This is a guest post by Joe Vennare, co-founder of Hybrid Athlete.
I have a confession to make: I've never been any good at selling stuff. The strange part about that admission is that I make a living by selling products and myself.
On some level everything we achieve depends on our ability to convince other people to buy into what we're selling, whether it's our skills, business, or potential. If you think about it like that, we're all salesman.
That statement is especially true if you work in the fitness industry. If you're a personal trainer, you are selling a service and yourself. the same thing is true for a group exercise instructor. If you've created your own website or DVD or own a gym, you're responsible for spreading the word about your work and repping your personal brand.
No matter what your title is selling is part of your job description. So, it when comes time to make a sale, what kind of salesmen are you?
There are two ways to sell
When it comes to selling you have two options: always be closing or always be caring.
The closer's mindset says craft a sales pitch. Talk fast. Make lofty promises. Be pushy. Never take no for an answer.
Caring is more difficult, but more rewarding. It is about telling a story, asking questions, adding value, and building trust.
The decision is yours, but I've chosen option two. It works (more on that later).
Besides, nobody likes the salesman in the first option. The closer can't be trusted; they are slimy, sleazy, and scammy. You don't want to be a fast-talking, product-pushing salesman anyway. Drop the act and the sales pitch. You can do better than that. You should be trying to earn trust and build relationships.
You want to sell without selling.
Be a storyteller
In order to sell without being a salesman, take a page out of the storyteller's playbook.
We all think, communicate, and learn by telling stories. We're also strongly influenced by a well-crafted story. It has the potential to captivate our attention and create an emotional connection with the storyteller. And, when it comes to selling, connection is exactly what we need.
Spend less time reciting your pitch and more time telling story. Tell your clients why you chose to work in fitness. Tell them what motivates you, what you struggle with, and what you hope to achieve. When you share your story, people will begin to trust you, relate to you, and buy into what you stand for. When that happens, selling won't be an issue.
Adding value is a tricky concept; lots of people talk about it, but fewer people actually do it.
It's simple really. What are you going to offer that makes life better or easier for people? After that's decided, if you're able to figure it out, you also have to make the offer enticing, accessible, and effective. Remember, it's not about the pitch; it's about proving yourself and earning trust. That's how you will build a loyal following.
What exactly does adding value look like? Over on Hybrid Athlete, we use a program that we call Pay What You Want.
Pay What You Want?
You may have heard about the freemium - giving content away for free to attract clients. We took that concept and applied it to our introductory fitness guides. People who visit the site are able to download three training guides - healthy eating, kettlebell training and running - for free.
We took that concept one step further by giving everyone the option to pay for the training guides if they saw value in what we were doing. Thankfully they did. Although most people take the training guides for free, about 30% pay for them. In fact, of that 30%, people tend to pay more than we would have initially priced the guides at to begin with.
You might be thinking that 30% is a pretty weak percentage, and you might be correct. But, here's the catch, we never intended to make money from these training guides. We wanted to build a brand, community, and reputation. The free guides were our way of connecting with people. Visitors to the site never feel threaten by the pitch. Instead, thanks in part to Pay What You Want, people are captivated by the story we are telling.
In fact, this approach and the story we created was so well received that we extended the Pay What You Want model to all of our products. Granted, not all of our products are free. Since we offer online courses, with monthly fees attached, we have to charge a minimum price to ensure that we don't actually lose money. However, with that being said, we still allow customers to input their own price, whatever that might be.
When we asked customers why they chose to pay, they told us that the price they chose was based on the quality of the content we create, our accessibility, and the no push, scam-free sale.
Option two - caring - actually worked.
When it comes to selling, yourself or products, you're free to choose between caring and closing.
Whether it's online or brick and mortar business, you could take the traditional marketing route by making sweeping promises that your product, your program, and your way is the one and only solution.
Or, you could set out to establish your personal brand, create a community, and build a platform to use as you share your story. You can be honest, transparent, and genuine with potential clients. You can stop telling them what you think they want and ask them what they need. You can listen to what they say, commit to their goals, and over-deliver (now that's adding value!)
If you're willing to do these things you won't have to be a salesman; your story and your clients will do the selling for you. It's how you can sell without selling.
Photo credit: ExerciseNationClub.com, HybridAthlete.com
Related articles mentioned:
Selling Personal Training in 5 Steps by Jonathan Goodman
How to From Consult to Sale Without Being a Salesman by Jonathan Goodman
What the Fitness Industry Really Needs to Be Providing by Jonathan Goodman