I Have a Question for You: Who’s driving the sales process – you, or the health club guest?

Selling a health club membership is like driving a car down the highway: the person who asks the questions gets to sit in the driver’s seat and control the direction of the sale, while the passenger—the person who answers the questions—goes along for the ride. Unfortunately, many health club sales people feel that they are selling when they respond to their prospect’s questions.

With the belief that “telling is selling,” many health club salespeople have been trained to spend the majority of their time talking about their clubs features and programs. It is an ineffective approach, though, and will only invite comparison to other clubs. The most effective way to control the sale with a guest in your health club is to ask more questions. It’s that simple.

We want to be careful to not mistakenly believe that demonstrating how smart or knowledgeable we are about the club and will help our prospect make a buying decision. In reality, the prospective new member takes control of the sale whenever he moves into the driver’s seat by asking questions.

You can also lose control of the sale if you aren’t asking the right kinds of questions. Many health club sales people who have learned to ask questions all too often sound like this:

“If I could lower that joining fee and save you money, would you be interested?” “What will it take to earn your business?”

The problem with questions like these is that they do not help you gain the knowledge and information you need to effectively present a solution to your prospects problem— and these questions only demonstrate a lack of sales ability that will quickly cause the prospect to lose interest in the phone call, the tour or the membership price presentation – or stop driving and get out of the car.

Instead, let’s ask high-quality questions that will not only make your prospect think but will also demonstrate your health club’s product knowledge and expertise. For example, focus on these:

  • the prospect’s goals,
  • his super objective (hot button)
  • his fitness challenges

This approach helps you gain more insight to your prospect’s situation, which means you will be able to present an attractive solution while selling on benefits and results, not features and price… and get him to join your club today.

Here are some proven tips to help you develop good sales questions when touring your health club with your prospect::

  1. Consider the person who is touring the club. Probe. Probe. Probe. Questions about the prospect’s goals, super objective and the challenges and barriers that are preventing her from reaching those target goals will give you valuable insight. Remember, professional health club salesmanship is more about gathering information than giving information.
  1. As a professional health club salesperson, determine your key objective with your guest. What information do you require in order to move the sales process forward or determine the best solution for your prospect or guest? Your questions will vary depending on the prospect. I remember first starting in sales, and if I could find out the first thing they were going to do when they lost the weight, I knew I could close them today.
  1. Use “what” questions. What caused the weight gain? What were you doing when you were in your best shape? What action are you taking right now to achieve your goals? What specific challenges or obstacles are preventing you from reaching your goal? What kind of results are you expecting? By determining the cause of your prospects problems, you will be able to better adjust your tour and presentation…and then show your prospects how the program at your health club is a solution.

In today’s ultra-competitive health club world it is actually easy to stand out from the competition. Most health club sales people are so focused on trying to get the sale that they don’t learn anything about their prospect’s situation. If you truly want to control the sales process in your club and positively influence the outcome, you must teach yourself to ask questions instead of talking. Contrary to popular belief, telling is NOT selling.

Now, put yourself in the driver’s seat go ask the right questions!

Should you invest in Sales Training for your Health Club Staff?

Health Club sales training is a must for any fitness facility wishing to secure a competitive advantage in their marketplace. This has always been important, but it’s even more important now than ever.

The ability to sell memberships, personal training, etc. is fundamental to success in the fitness business and the full effort of the sales team is essential. The health club sales team brings in the revenue that writes the check of everybody in the gym from the administrative staff to the cleaning crew to the owner.  Unless a health club can generate membership sales there is no revenue and there is no business.

The only thing worse than training your health club membership sales staff and having them leave….is NOT training your membership staff and having them stay.

Here are some thoughts why health clubs and gyms should consider investing in regular sales training:

  • Improve membership sales and productivity:  Just a 10% increase in the membership sales of one membership rep would offer a quick return on investment. 
  • Gain a competitive advantage over other health clubs: Many fitness facilities do not properly train their membership sales team. Health clubs and gyms that train and invest in their employees are also strengthening their own competitive position. A competitive advantage could mean the difference between success, survival or disappearance. New sales ideas and strategies learned from a proven health club sales training program give your fitness facility a strong advantage against other gyms in your area…even a slight advantage can make all the difference in that next membership sale. 
  • Increase employee satisfaction and staff retention: Everybody wants to feel good in their jobs. Health club sales training develops the abilities of membership sales personnel and encourages them to use their natural talents and abilities in the membership sales process. This helps to establish better relationships with guests and members. 
  • Confident membership sales staff: Confidence is a must when it comes to health club sales. A confident membership sales rep feels good about what they do, speaks with authority about the fitness facilities services and products and transfers the same confidence to guests and members. This confidence is crucial in making membership sales and in getting guests and members to join your health club. 
  • New creative ideas and inspiration: Implementing the new ideas and strategies learned in health club sales training makes selling memberships more exciting and simplifies the process. Working in fitness sales should be fun as well as providing an exciting daily challenge and opportunity. The idea is to create an atmosphere that allows a motivated person to act. Health Club sales training will help to do this. 
  • Motivated membership sales team: Membership sales reps are always more motivated when they can see a positive outcome as a result of their actions. This combination of confidence and motivation is a very powerful mixture in any health club situation. 

