CEU Article Title: Corrections to The Three Most Common Mistakes Personal Trainers Make During the Sales Process
By “Big Joe” Salant, NCCPT GSM
Personal Trainers, if you’re making any of these mistakes implement the suggested corrections and you will know happiness! Miraculously, your schedule will grow fatter (which is about the only fat that we don’t mind
in this industry)! (If you already have a stacked schedule and are making over six figures in the fitness business, or if your name is above the doors on a big box gym, feel free to stop reading.) Not you? Then press on fitness sales soldier! This is for you.
Mistake #1: Rushing to book a “free personal training session” with a prospect
“Have you used your free training session yet that came
with your membership? I’ll be happy to give you a free
training session! See you tomorrow at this time?”
One of the biggest mistakes personal trainers make when booking appointments for personal training assessments is making it seem like the prospect is just coming in for an innocuous free training session. Then, when the rubber hits the road after the workout and you’re going through your price presentation, the prospect easily wiggles off the hook like this.
“Oh, I didn’t know we were going to go over programs
today, interesting, let me take these home and think about
it. By the way, wasn’t this supposed to be free?”
Correction: Effectively book a complementary PT Assessment with a pending sales event
When you book the appointment with a prospect, you want to build momentum toward the sale. The best way to do this is to convey the following message:
“You are entitled to one session with a fitness professional to go over your
goals, professionally take your body composition and measurements
and chart a path to get there, taking into consideration all three
facets: workouts, nutrition, and schedule. At the end of our session,
if you would like to start a professional program, the best time to do
so will be at the time of your assessment. This is the time that you
will be eligible for the biggest break on the price of the program.
Our gym knows that our personal training clients tend to keep
their memberships active 75% longer than other members.
Why is that? Because of the results, of course! So they provide
additional incentive to enroll in personal training at the time of
the assessment. If you want to use the assessment just to chart your
own course, you’re free to do so, by all means. However, if you want
to come on with (name of personal training dept. here), be ready
to look at special programs at the end of your assessment.”
Notice what we did there. We gave the prospect notice that they would receive a special offer only available at the time of their assessment (called a “pending event” – you can get an out-of-this-world offer, but you have to take it at ___ time). In doing so, we preemptively overcame one of the most annoying objections that we face in sales “I have to think about it.” Even more importantly, perhaps, is that we overcame the spousal objection with the same golden arrow! You may think that doing it like this is too forward or salesy. Well let me tell you what’s more salesy: springing a price sheet on a prospect at the end of their “complementary
training session.” My teams never do that.
We built the value of the assessment in an exciting manner, were straightforward in the nature of our “pending event” offer, giving reason for it, while also allowing the prospect an “out” if they didn’t want to buy personal training. Prospects respect that a lot more than the bait-and-switch tactic of the free-training-session-with-no-strings-attached-wink-wink. Wouldn’t you? Sure, you may book fewer assessments with this approach (though I’m actually convinced that isn’t the case), but the ones that you do schedule will close at a drastically higher rate.
*Quick side-note, if you can fill out the assessment form with the prospect as part of the booking process, I believe it enhances the chance of the close at least 20%. If not, no biggie, just go over as much as you can verbally. Build the rapport at the time the appointment is set. I’m sure you’ve heard this, but here it is again: prospects often make the judgment about whether or not they’re going to buy from you during the first moments of your encounter.
Mistake #2: Rushing through the assessment form to get to the workout.
“We just have a bit of paperwork to do real quick Maria and then we’ll get to the fun stuff,
I know, I know, just gym procedure, bear with me we’ll be on the floor in a second.”
By doing this you commit the following errors:
• Remove the professionalism behind a professional fitness program.
• Lose an opportunity to set the fitness professional-client relationship.
• Miss out on essential information you can learn about
the client through the interview process.
• Lose the opportunity to professionally listen to the client.
• Miss out on the opportunity to cast vision for the prospect in direct
relation to their goals (often essential to earn the client).
• Accidentally killed four pigeons (just checking if you’re still with me)
Correction: Fill out that form with your personal training prospect like their doctor!
This is an example of an assessment form, Mr. and Ms. Personal Trainer. You may not realize this yet but if you use this advice it holds the key to your future in this industry. Get familiar with it. Laminate one and put it on the ceiling above your bed. OK, that’s not the advice. This is. Each line of this form beginning from “occupation” down is a valuable tool to convert the prospect you are spending an hour of your precious time and effort with into a client. After all, if they don’t become a client, how can you change their lives through fitness and still keep food on the table?
Filling out the assessment form carefully, effectively and efficiently with the prospect establishes the professional-client relationship like nothing else in the assessment process. The mindset must be one of a doctor interviewing a patient. Eventually, you are going to prescribe the patient a professional plan for their care (we’ll be on to that when we confront Mistake #3). Ask each question carefully and listen intently. Write
notes on the back of the form. You will be amazed at the number of times the prospect will self-enroll in personal training with the information they give you. As a Personal Training Director I’ve always been baffled as to why it’s so difficult for trainers to stop babbling during the interviewing process and listen analytically. People love to talk about themselves, their dreams, and their vision for the future. Even if they
don’t provide you with any hard evidence of the fact that they need your professional fitness services (doubtful), at the very least, you may earn them as a client simply by being a good listener. Who would want a doctor that doesn’t listen carefully, who rants about random diseases every time you try to tell them what’s hurting? That’s how the majority of personal trainers sound during the prospect interview (and it kills the sale). If you do nothing else with the assessment form, please – make sure you relate their measurements to their goals, cast vision and ask closing questions during that process.
