The following is a guest article from Joe Radosevich. If you’re interested in submitting content, please refer to our contribution page.
When I trained at a commercial gym, I easily sold new clients on training. However, after I filled the busiest parts of my day, I didn’t have time available to meet with prospective clients.
It’s a common trainer problem. Once you’re in-demand time slots are full, you can only meet someone when you have a cancellation. For most trainers, the 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. time slots are best for selling but are usually filled with training.
The solution is to create your own sales staff.
Most trainers don’t think of doing this when they work for someone else. You can’t rely on the gym’s sales staff because they don’t naturally have a reason to fill up your schedule — they might have a commission incentive to sell, but not necessarily to sell for you.
To create your own sales staff, you must give the employees a reason to fill up your schedule. Here’s how:
Care for the Staff. Bob Burg says that people buy from those they know, like, and trust. I take that further and say that salespeople sell for those they know, like, and trust. Be as helpful as you can with the staff at the gym. Find out about their goals, families, training, etc. Give them a magazine article that you think is relevant to them. This is the first way to get the sales staff on your team.
Be Upfront with the Staff. To get something from the sales staff, tell them what you want. This shows integrity so that they know your motivation. When you want them to train with you, tell them, “I can help you reach your goal, and I’m trying to convince you to train with me.” When you’re upfront with the sales staff, they’ll respect you for not sneaking around and manipulating them.
Sell Them on Your Training. Practice your sales process on the sales staff. For example, ask if they would let you practice on them in exchange for a free workout, and then give them the best you’ve got. Show how you can help with their goals. If none start training with you, ask why and what you could do better. Some may start training with you before long.
Do a Great Job. If you train a staff member at the gym and get great results, people will notice. They’ll tell prospects that they train with you, giving you more credibility. Jeffery Gitomer says, “When you say it about yourself, it’s bragging. When someone else says it about you, it’s proof.”
I did this at my previous gym and eventually trained almost all the employees (including two trainers and all the managers). I was the talked-about trainer with new members. Every sales consultation became about training with me — even though I wasn’t free to talk with anyone!
One employee worked an opposite schedule from me — I never saw her except for her workouts with me. But I consistently picked up new clients that she referred. She was the best at the gym, and I didn’t have to do anything but train her.
Help Them Sell for You. Once I trained the employees in their workouts and they started selling for me (they got commissions from the company), I then worked on teaching them how to sell. I taught them one thing at a time and checked in to see what was working.
Teach them how to ask opening questions, how to overcome objections, how to explain the benefits of training, and about different kinds of training that get results. If you want to be a great trainer, study training and sales. Then pass that on. Don’t rely on the sales staff to train themselves.
I took time between sessions or during canceled sessions to ask the staff how their sales were going, praise them for recent success, talk them through some of the issues they face, and teach them the principles of selling. I find the one-on-one time works well because you can teach in bite-sized amounts and get good feedback.
3 Things to Teach Your Budding Sales Staff
So how do you coach your staff to be your best sales agents? Here are three easy instructions.
1. Get them to let the member show you the gap between where they are and where they want to be. The assignment was to ask, “what’s your goal?” Then I taught them to ask, “how do you plan to get there?”
Most people that joined the gym wanted to lose weight yet had no clue how to do it. I taught the staff that letting the member describe the gap between the starting point and the goal was the most important part of the process because then you just get to offer a solution to the problem that they just named.
2. Find out how important this goal is and how painful not reaching it will be. Teach the sales staff to find out the level of urgency of the member so that they’re both aware of the stakes. The higher the stakes, the more likely your solution will be important to the client.
3. Ask “How do you feel about that?” People decide to buy training based on what they feel, not what they think. As you ask questions and offer solutions, ask them “How do you feel about that?” You’ll tap into their feelings to help them decide, and you’ll know if you are losing the sale.
If they answer, “great” to that question and then hesitate later on, then you know where the objection is and can answer it immediately. If you wait until your presentation is finished to ask how they feel, then you have to backtrack to find the objection.
This is what the process looks like:
(New client or current member inquires about membership or training)
Begin by asking questions to build rapport — help the member see what she needs, and find out what you can help her with.
- What are your goals?
- Why is this important to you?
- How long have you wanted to reach these goals?
- What challenges keep you from these goals?
- What plan do you have to reach these?
- How will you know you are reaching your goals or not?
- Have you ever worked with a trainer before?”
Tell your story if it’s relevant. People love to hear stories especially if the salesperson’s story is similar to their own.
Explain how the trainers work toward their goals. (This is one reason training the staff is helpful — they can explain the different types of workouts and equipment. Don’t let them make stuff up.)
Now’s the time to ask the follow-up questions that lead to sales.
How much time can you spend towards these goals — days and hours per week?
On a 1-10 scale, how badly do you want this? Why?
On a 1-10 scale, how confident are you that your plan, motivation, and evaluation will get you there? Why?
Now the sales person can restate her goals, and explain how a trainer can help her reach those goals. Ask “how do you feel about this plan?”
If the client has stayed with you and feels good about the plan, restate her goals again and describe two packages that will help her reach their goals. Offer a big package that’s aggressive (say “this is the aggressive option”) and a smaller package. This eliminates the hard sell and allows the client two chances to say yes.
My previous gym tracked the salesperson on each sales and gave a 5% commission on all personal training sales. If your gym doesn’t, it’s still worth it to you to keep track of who sells and give quarterly gifts or commissions in proportion to their sales.
Give them a 5% commission or $200 gift card to their favorite theater, store, or coffee shop.
If you train at a commercial gym, you can’t afford to pass up any opportunity to get new clients. Don’t let your schedule determine the number of new clients you see. Recruit the staff at your gym to sell for you. Turn them into raving fans and you’ll see the holes in your schedule fill up.
About the Author
I own and train at Further Up Fitness in Bloomington, IL. I help women 25-55 get a body that they love and help retired adults age well. My training goals are to carry my wife, chase my kids, and move like Jason Bourne. I write at furtherupfitness.com.