Health club membership sales reps that have the motivation and confidence in themselves will sign up new members who are not only satisfied members but members who will also refer their friends.  We all know that there is no better way of marketing your health club than word of mouth advertising. We instinctively have more confidence in a fitness facility when it has been recommended by somebody we know. This is particularly the case where the health club we are selling is a more expensive one.  For those of you competing against lower-priced competition, this can be the difference-maker.

Now, go get some health club sales training!

Do You Inspire Your Employees? Here are 10 Ways to Do It.

If you own or manage a health club, you should already know that one of your most important duties is inspiring your employees. It’s not just a nice thing – it’s a requirement. Why? Because managers are responsible for optimizing performance and retention – and uninspired employees don’t do their best work. Over time, those uninspired employees result in a club that no longer thrives.

Uninspiring managers often need to kick it up a couple notches. So with that, here are a few ideas for how to inspire others.

  1. Listen more. Speak less. Show your employees that you value and respect their input. This applies to your team members and peers.
  2. Represent your employee’s needs to senior management and with your peers. Take the initiative to make things better, and Wow — that will speak volumes about your intention to serve them. Inspiring, isn’t it?
  3. Achieve your goals, then beat them — and don’t rest until you do. Managers who settle with mediocre performance (even if they can make the case that it’s not their fault) are uninspiring. People want to work for successful leaders.
  4. Be a courageous role model. When managers demonstrate courage, they inspire the rest of us to do the same and we will respect them all the more.
  5. Run away from politics! Most people are sick of company politics and would gladly follow and respect leaders who rejected the gossip and muckety muck – even if they don’t agree with the managers all the time.
  6. Spend time in their shoes. Better yet, trade places with your employees every now and then. Show them you want to understand what their world looks and feels like. Bonus: you will learn tons in the process!
  7. Allow yourself to gain inspiration from others. Share your role models and why they inspire you.
  8. Reject those over the top perks. Good for you; you’ve earned the promotion. Don’t flaunt your goodies and take a stand to reject the big perks that separate you from your team. Think about how you felt when you were in their positions. Try to spread the wealth on great experiences like conferences, trainings, and other shared perks.
  9. Be the best expression of your unique style. Everyone is different, so don’t turn into a corporate clone. What’s more, be the classiest version of you possible.
  10. Take a stand and be bold. Share your perspective and practice openness. The most inspiring leaders have a strong vision for how things ought to be.

Have you been a bit too comfortable with things? You may not need a big change to inspire others; just remember to consistently “fill” your team with inspirational fuel.

Feel free to add to this list in the comments.

An Inexperienced Health Club Sales Staff and Their Seven Most Common Mistakes

The heart of true customer service is a commitment to deliver your members and prospects the most professional sales and service possible. But, there are some pitfalls. In working with many health clubs across the country, we work with many facilities with new or inexperienced salespeople, which may or may not include the front desk staff serving as salespeople.

We recently completed a study for a health club that was struggling with its newly hired membership sales reps. As you read our findings, think about your team stacks up:

  1. Thinking small. Want bigger sales? Think bigger. Ask these questions: “How high is high?” and “What is my maximum potential?” Over and over I see the new or inexperienced salespeople only selling the lowest price membership the club has to offer. 
  1. Lack of preparation. There is an old saying: “Success happens when opportunity meets preparedness!” We find that too many health club owners are just throwing new sales reps in the fire with little or no training.  I asked one sales rep to see her price presentation sheet and she informed me that she just writes the membership prices on a back of a piece of paper. Not exactly a prepared recipe for success. 
  1. Failing to establish and/or maintain rapport. All too often the new sales reps just dives in for the sale. The key here is to talk about something you may have in common, be respectful, do some fact finding on the prospect’s goals and why they are important – and THEN move toward the sales message. 
  1. Failing to really commit and establish themselves as experts in their field. Again, this is about preparedness. Naturally, you wouldn’t throw someone into sales for your club who knows nothing about fitness. Even a person who knows a limited amount, though, can be bolstered with information so as to exude confidence when talking about the club. 
  1. Not listening. 90% of salespeople never listen, and are doomed to ineffectiveness. This one is a biggie, particularly when we’re rushed or feeling pressure. When new sales reps do nothing but talk, talk, talk, they most certainly will never find out much about the health club guest. Feature-dumping will only encourage the guest to check out other clubs. 
  1. Failing to ask for the order. This may be hard to believe, but only 70% of all health club sales folks NEVER ask for the membership sale. Do yours?  Such phrases as How does that sound…What do you think…Do you have any questions, don’t count.  This isn’t asking for the sale.  Asking for the sale requires decent boldness: “Let’s get you started today, Mr. Smith.” (Then be quiet). 
  1. Poor or no follow up. Follow up and follow through truly sets the great salespeople apart from the mediocre ones. The ongoing responsibility of the health club owner is to continually come up with new reasons for the sales rep to call back previous club The club needs to have a plan to continually reintroduce the sales rep with the non member. 

So, how do you and your team stack up? How can you help them make the changes they need to become a professional salesperson and provide value-added service?

Ask yourself how you fare on each of these areas. Would you give yourself a passing mark? Which ones would need a little work? How will you change to make sure you give your customers the most professional service possible?

Give your team a chance to win by reminding them of these success tactics. Remind them to keep focused and keep working toward their goals of helping the client make a decision that is good for the client and profitable for the company.


Outlast, Outsell and Outsmart Your Health Club Competition

As the competition of more new clubs continues to grow, there isn’t a single one of us who doesn’t consider competitive marketing and salesmanship as top priorities.

Your greatest achievement as a health club owner lies in trumping the fitness competition in the area of expanding membership sales. Here are some thoughts on accomplishing that expansion:

  1. Know your competition. It’s essential to understand all you can about the other clubs in your area. If you don’t already have copies of your competitors’ advertising and brochures and can’t recite their key selling points and messages, now is the time to make it happen. Otherwise, how can you hope to successfully position against those clubs?

  1. Capitalize on your specialty. Once you know everything possible about your primary competitors, you can identify an offering of your health club that’s unique or special. Take a long, hard look at the current programs in your health club. If necessary, alter your classes or services themselves, bundle in additional features or find a way to deliver a similar core programming or service in a way that uniquely meets the needs of your members. Then, build your marketing campaigns around this central specialty theme.

  1. Tackle new audiences. If you’ve reached the maximum market share of a particular member niche, why not try a new one? You may be able to add variations of your product (also known as line extensions) that will stimulate sales from a whole new set of customers. You can also launch a new media campaign targeting ethnic audiences or a different age group, who may embrace your product or service with a minimum amount of alteration.

  1. Offer more bang for the buck. Some product and service providers traditionally compete based on discount pricing, but for many other types of businesses, cutting prices is often detrimental and sends the wrong message. The concept of “value” is, well, valuable. If you offer a service, for example, and charge the same rates as your chief competitors, cutting your prices may make you look suspiciously cheap and inspire customers to wonder what’s “wrong” with your club or the services it provides. A better idea is to offer something of additional value that your customers will find tempting.

  1. Add a sales channel. Are you presently selling via one channel alone, such as exclusively through a brick-and-mortar store or by catalog only? Adding another channel, such as online sales, gives your customers more choices and allows them to shop more often and at their convenience. (It’s likely that most of your competitors offer sales through multiple channels too.) What’s more, studies show that customers who shop through more than one channel will spend more (often as much as three times more) than customers who shop through one channel alone.

  1. Dial in to your members. You have to understand what your customers want if you want to remain highly competitive. Unfortunately, your customers’ needs and preferences sometimes change on a dime, so you should have systems in place to regularly solicit their feedback. As a club owner, you’re in the enviable position of being closer to your customers than some of your big-business competitors. You may know many of your customers or clients by name and even have the advantage of being able to contact them periodically to check in. To take it a step further, be sure to initiate regular surveys as well as solicit ongoing feedback via your website.

  1. Ask for the sale.  This may seem like an obvious statement, but the reality is complacency is the enemy of small-business success. If you’re not continually asking your best prospects and customers for their business, you can be sure your competitors are. Set up and monitor an ongoing marketing program that reaches out to your former customers and new prospects year-round. The key to success is to have a consistent marketing message and select a mix of media and tactics (email marketing, direct mail and social media, for example) that “touch” prospects and customers with sufficient frequency. This will help you drive your message home and stand out from your toughest competitors.

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