Here’s how that sounds:
“Keith, you’re 246 pounds and 32% body fat right now.” To get to your
stated goal of 185 pounds with the muscle structure you want (You said you
wanted to look like Rampage Jackson inside of the Octagon, not between
training camps, hahaha.), you’re going to need to be right under 10% body
fat. Brother, you said you would like to be there before June. It’s March. On
a scale of 1-10, how serious are you about rocking this?” (“About a ‘9’ at
least”) Here’s the deal friend. A “9” means that there’s 10% of you that’s
not sold out on this. If any fighter goes into the cage not 100% all-in, no
matter how good they are, there’s a good chance it’s going to wind up badly
for them. What you’re talking about is the fight of your life. That 185, 10%
body fat with a 315 bench press is Drago, you’re Rocky. Members don’t just
show up at the gym and get that done, follow me? (“Yeah man, totally”). But
with the right program and dedication, it’s not only possible, but in your
case Keith, probable. Wouldn’t that be awesome my man? Can you feel it?
(“Absolutely”) OK, with that in mind then, on a scale of 1-10, how serious are
you about rocking this Keith!!?” (“TEN!”) “Alright, then, we can proceed.”
[You put that “10” in your back pocket for later when you’re presenting programs.]
You should by now get the concept – each one of the questions on the assessment form gets careful attention. Go through the assessment form you use at your facility (or the one above) and practice the interview process. You’re going to use the answers that you harvest during the process when you prescribe their professional fitness program; which brings us to our third most common mistake.
Mistake #3: Creating the “mall shopping” atmosphere when presenting programs.
“We can do either a three, six, or twelve month program, go one to
five times a week depending on how many sessions you want in your
plan. You can start small and upgrade later if you want. It depends
on what you would like; what you feel comfortable with. Here are
the rates, obviously they go down the longer you are with us and the
more sessions you want. So what would you like to start with?”
The prospect’s response? It would be the same as yours:
“Wow, that’s a lot of choices, I’m gonna have to think about this for a little, let me have your card
and I’ll get back to you by the end of the week.” (aka, never) Why? Well, you
created the “mall shopping” atmosphere. You moved from fitness professional/
doctor to Walmart cashier and ruined the previous hour of both of your lives.
Correction: Using the data gathered from the assessment form and workout, prescribe the program for the client.
The personal trainers who are good at the sales process are actually presenting programs by the time they are halfway through the workout. After approximately three “yes” questions during the workout (“Gail, so you see how precise movements to the point of muscle failure in a safe environment like this – don’t want to injure that L5 again – is essential to reaching our stated goal of _____?”). When you take “the walk” back to the trainer desk with the prospect, the degree of comfort as the emphasis changes from the workout to the sale will depend on you setting the stage for the presentation during the workout in an exciting, professional manner. At the table, the presentation should go something like this:
“As we discussed during the interview and the workout Gail, we should be
able to reach our goal of _______ in three months right in time for beach
season! And nine months of progression after that should get enough
sculpted muscle on your new lean frame to increase your metabolism to
the point where you’re able to maintain your new, fitness magazine look
deep into the foreseeable future. So the twelve month program would work
best for us and the good news there is that the rates on that program are
a steal. Now you mentioned earlier when you were talking about your job
that finances were a bit tight, so here’s what we can do. Let’s start out
with one or two training sessions a week for now and I’ll make sure we’re
set on our off days with fresh, professional (name of your PT brand here)
workouts you can do on your own to maintain our progress and trajectory.
Normally, at two days a week, your per-session rate would be ____, bringing
your monthly total to only____. At one, your session rate would be ____,
which makes it just ____. But because it’s the day of your assessment, as we
discussed when we set our appointment, our facility policy is to give you a
______ motivational discount off the per-session-rate to make it even easier
to get you on the team and get you going toward your goal of _______). So
today, your total for once a week would be just_____ per session and ____
monthly. At two sessions, it’s only _____ per session and ____ monthly.
It’s your decision, which one would you like to get started with today?
Let’s say this three times slowly together: “I prescribe the plan for the
prospect based on their assessment and only give two options at the end.”
Give them more than two options and you’re leaving room for them to need time to sort through the various possibilities. Give them one and you may have to unlock yourself from a program that doesn’t work for the client (backtracking sucks and makes you look unprofessional – “Oh well, this would work too…”). Prescribe their plan. They just got finished going through the interview process with a fitness professional who set the doctor-patient relationship, listened to them, and cast vision for them with a specific means of attaining their dreams outlined clearly. They just finished a killer workout with you that embodied the plan you are presenting. They’re more pumped to enroll with you now than they ever will be. Go for it, calmly, assuming the answer will be the same as a patient trustingly taking a prescription to the pharmacy.
After you say the words, “which one will work for you today?” please, do yourself a huge favor and close your mouth until the prospect speaks. First one to talk loses.
And if the prospect needs more information before they make a decision (i.e. they give you an objection), use their specific answers to the questions in the interview to form a few yes questions, and then re-close. Overcoming objections will be our next session together, but for now, correct these three common mistakes and prepare for blastoff!
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