You Have to Sell to Change Lives

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Do you think of sales as a dirty word? Do you picture a sneaky used-car salesman?

Let’s establish one important thing before we begin.  You can’t change lives if you are not able to convince and motivate them to buy in to what you are offering them.  The first step to helping a prospective training client transform their lives is to sell them, so to put things in perspective sales is not about making a buck but rather helping people change their lives.

The goal of this article is to help you think of sales as a necessary skill for changing lives. The good news is that sales is a process that can be learned in the following five easy steps.

1. Be Prepared

First impressions mean a lot. Do you want to appear too busy for prospects, or do you want to make them feel important? At our company, Journey 333, we greet each prospect by writing “Welcome [insert customer’s name] to Journey 333” on a highly visible board at the front desk. It’s the first thing people see when walking in for that introductory appointment. We also take the time (at least 10 minutes prior) to prepare folders with customers’ names written on them.  Lastly, we always offer fresh coffee and/or a bottle of cold water. These things convey that people are important to us and that we value them and their time.

2. Get Prospects to Say Yes Immediately

The minute potential clients walk in the door, you should find ways to get them to say yes. We greet each prospective client with a warm smile, a handshake and ask them closed-ended, affirmative questions: “You must be [insert customer’s name]?” “You must be my [insert time] appointment?” “And you found the place okay?” These questions confirm that we’re with the right person, but more importantly they get prospects to say yes three times. The more yes answers you get in the beginning, the more likely you are to get a yes in the end!

3. Build Rapport & Learn the Goal

This is where you start the tour, right? Wrong! You don’t want to be a salesperson; you want to be the assistant buyer—that trusted friend people take shopping with them. However, you can’t be the assistant buyer until you build rapport and you don’t want to start shopping until you know what you are looking for. So relax. Prospects are there because they want to be. After the warm welcome, it’s time to build VALUE, an acronym we use to remember how to build rapport. VALUE stands for Victory Achieved by Listening, Understanding and Empathizing.

Listening is so important, especially in these days of easy digital distraction. Don’t look at the clock, answer the phone or do anything to lose focus on the person in front of you. Understanding is also key. Remember, everyone struggles, even if not with the same issues. When prospects mention their struggles, use the Feel/Felt/Found method: “I know how you feel. When other members started, they felt the same way. This is what they found . . .”

Empathizing may be the most important piece here. You must put yourself in your clients’ shoes. If you are able to do this well and authentically, then most of your prospects will become members. This step is about creating relationships, so ask rapport-building questions like these: “Are you from around here?” “What do you do for fun?” “Do you work locally?” “What are you looking for in a gym?”

The question “What are you looking for in a gym?” normally reveals the prospective client’s goal and this is what the tour is all about.  So many fitness professionals make the mistake of thinking that the sales tour is all about the club, its equipment and the sessions you offer.  The truth is everyone has similar equipment and similar sessions.  The tour needs to be about the prospective client’s goals and how working out at your club will help them achieve their goals.  Follow this rule and it will pay big dividends, never start the tour until you have learned the goal of the prospective client.  If prospects have trouble answering what their goal is then assist them by sharing that, in your experience, there are four reasons why people join a gym: to look better, to move better, to feel better or to perform better. Ask which one fits and make sure you get specifics.  Remember as fit pros we want to help clients establish SMART goals which means the goals are Specific, Measurable, Relevant, Attainable and Timebound.

4. The Sales Tour

The Sales Tour could be defined as demonstrating the benefits of working with you to achieve their goal. You’ll want to address two client needs during the tour. The first is to help them find a solution. If a prospect’s main stated desire is “I want toned triceps,” then you need to show how you will make that happen. Second, even if prospects believe you have the solution, they still have to believe that they’ll be able to do the program you give them.

In order to do this there is one stopping point on your sales tour that cannot be missed—the one that shows them the solution to their problem and helps them believe they can achieve it. You will do this with the Feature/Benefit/Feedback approach. The Feature is the goal.  The Benefit is that they will be working with you to achieve the goal and the Feedback you are looking for is when they say “yes.”

Here’s the approach in action:

Feature:  You have learned that the client wants tone triceps so your tour centers around that.

Benefit:  The tour demonstrates the benefits of how working out with you in your club will help tone their triceps. “This equipment is terrific for toning the triceps. You’ll use it to do triceps extensions like these.” You tell them, show them and let them try it, while ensuring they feel the muscle working and are confident that they can do it. Now you have met the two needs of every client which is to believe you have the solution and believe that they’ll be able to do it.

Feedback:  Confirm this with a question: “[Insert customer’s name], I’m sure you can see how that exercise will help you tone your triceps?”

Congratulations, you just got another yes.

Remember that these tours are not about the gym or the equipment. They’re about the prospect’s goals and showing you and your club are the path to those goals.

You will know that you are ready to close the deal when you get a yes to this question.  “Based on everything I have shown you; do you believe I can help you achieve your fitness goals?”  If yes, then we move to step 5.  If no, then keep building VALUE.

5. Close the Deal

Closing the sale is best done with an A or B.  Not Yes or No.   If you simply ask the prospect if they want to sign up then there is a 50% chance they will say no but if you take the “Yes” answer that they just gave as the indication that they want to sign up and you should, then you can offer two different options that work and take the “No” option off the table.

Remember, you aren’t a salesperson; you’re the assistant buyer. If you’ve done a good job building rapport and connecting, then it really will feel like shopping with a friend. Here’s a sample script: “So [insert customer’s name], based on what I’ve learned about you, I recommend our 12-month training program. This membership option will allow us to achieve your goals, maintain those results and save you money. Or, if you want to start with a shorter commitment, we have a 3-month option that costs $30 more per month.”

At this point, you are an assistant buyer directing a prospect to the right choice between A and B. Offer only two options—if you offer more, the odds of no decision triple. Be quiet after you present the options. The saying “The first one to speak loses” has merit. This means you’re going to have to learn how to be comfortable with uncomfortable silence.  You don’t want to talk yourself out of the sale.

If you’ve done all the right things, it’s likely that you will hear a yes. Close with a handshake, and roll out the new-member gifts. We offer gifts first because we like to give before we receive. After you’ve presented your welcome gift, which may be anything from a gift card to a basket full of workout gear, start the paperwork. It will be more difficult for new members to change their mind with all the gifts in hand.

This suggested sales system can easily be inserted into your operations manual and taught to your staff. Make sure everyone is on board and understands the process, and then sit back and watch your profits increase.  If you don’t have an operations manual and/or you want to go deeper on understanding the SYSTEMs, then you can go here for more content and an opportunity to learn how to create a playbook by which you will run a successful fitness business.