Personal trainers generally hate sales. I hated sales when I started.
I was afraid I would come across as slimy or desperate… and I wasn’t all that great at sales either.
The only reason I persisted was because when I was in college I started asking how to become a successful trainer. A good friend and mentor of mine told me, “Stu, if you’re going to succeed as a personal trainer, you need to know sales!”
She also said, “I know many trainers, and most of them have an ego and don’t think they should have to learn sales… and they usually end up going out of business.”
I took her advice to heart.
My Early Lessons In Sales
Before I ever started training, I did sales for a local gym.
It was grueling. Each day, I had to drag myself out of bed because I knew I had to make cold calls. Cold calls are like a hungry pack of wolves attacking you. People hang up on you and yell at you. There were days I almost cried because it was so stressful.
Some people don’t find cold calling stressful, but I sure did.
There were times when I actually called a person 15 different times, left 15 voicemails, and then got a hold of them on the 16th call.
Guess what… they actually signed up!
I learned a valuable lesson: people generally take a long time to persuade and rarely return your calls.
As grueling and disheartening as this was, it really shaped me and prepared me to sell as a personal trainer. Fortunately you won’t have to go through this terrible process. You get the benefit of my knowledge.
The Art Of The Sale
All through my career, I was obsessed with sales because I knew that was a critical key for my success.
Finally, I met someone that had 20 years of sales experience and who taught sales for Xerox.
Now, I don’t know if you know anything about Xerox, but they are known for being the all time best sales company.
Many years ago, Xerox invented the fax machine and needed to sell it to businesses. You can imagine the challenge…
… a sales associate goes to a business and tells them about this new amazing device called a fax machine. The first question from the business is, “How many other business have one?”
NONE… it’s brand new.
That’s a tough sale.
So, Xerox had to figure out some really effective sales methods in order to sell something that no one could use yet.
Hence, Xerox became a sales whiz.
Anyway… my friend happened to be the one that taught this sales process to the Xerox sales people. And I convinced her to teach it to me.
Now, I can’t go into every detail on this post because the technique requires the ability to adapt to each person.
However, I can give you an overview of the art of the sale without being slimy.
Sales Technique 1 – Ask questions
The biggest mistake EVERYONE makes in sales is when they start talking about the product.
I don’t care who you are, what you offer, or who you’re talking too… You need to ask questions before you even consider selling anything.
As it relates to training, the first question you should ask any potential client is, “What are you trying to accomplish?”
You need to understand them – who they are, what they want, their challenges, and why getting in shape is really important to them.
Sales Technique 2 – Allow Your Potential Client to Paint a Picture
Instead of you telling your potential client why it would be wonderful you hire you… let them tell you why they think a trainer would help them.
Let them paint the picture of how wonderful having someone like you would be.
Anytime they tell you why it’s a good idea, they’re more committed. It’s much better than you trying to convince them… that’s where the slimy feeling comes from.
If someone is sitting in front of you, it means they’re somewhat interested in a trainer. They’ve at least thought of some reasons why they want a trainer and how a trainer could benefit them.
All you have to do is ask… then LISTEN.
Sales Technique 3 – Close the Sale
Let’s say your potential client has explained what their goals, challenges and hopes are… you’ve asked them to tell you how a trainer can help them achieve these things and they’ve really opened up.
You have a great connection and you know you could really help them.
Then they ask about pricing and there’s an awkward silence. You give them the prices and they tell you they’re going to think about it…
…You just blew the sale.
Don’t feel bad. This happens to the best of us… even after 15 years, I still blow a sale every now and again. It reminds me to never get sloppy or take anything for granted.
Here’s how you SHOULD close the sale…
You get to the beautiful point I just described and then, before anything, you say, “Great! It sound like you really want to lose 20 pounds for your high school reunion (or whatever they told you) and I know how important that is for you. Is that correct?”
“Perfect. I can do that for you. When would you like to start?”
What just happened is you reiterated what they told you, they agreed and they just sold themselves on why they should work with you and how important it is.
At this point, price isn’t an issue.
I’ve had people explain exactly what they need and want. I reiterate. They agree. I show them my services and they agree to get started. The price comes out to $749 and they pay. Sometimes we make payment plans if they don’t have all the money.
They’re committed. I’m committed. We get great results.
Here’s something else to think about: If they don’t sign up with you, they’ll sign up with someone else. If you get the best results, then it’s cheaper for them to sign up with you. You’ll all be much happier!
This overview should really get you thinking about sales in a new way. In the next sales article, we’ll look at some more advanced techniques, along with how to handle objections.