The following is an excerpt from Sherri’s book The Successful Trainer’s Guide to Marketing.
Have you taken a sales training course?
Many personal trainers are uncomfortable with selling. They’d like the client to hurry up and buy the sessions so they can get going on what they know and do best. Trainers are scared of pushing the “hard sell” or being too aggressive. But, to succeed as a personal trainer, you must become a top‑notch salesperson. Holding the highest credentials will make no difference if you can’t get clients to purchase sessions with you. Developing sales skills not only enables you to generate a higher income but also allows you to impact more people’s lives.
Let’s start off by correcting a misconception. “Closing the sale” is the term used to describe the process of asking for the client’s money. The term can have a negative meaning to trainers who associate it with pressure tactics. But you do not need to be a high‑pressure salesperson or use unsavory tactics. You do have to ask potential clients to purchase sessions, and to respond to their concerns. That response is called “overcoming objections.”
Almost any objection to purchasing sessions can be dealt with in a soft, non-aggressive but assertive manner. Success with objections starts with showing more value than risk to personal training with you. With personal training, “No” generally means “I don’t know.” People come to you because they are interested.
When handling a concern or an objection, try the following system:
- Listen to the entire concern.
- Show understanding.
- Ask questions.
- Give information.
- Convince the client you can help.
The following scenarios give some ideas for responding to common client concerns.
Concern: “I’ll never stick to it.”
“You’re concerned about sticking to the program. I can understand that, and that’s why you need a personal trainer, Sam. I will design a routine that will help you achieve the results you want. I will regularly update your program to give you variety and keep you challenged. And, of course, you’ll have me to keep you motivated and on track.”
“Julie, at first, a lot of my other clients were concerned about sticking to the program, too, but it’s now become a habit for them. In just a few months, exercise will become a part of your routine, the same as taking a shower or brushing your teeth. The results you see will really keep you motivated. And, Julie, it’s my job to make sure you stick to it!”
“Joe, that’s the beauty of personal training. When you make an appointment with me, it’s an appointment you can’t miss‑‑just like a doctor’s appointment. So you’re forced to stick to your goals. If you don’t make it for an appointment, I’ll be calling and demanding to know why! You can’t lose!”
Concern: “I can’t afford it.”
“I can respect that you want to make sure you get the best value for your money. Let’s review your goals and what personal training can offer you so you can decide for yourself.” [Remind her of everything she wants to accomplish and how personal training will help her achieve those things.] “Wouldn’t you agree that your health and fitness are worth the small investment?”
“I have many clients who were in the same situation, but then they realized that the average person spends at least $50 on incidental items like fast food, entertainment and dinners. Jill, you don’t need to spend any more than you’re already spending. All you need to do is invest in something that’s really important to you.”
“Bill, I really want to help you achieve your goals and I can accommodate any financial situation. Not all my clients see me every week. If you can’t afford that, why don’t we see each other once every 2 weeks or maybe once a month? That way, at least I can help you move toward your goals. Don’t you think your goals are worth investing in one session every month?”
Provide other options, such as partner or group training. Suggest meeting twice a week for only half‑hour sessions instead of hour sessions.
Concern: “I don’t have the time.”
“I can understand your concerns about time. That’s exactly why personal training is for you. Working with a personal trainer will ensure that you don’t waste any time in the gym, and you get maximum results from your workouts. It’s the results that interest you, right?”
“I know that your health and appearance are important to you--that’s why personal training is perfect for you. All you have to do is show up for the session. I’ll have everything ready to go and a program that will get results quickly. Don’t you think that will save you a ton of time?”
“I can certainly understand that your time is valuable and you want to make the best use of it! In fact, a lot of my clients feel exactly the same way. They all have work, family and social commitments that compete for their time, leaving very little time for workouts. But they’ve found that exercise is what holds it together for them. It keeps them sane! Their exercise program gives them more energy, greater confidence and a higher level of stamina. When they exercise, they feel more productive, so they get things done more quickly, with time left to enjoy the finer things in life. Wouldn’t you love to have more energy and be more productive in your life? Good! You just have to choose your priorities.”
Concern: “I want to think about it.”
“I’m glad you want to think this over, Alex. It shows me you take this decision seriously. Let’s review some of the things we’ve talked about so you can make a more informed decision.” [Remind him of everything he wants to accomplish and how the benefits of personal training outweigh the benefits of exercising on his own.] “In view of all this, it sounds like you’ve already made the logical decision. Is there anything else stopping you from starting your exercise program?”
“You mentioned that you’ve been thinking about personal training and achieving these goals for some time. Do you realize that if you had started when you first began thinking about it, you would already have the results we’ve talked about? Imagine how good you’d feel! Let’s get you started today so you can start seeing those results soon!”
Concern: “What are your prices?”
You will get this question often. Before you answer it, discuss the potential client’s history and goals, and provide an action plan. Then you can comfortably offer her training options and price packages, because her decision will be based not only on prices but also on the relationship you have just developed. The conversation starts with the client saying something like this: “Hi. I would like to know how much personal training costs.” You could answer:
“Well, that depends on your goals. We have a variety of personal training packages to meet anyone’s situation. Let me ask you a couple of questions so I can better direct you. Are you exercising now? Really, how often? Excellent! Do you have any injuries I should know about? . . . ”
Concern: “I’d like to purchase just one session.”
A potential client may not understand what personal training is all about and may really believe she can get everything she needs by investing in only one session. Of course, we know this is not realistic. Be honest. Inform her that one session is not enough time to design a solid program that includes cardiovascular training; muscle conditioning for the upper body, lower body and torso; and flexibility--with time left to discuss posture, nutrition and lifestyle. Let her know that after only one session she will walk away with more questions than answers and will be frustrated with the rushed process.
Explain that in the beginning it is better to invest in the process so you can design an effective program, and then she can begin training on her own. Tell her you will need 5 hours of sessions to design a complete program, and then she can begin seeing you just once or twice every 2 months.
Concern: “I’ll buy a 5‑session package and then follow the program on my own.”
After a couple of years of following their original personal training program, clients wonder why they’re no longer getting results. Right from the beginning, you need to educate each client that after about 4 to 8 weeks, her body will adapt to the program you have designed, and the program will need to be adjusted and advanced if she wants to continue experiencing positive changes.
Inform her that she will need to see you one or 2 times every one to 2 months so you can make the appropriate changes. It’s also a good idea to book her for future appointments ahead of time, reserving time in your schedule, so she doesn’t allow too much time to lapse between program updates. If you leave it up to your client, it may be 3 to 6 months before she returns to update her program. If she doesn’t want to book ahead, make a note in your day planner to call her in about 6 weeks to book the reassessment.
Closing the Sale
I know you are not a personal trainer because you love selling but because you love helping people. But you need to sell to get people to experience your services! Remember that selling is not a bad thing! You are selling very good things: improved health and fitness, more energy, enhanced confidence and self‑esteem, longevity. You must believe in yourself and your services.
(Reprinted with permission of IDEA Health & Fitness Association, www.ideafit.com. Copyright 2000 under international copyright laws. All rights reserved.)