You’re looking at your sales numbers for the month, and they’re nowhere near what you’d projected. Not even close.
You’re not really sure what the problem is. There are people coming through your door, but they don’t seem to stick around. There’s the folks who stay for the complimentary session (or free week of group training) but don’t actually sign up…and the ones who enroll in a 30-day challenge but leave as soon as their challenge or trial period is over.
If things keep going this way, you’re not sure how you’re going to keep paying the rent for your facility… or the bills that are piling up… or pay off your credit cards.
If you’re struggling with sales, you’re not alone. MANY fitness businesses have that same problem. In today’s post, I’m going to share with you the most important keys to helping more clients commit to their goals (and your programs)– but that’s not the end goal. The end goal is to build strong relationships with each and every new customer and turn them into a happy, long-term committed client… so we’ll take a look at some key retention strategies you might be missing too.
Here at NPE, we’ve transformed the lives of thousands of fitness business owners around the world by teaching them how to have the right mindset for success in selling, confidently charge what they’re worth, and master a seven-and-a-half step communication process that allows you to help more clients commit to their goals.
When you put these three important components together, and then layer on a great onboarding process for new clients joining your program… you WILL see your client base, revenue, and profits grow QUICKLY.
If used car salesmen are the first thing you think of when you hear the word sales, or you find yourself lacking confidence when it comes time to ask someone for money (you just want to help people, right?) then those are poor beliefs you’ve got to overcome.
That all begins with your MINDSET.
Too many great coaches are unable to help people change their lives because they lack the confidence and self-belief to ask for money and charge what they’re worth.
And here’s the truth… if you don’t believe in yourself, or your own self-worth and the value you give to others… then why should anyone else?
Get your head right.
The work you do is changing people’s lives.
And if you’re delivering that kind of value to your clients, then you should be equally compensated.
Worried about what other facilities or personal trainers are charging?
I’m here to tell you that’s much less important than you may think!
It doesn’t matter what the discount gym is charging, or that your rates are much higher. (A Mercedes Benz doesn’t care how much a Honda costs.)
When it comes to personal services and fitness… have you ever heard a prospective client say “I want to hire the cheapest personal trainer I can find?” No.
When it comes to their health and body… people want the best.
And they don’t expect the best to be cheap… so stop positioning yourself that way. Your price sets the tone for the perceived value of your services to a potential customer.
Does a coach who charges 200/hr teach a better squat than one who is charging 50/hr?
Maybe… but maybe not!
Listen it’s far more sustainable to create value in your fitness business by being the best at what you do, rather than the cheapest.
It also doesn’t matter if your rates are higher than what YOU would pay for training.
People’s health, performance, and body image affect every aspect of their lives. That means that they’re willing to put money into their health and fitness if they’re confident that doing so will help them achieve their goals.
Owning your rates and being confident in the value that you deliver to your clients directly aligns with the perceived value a prospective client will invest into working with you and your team.
The best way to establish consistency with sales is to use a SYSTEM to ensure you’re having effective conversations. Not only will this turn lost sales into repeatable success, having a system for the way you engage prospective client conversations also means that you can TEACH that system to staff you hire and train, which will allow you to grow beyond doing everything yourself.
AUTO-CLOSER® is the world famous sales system we’ve been teaching for over 10 years. It will teach you how to communicate in a way that inspires prospective clients to commit to their goals (and join your programs). Here’s a quick overview of the steps we teach to ensure you’re having more effective conversations with everyone you speak with:
Pre-qualification is a half-step that takes place before you see a client face-to-face.
Two things must be in place in order for you to be able to enroll a new client. They must1) be able to afford you and 2) be able to make a buying decision. If both of those things aren’t in place, then you’re wasting your time—and theirs—with a consultation.
Even if a client really likes your program and everything you have to offer, they won’t be able to sign up if it’s simply out of their budget.
If a prospect isn’t able to make a buying decision—often because they have to consult with their spouse—then you may have lost a sale you’d otherwise have landed. Your prospect hasn’t been trained in how to present your services, and likely will just mention the price (without any overview on how that value is created). Ignore this rule at your own demise… ensure all prospective clients bring other decision makers with them to their initial consultation.
Establishing rapport is about helping your prospective client relax and feel more comfortable. All too often we forget the emotional place someone is in when they finally pick up the phone to contact you and come into your facility for the first time. They may be intimidated, or uncomfortable with their health and body image, etc. They want to feel like they’re in a safe environment and can trust you.
Your appearance, body language, and the way you engage with clients in conversation can make a huge difference in building trust.
In this step, you’ll want to ask your clients a few questions. First, you’ll want to ask them to tell you a little bit about their fitness goal. Then, ask them why those goals are important to them. This helps you understand the emotional driver that has compelled them to take action. Next, ask them how committed they are to achieve their goals on a scale of 1 to 10—and what makes them give you that number. This will give you information on how they see their level of commitment, and help you identify any gaps to get them to an 8, 9, or a 10.
We call this step “holding the mirror” because it helps your clients be clear about what their needs are.
As a fitness professional when someone walks through your door, you’re able to see their needs clearly. You can tell that their stress levels are high, they’re probably not getting enough sleep at night, are overeating, and aren’t moving their body.
However, your prospect doesn’t see these needs nor do they understand them well. Your job is to help them see that clearly in this step.
