If you want to thrive in the personal training world, you have to be able to sell your coaching services to many clients. What’s less clear is how to sell. Selling personal training isn’t as easy as crossing your fingers and hoping, especially if you’re new to the industry. You don’t have to be a shark or unethical, but there are specific sales and marketing tips that can immediately improve your odds of making a successful sale.
First and foremost, you must 100 percent believe in yourself and in the fitness product you are offering.
You must exude the confidence that you’ll be able to help your clients achieve the results they are looking for. That said, in my experience closing percentages follow this sort of pattern:
* Poor sales ability = 10% closing percentage
* Good sales ability = 25% closing percentage
* Great sales ability = 50% closing percentage
In other words, it’s not always guaranteed, and that’s okay. Obviously, the better you get, the higher the likelihood you can close your sales. Further, your closing percentage often relies on a “warm” lead, which means that you’ve already talked to the prospect or have had this prospect acknowledge you in some capacity. One way to turn a cold prospect warm is to leverage a complimentary personal training session to boost your chances of closing the sale.
A warm lead starts with a free coaching session.
Most gyms offer a complimentary session with a trainer when someone purchases a gym membership. If you are operating independently, it is still a good idea to give all prospective clients one free personal training session (but not more than that). This lets the client sort of “test drive” the personal trainer, especially when they’re iffy about investing or don’t yet understand the experience and relationship.
And for you, the complimentary session leads to an easier sale. At the same time, don’t be afraid to refer potential clients out to other trainers if the client doesn’t mesh with your personality or skill set.
Let’s assume that a free session has been scheduled and you will now train the person and attempt to make the sale. Here are five steps you need to follow to close that sale.
1. Call the client the night before the session.
Before the meeting with the client, call the client the night before. This serves both as a reminder for the client to show up for the session and see if this person is truly interested in your service. Calling clients the night before the first session has had the most profound effect on improving my own closing percentage, which doubled once I implemented this strategy.
When you contact your client, do not text. You want to engage in a conversation and start building rapport. Call the client at a reasonable hour (4-8 p.m. works well), introduce yourself, explain why you are calling, and answer any questions they may have for you.
Remember that the purpose of an introductory session is for you to show your potential clients how personal training is needed to help them achieve their goals. Be explicit about the purpose over the phone, but be succinct. If the client starts to bombard you with detailed questions that require detailed answers, politely remind the client to ask those questions during training, as that is part of its purpose.
If a client asks what you need from him, simply state that he should come dressed in gym clothes, be ready to complete a fun workout, and that you will take care of everything else.
The caveat here is that you might lose a few people right then and there, but it’s likely they were not interested in buying personal training in the first place. I would rather find that out over the phone in five minutes than after spending a full hour with these people.
2. Introduce the new client to at least three people in the gym during the first session.
Gyms are very intimidating for many people. Treat the new client like a guest in your home and introduce her to your friends, coworkers, and other gym members to break down her walls and stereotypes about the gym and help her be more comfortable.
Knowing names and faces also helps your client feel more like she belongs, like she could really see herself working out and spending time here most days of the week. You might want to give your coworkers a heads up that you will be doing this so they know to be extra friendly when you introduce that wide-eyed new member to them.
3. Set the tone of your trainer-client relationship with the first workout.
Turn up your energy and “fun factor” during the complimentary session. It doesn’t have to be all fun and games. It could be simply showing the client a new exercise that he especially likes, a new stretching technique, or simply helping him complete his first successful workout. Then at the end of the session, I want you to ask the client: “Was that workout fun for you?”
And he’d better say “yes.”
The point here is to make sure the complimentary session doesn’t give your client the impression that exercise and training with you are going to be torture (unless that’s the kind of motivation he wants). Because let’s face it: most people don’t find throwing up, almost blacking out, and/or crying fun, so the client should not do any of those things in the first session (or at any time during training, ideally). His “yes” is affirmation for himself as well and can have an impact on the final sale.
4. Always ask “yes” questions.
As a lead-up to making the sale, ask basic “yes” questions. By that I mean you aim to ask questions that make clients want to only say “yes.” Some simple ones include:
- Was that a good workout?
- Do you think that workout would help you achieve your goals?
- Could you do that workout 2-3 times a week?
You ask a question; they say “yes” in response.
The point of these “yes” questions is that you are making the clients confirm over and over again that they do want to be in better shape; they do want to improve their health; they do need help in constructing their workouts and nutrition plans; and they do need a personal trainer–you.
This way when it comes time to purchase personal training sessions, they are already primed to say “yes.”
5. Give them one of two options to choose from when selecting a package.
When offering your training packages, give your client choices. Don’t just say, “Would you like to buy personal training?” and look at him hopefully. Instead, say something to this effect:
“Based on your goals and what you want to achieve, we should train together three or four times a week for three months. Which one of these options do you want to do?”
When you present the question this way, you give the client power in choosing what is “best” and assume the client will purchase your personal training. Personally, I found this method even easier to employ than simply asking the client if he wanted to purchase personal training or not.
Another popular marketing technique is the “decoy effect,” where you present three options but two of them are meant to make the third (your intended option) the most desirable. It has been written extensively here. (Read: Selling Personal Training in 5 Steps.)
Bottom line, sales is a skill that can be improved with practice, effort, and some simple techniques to improve your odds, like the ones suggested above. Remember, your marketing goal is to show the client that you are the type of trainer they want to work with. You are the trainer they have been looking for. And of course, you had better damn well be.