries to squirm out.
“Can I challenge you for a second? A minute ago, you told me you couldn’t wait another week to make a change. Now that I’ve introduced the investment, your demeanor has changed. Can I ask you an honest question? What changed for you?”
Notice this is different from saying, “You need to do this right now because you told me you feel out of shape.” That’s a high-pressure tactic. What I’m talking about is creating internal tension within the prospect.
Here’s another example. Let’s say at the end of the call they say:
I need to think about it.
“Okay, no problem. How do you feel about what we talked about today? Do you feel like the program can take you from point A to point B?”
“What makes you say that?”
The prospect then gives the reasons why they believe the program can help them. They sell themselves.
At that point, you simply ask, “So what do you need to think about?”
The answer of course is nothing. The prospect just told you they’re all in.
People have a way of sticking to their comfort zone, even if they’re unhappy there. We are way more likely to move away from something we don’t like than toward something we want.
If you think about it, that’s why people hire you: To push them outside that comfort zone and help them change.
Tension helps instill in your prospect a sense of urgency to make that change.
5. Present a solution
Once you’ve identified the prospect’s problem, show them how your program will help. Do that by creating a journey.
Here’s the basic transition I use:
“So Bob, based on what you’ve told me I feel like our program can help you. Would you like me to tell you what it would look like to work with us to help you achieve X-goal?”
“Okay, great. Now, I know you mentioned that you feel a bit stuck, and you’ve been that way for a while. This might seem far-fetched, but based on our experience you’re really only about four steps away from reaching your goals. Let me walk you through the process.”
Then you simply lay out their journey over the next X-number of weeks, focusing on how you are going to help them with their specific problem.
Here’s an exercise that might help you describe that journey:
- Grab a pen and a standard-size sheet of paper.
- Pretend you have to train a new coach to replace you, and you must communicate your entire training philosophy—how you take any new client from A to B—by writing it down on that paper.
- Start writing!
Now take a look at what you’ve written. That’s your client journey, and that is your pitch.
6. Sell certainty
Your prospect doesn’t care about how your program works, or any of its features.
Yes, you need a great program to deliver the results you promise. But that’s not what you’re selling. If the prospect believes in the results, they’ll assume your program is good enough.
So how do you get your prospect to believe in the results?
First and foremost, you must embody those results. If you don’t represent the outcome you’re selling—the goal your ideal client is trying to achieve—they’re not going to buy from you.
That also means you have to believe in what you’re selling. This is why good trainers struggle with sales.
When you ask a good trainer, “What’s the best exercise for glutes?” that coach is going to say, “Well, it depends.”
When you ask an inexperienced trainer the same question, they’ll say “a squat” or “a deadlift.” Not everyone might agree with that answer. But think about the certainty with which it’s delivered. Think about the confidence that inspires in a prospect.
Picture this: You’re shopping for a new car, and you point to a model you like and ask, “Is this a good car?” If the salesperson responds, “Well, it depends …” Are you going to buy that car? Probably not.
If a prospect asks me, “Is this a good training program?” I’m going to say, “Hell yes. Absolutely. This is the best training program you can find.”
That’s how you sell certainty.
Think of it this way: People work harder and accomplish more if they believe in the program you’re selling. By helping them believe in your program—by selling them on it—you’re helping them get better results.
7. Ask for the sale
Don’t overcomplicate this.
The biggest mistake people make toward the end of a sales call is they keep talking and talking.
If you did the discovery portion of the call correctly, your prospect is already bought in at this point. So there’s no need to go on.
Just say something like, “Okay, so I’ve gone over everything. You let me know where you want to go from here.”
Typically the person will ask about price.
Sometimes I’ll get playful and say, “Are you sitting down?” Remember, you want this conversation to feel casual. You want to always be building rapport.
Then you tell them the price, and you wait.
They say okay.
You take the payment information.
And you’re done.
Remember that sales is a process that takes time to master.
Some of you might have a leg up based on your background and upbringing, but we all can get much better in just a few weeks of consistent targeted practice.
And since sales is something that we constantly do every single day, becoming better means we will be much better communicators. In turn we will be better business owners, coaches, and even partners because communication is a cornerstone of success.
So for what it’s worth my advice to you would be to get out there and learn this invaluable skill.