It was 82 degrees in the middle of a Northern California drought, yet there I was, dressed in black from head to toe - in a polo shirt no less - chasing my toddler around the playground. My friend thought I was crazy, in disbelief that using my prospecting technique during our play date would yield any results.
She was pleasantly surprised when I walked away with a new client.
Truth be told, I did feel a little silly. I was a square peg in the round hole of park goers who threw on whatever they could stick their limbs through while simultaneously keeping a little one from hanging himself by his shoelaces. But, for this working mom who recently moved her in-home training practice to a new city, play dates and shopping trips aren't what they seem.
Sure, these outings preserve my sanity and give my son some much-needed social interaction, but they're an opportunity to network with potential clients and establish myself in this new community.
I specialize in women's health and fitness training, with a particular focus in family nutrition and wellness. A fenced-in toddler play yard is the barrel for my proverbial fish, and the uniform is the harpoon that reels them in. I don't have to do a thing other than be myself.
While a normal conversation might fizzle after customary pleasantries, wearing my training uniform introduces a side of me that acquaintances might not otherwise know.
I don't have to reach out and ask if someone's looking for a trainer, which can get awkward. If another mom is in the market, she will bring up the subject. If not, it's still known what I'm about and she will tell her friends about the trainer mom she met at the playground.
When it comes to personal training sales, it's not a product people buy, but a trainer. You are your own walking billboard, rent free!
Clients buy because they admire and trust you. What cheaper way to prospect than by being friendly? I would never in a million years be able to penetrate this market if I spent my time handing out pamphlets and solicitation requests to moms juggling toddlers. Instead, I'm able to start with my best foot forward -- a smile, warm greeting and conversations about temper tantrums. The rest just falls into place.
How to Prospect for More Personal Training Clients
There is very little you can't personalize with a logo and job title, so take advantage and be resourceful. A full uniform may not always be appropriate. For those times, a coffee mug or bag can talk for you. When you exercise or grocery shop, always wear your logo and colors. Keep in mind a little creativity goes a long way - my son is adorable and my very own walking billboard.
Play the part.
The hardest part of marketing yourself is the constant need to be genuine and approachable. Traffic jams and temper tantrums can't sway my mood, because first impressions really are everything. If it's a particularly stressful day, leave the logo at home, keeping in mind people will still recognize you, especially if you're doing a good job with your marketing.
See and be seen.
The playground might not be the best place for you to lurk when prospecting new clients, especially if you don't have a child yourself. Instead, visit a coffee stand, sports shop or other venue where your prospective clients frequent.
Without getting weird or forceful, strike up conversations about anything other than personal training and let things flow. It doesn't have to be complex or scripted; in fact, the more natural and genuine, the better. A simple smile and hello is an easy segue into a chat about the weather, extra-long lines or last night's game. Finding a common interest, or showing interest in something in which they are interested, is best. thePTDC ran an article a few weeks back from an influence expert outlining the best ways to approach new people, I suggest you click here to read it after.
At the playground, I chat about the other mom's child, or a common issue we're both having, like my son's perpetual need to find the biggest stick possible and swing it violently. At a coffee shop, I may ask a fellow patron how they like their pastry (which is often an opportunity to share nutrition knowledge!)
No one wants to be sold, or preached at, but almost everyone loves to make a new friend. Make that your focus and business will pour in. At the same time, don't avoid an opportunity to make a sale -- if someone asks me if I'm a personal trainer, I say yes and ask if they are looking for one.
Have info handy: I stash business cards and pamphlets in more places than I care to admit, from my purse, to diaper bag, to dash board and back pocket. The point is to always have something to hand out that will direct someone back to you, even if you didn't talk shop.
When the conversation winds down, I offer my card and the opportunity to continue the conversation at a future time. Maybe we talked training, or maybe not. The point is not so much the collection of sales leads as it is networking and relationship building. To that end, I always attempt to take down the other's name, phone number and e-mail address so I can reach out if I haven't heard back within a week's time. (I keep track of this info with a form that you can download free by clicking here so I can avoid a Post-it note avalanche.)
I use the level of interest I felt from the other to gauge which method of communication I use to follow up. Not every connection merits a phone call, but an informal e-mail or social media follow will at least establish the relationship. Be sure to note what you discussed so you can pick up where you left off.