I used to avoid sales due to my fear of rejection, so I’d often come up with stories about not being comfortable asking for other people’s money, about how I “hated selling.” Obviously, this attitude didn’t serve me well in a profession that floats or sinks on selling.
Then I realized that selling a high-quality service (like personal training) is a different kind of selling. There is no need to be pushy and “sales-y” to close a potential client. Rather, it’s more like enticing someone with your ability to build rapport more than it is simply throwing benefits and overcoming objections. I’ll explain more in a bit, but my goal is to paint selling in a different light and then use that shift in perspective to help you get more clients.
Don’t be needy. Be confident in the initial consultation.
There are a lot of parallels between talking to a personal training prospect and going on your first date. You need to show the other person that you are worth his or her while.
In the dating world, there is one thing that consistently turns people away: being too needy. No one seems appealing if they’re needy. In fact, that’s what being too pushy and coming off too strong make you look like.
Instead, you need to be able to look and act confidently. This isn’t groundbreaking stuff, but the real challenge is actually in being able to pull it off, even when you’re not confident.
During the initial consultation, you should be letting the client feel comfortable and affirm your excitement about working with them. Treat every client as a potential, even if they’re just “shopping around”. This ensures that you give them the attention to detail and enthusiasm they think they deserve. And of course, smile a lot.
Your goal is to build rapport. Most of this requires you to develop great listening skills to really hear what they’re saying, hone in on their pain points, and be understanding. Let them speak, help them connect the dots by posing what they say back to them as questions, and gently encourage them to continue by saying “Go on.”
If you show that you are a great listener, the person will naturally be drawn to you because he will feel that finally someone understands him–and you can’t put a price on that.
Most new clients feel uncomfortable about the consultation and being asked about their fitness. In these cases, emphasize that they’ll do great, and if they object or have concerns, address them with empathy, not sympathy. Don’t try to overcome them with dismissive hand-waving.
Detach yourself from the outcome.
If you’re entering a sales conversation with a view on the prize, you are setting up for failure. You will be nervous, sound desperate, and may even end up discounting your prices, or accepting conditions that are unfavorable to you.
Of course, this is hard when you have very few clients to begin with, but part of being confident from the first point is that you are firm about what you are worth and know your value.
Instead of entering the conversation with doom and desperation in mind, tell yourself that you don’t really need this client. The stakes are only as high as you make them. Be ready to let go of the sale if the person is not right for you. When you can go into any consultation showing that you’re ready to sell but are also ready to accept a “no,” you’ll avoid self-sabotaging yourself. Just remember: If you have been able to get in front of one prospect, you will be able to get in front of many others.
I always remember this kernel of wisdom from business coach Dan Sullivan:
If you get a “yes,” you get a reward. If you get a “no,” you get a lesson.
Even if you’re really desperate because money is tight, showing up with confidence maximizes your chances of getting a “yes” because your value can actually show in your body language and the way you talk and interact with your prospect. And even if you do get a “no,” you can analyze what went wrong and sharpen your selling skills for your next sales conversations.
The worst thing to obtain is a “maybe.” If the person says, “I will have to think about it, and I’ll call you during the week,” you can say, “Okay, I will take that as a no for now, but you can come back to me when you feel ready.” This positions you better to convert a new client later than if you were to try to overcome their objections.
Listen more than you talk.
As I mentioned earlier, listening is important, especially when you’re trying to learn more about your prospect. In a true sales conversation for coaching, there are no “tricks” to be played.
Instead of showing off your knowledge with big words and trying to debunk every myth the person believes in, try to really see where they’re coming from, what they want, and why.
Actually, listen to them.
You only need to ask the right questions and allow the person to confide in you. Questions like Why do you think you’ve been struggling with your previous fitness attempts? and How do you feel about the things you’ve learned about health and fitness so far? get the client talking about his philosophies and give you more information.
Listen to what the person says and show him that you get what he’s going through. Make him feel as if you’re the only person who actually understands him, you have made yourself unique in his eyes, which will maximize your chances or closing the sale afterwards.
Trust is the one thing that can make or break the sale.
The most precious thing to establish between you and your prospect is trust. Nobody buys from someone they don’t trust, especially if it will cost a chunk of money.
Simply, the best way to inspire trust is to tell the truth. Who would have thought? That means you don’t need to ramble on about how amazing you are or sell your soul. (You should be able to demonstrate your abilities through a complimentary training session instead.)
It’s important to say what you can and can’t do. If the person has conditions that are outside of your scope of practice, say it. Be straightforward. Tell your prospects what they can realistically expect, if they put in the work.
Chances are, your prospective client has come to you because he’s tried many things and has been deceived by cheaper salesmen. He’ll likely be skeptical. To put him at ease, you can say something like:
“I see that you’ve tried several things already, and I want to commend you for that. You’ve also realized quick fixes don’t work long term. I can’t make the same promises as the diet industry, but with a personalized approach to dietary habits and resistance training, you will gradually progress towards your goal, but it will take time, effort, and consistency on your part, which is why I’ll be there to support you.”
And the best part? The truth is something you can actually sell with confidence.
Then once this trust is established, you can feel more confident about announcing your price. That’s when most people panic.
But you have already announced what was likely to happen. Now you just have to say how it’s going to happen (your package) and the price on that. If the person has concerns, you can address them again with empathy and a sense of detachment from the outcome.
If you have tried your best to get to know the person you want to sell to, you have done great. You won’t be able to connect with everyone, and trying to will drain your energy when you train them. Usually, incompatibilities between you and your prospect show up in the sales conversation. If the person is right for you, you will be able to connect, so you won’t need to oversell your services or use any fancy tactics to trick them into anything.
If you don’t like selling because you don’t like being pushy or needy, it’s actually a great thing. The skill you need the most to sell is listening, and it’s a crucial one for personal training as well. People very often feel misunderstood. If you show them that you “get them,” they won’t think too much about the price.
More helpful articles to close more sales:
- An Insider’s Guide to Mastering the Skill of the Initial Consultation by Jonathan Goodman
- How Much Should You Charge For Personal Training? by Brett Jarman
- 6 Techniques For How to Build Maximum Client Trust and Rapport by Eric Bach