Alright so your prospect is experiencing a lot of negative symptoms of being unhealthy, but they don’t really understand what has caused these problems. Your job is to build the problem which helps them move forward by creating urgency around solving it.
In this step, you’ll guide people step-by-step through an explanation of what you do, in order to help them understand how to get from where they are to where they want to be. A visual aid, such as a PowerPoint presentation, can increase their comprehension of your message up to 400%. Show them visually, and explain verbally how your program works, the results they can expect to achieve, and why they’d be a fool to do business with anyone other than you.
If you’ve completed steps 1-5, closing should be easy. You’re simply presenting your prospect with the solution to their problem by giving them the opportunity to sign up. When done properly, this is a natural extension of your sales process.
If you’ve missed a step then you get to the bonus round of objection handling.
If you are at this step then chances are you either haven’t done a good job of Pre-Qualifying (Step ½) or you haven’t built their problem big enough (Step 4). Fortunately, there is a process for Objection Handling, follow these 5 steps: listen, question the objection, rebuild the problem, confirm the solution, re-close the sale.
Getting clients through the door is great. And signing those clients up as members is even better. But establishing long-term relationships with clients–so they can get the results they want AND help you keep your lights on, is the best of all.
If you want to build a foundation where clients will never want to leave your fitness business, you’ll need to create such a great experience for them that your business really stands out as something they’ve never experienced before.
The equation we use to describe vale is V = CE + R + R.
That stands for Value = Client Experience + Relationship + Results
Take charge of engineering a great client experience from the beginning by setting reasonable and achievable expectations for your clients in their first month.
Most people who join a gym fail because they start too hard, too fast, too soon. And all too often clients (or coaches) set the bar too high. Think of the guy who has the goal of losing 20 pounds in their first ten days—or even their first month—which is both unrealistic and unsustainable. He doesn’t achieve this unrealistic goal… and therefore he feels like a failure… and quits.
As a coach, one of the most powerful things you can do is successfully guide new clients through their first 30 days by helping them set reasonable expectations and goals that’ll help them gain momentum and come out winning. Added bonus: they’ll also build confidence and good habits for success.
Rapid weight loss should never be the goal if you want to set a deconditioned client up for long-term success. Instead, help them set simple health goals like sleeping an hour more a night, reducing their stress, or just becoming more aware of what they’re eating. New clients may get excited and want to start training six days a week, but committing to moving just a few times a week is a more sustainable goal. Setting reasonable expectations with your client from the beginning will help them find success.
In addition to helping clients set goals that will help them build momentum, you’ll want to create a formal onboarding plan and then train your staff in it. That way, everyone is engaged in the process of supporting new members.
In group classes, you can even use a wristband or some other kind of visual marker as a system of internal communication among your team, so that coaches know to support and engage with new clients a little more.
Here’s an example of what a 30-day onboarding process might look like:
Week 1: The first week can include a formal orientation and introduction to staff. It’s also a good time to set expectations for the next four weeks, and give clients information on what success would look like. Again, set goals and benchmarks that are easy to achieve for them to work on.
Week 2: The second week is a good time to help your clients identify their support system (coworkers, spouse, family) outside of the gym to help support their goals so they can succeed through the challenging aspects of making lifestyle changes. It’s also helpful to introduce them to other clients so that they feel like a part of a community and make some friends inside the gym.
Week 3: By the third week, your clients are starting to settle in a bit and may feel more familiar with and comfortable in your facility. This is the perfect time to overdeliver with a small gift, such as a t-shirt or hat or water bottle advertising your gym.
Week 4: As clients transition from onboarding to full-fledged members in the fourth week, help them celebrate their graduation with some type of social proof of that achievement such as a certificate, a t-shirt, a picture on social media, or something else to help them celebrate completing their first month.
Emphasizing a client’s first 30 days in your onboarding process is no reason to neglect your long-time clients–especially if you want them to stick around! Make sure you’re measuring customer satisfaction even for folks who have been training with you for years.
How you do this may vary depending on the type of coaching you offer, who your client is (their age, where they are in their fitness journey, etc.) You can send out a quarterly email survey, especially when working with groups. If you’re a personal trainer, you can ask for feedback from clients directly while conducting regular assessments and helping them set new goals. Just make sure to collect feedback and modify your programs accordingly.
Some people think upselling is about getting more money from people by selling them stuff they don’t need. That’s not how the best businesses do it.
Here’s a fact:
Good businesses sell a product or service then deliver it. GREAT businesses are constantly asking themselves how they can better serve their clients in solving their problems and achieving their goals. And often these solutions come in the form of additional products or services.
In some cases, clients are struggling with nutrition, so offering nutrition services and coaching can be a helpful benefit.
But here’s the mistake too many coaches and fitness business owners make.
Don’t give additional services away… charge for them!
People rarely value that which they don’t pay for.
The more problems you solve for people, the more they’ll value their relationship with you and your business. Even if you already offer additional products and services, it’s worth revisiting how you can help serve people better and help them solve their problems and achieve their goals faster.
Selling isn’t a dirty word—it’s about helping more clients commit to their goals. Until they do that, you can’t help them!
Once they’ve committed, you’ll want to help them set realistic short-term goals so they can build momentum and come out winning. And you’ll want to guide them through a 30-day onboarding process.
From there, you can continue to provide value through ongoing service delivery, and by offering (and charging) for additional products and services when appropriate.
Follow the six steps outlined here and you WILL see your client base, revenue, and profits grow QUICKLY.