People love to buy stuff. All sorts of stuff. What people don’t like is to be sold stuff. Personally, I can’t stand going to look for a new car. It’s a nightmare. The last thing in the world I need is to be pressured into buying something. I hate that. In fact, like a lot of people, I’ll resist making a purchase just because I disliked the sales person. A purchase that I was already planning on making had they not tried to pressure me.
Professional sales people know that pressing to close the sale is a great way to lose the sale. Pressure is for amateurs. I laugh at people who look at sales people as great “closers.” A pro let’s the prospect close themselves. Now this may seem quite strange, but a great way to do that is to act slightly more negative than the prospect is positive.
Before this gets too confusing please allow me to explain something. I teach fitness professionals “no-pressure” sales techniques so prospects have to ask them to take their money. Essentially, they “close” themselves. That is professional selling. And while I could write a book on the subject, please realize one of the core concepts you need to understand is for this to take place the prospect must discover for themselves why they should hire you. Nothing in the world that you explain to them will allow this to happen. However, if you ask questions in the correct manner the results will amaze you.
Before I get to a real simple example to prove my point, here are the two other core concepts you need to be aware of:
- Prospects buy/hire for their reasons, not yours.
- Prospects buy/hire for emotional reasons, not logical ones.
Here’s a very basic exchange between a personal trainer and prospective fitness client:
Prospect: Why should I hire you?
A personal trainer with no sales training at all would more than likely begin to detail every feature of the service they provide and their qualifications. More highly educated trainers will think they are being savvy by “selling” the prospect on the benefits of their service. While this is certainly better than “selling “features it pales in comparison to replying this way to the prospect:
Trainer: Great question. I’ve got no idea. What are you looking for in a personal trainer?
Please take a very close look at the above and how it applies to the three core concepts explained earlier. Let’s break the response down into parts.
Great question – You instantly bond with your prospect by first replying with a very complimentary statement.
I’ve got no idea – You act SLIGHTLY more negative than the prospect to put yourself into position to answer their question with a question.
What are you looking for in a personal trainer? – You begin down the road to implementing the three core concepts by asking this simple question. It’s the start of:
- Allowing the prospect to discover for themselves why they should hire you.
- You begin to find out why they would hire you so you can place the emphasis of your conversation.
- You begin to find the emotional reason why they would have any interest at all in hiring a fitness professional.
If you respond with a positive response, giving a sales pitch, you’ll never give yourself the best possible chance to close the sale. If you think back to past sales experiences you’ve had I’ll guarantee you you’ll agree with me. Look at it this way, you could list just about every benefit in the world that fitness offers, but if you miss the one thing your prospect was looking for you’ve blown your sale.
Please realize I’m not telling you to be a jerk to your prospects. I’m not suggesting you have a negative attitude. Another way to put it would be to “play dumb” or act a little skeptical towards any questions they ask you. Here’s another very basic example of how being SLIGHTLY more negative than your prospect is positive closes sales.
Prospect: This all makes sense to me. I think I’m going to do this.
Trainer: Really? That’s surprising. I didn’t realize you thought it was such a great idea. Why is that?
The prospect will then go on to “close” themselves. Not one ounce of pressure from the personal trainer. Whatever the prospect says to the question, “Why is that?” is them “closing” themselves. It was all their idea. You had nothing to do with it other than to guide the prospect to their final decision.
Notice the key to the exchange. Instead of going for the kill by telling the prospect what a great idea it is and they should definitely do it you act the tiniest bit negative. I’m not telling you to be so negative that you attempt to talk the prospect out of it. But by simply wondering why the prospect would want to hire you they are allowed to “close” themselves with absolutely no pressure from you or on them. It really is as simple as that.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, not only is their zero-pressure on your prospect, but there’s none on you, the trainer, either. I don’t know of any other part of the profession that worries trainers as much as the sales aspect. Believe me, while it used to drive me nuts too, we all blow it completely out of proportion. It’s really not much more than having a conversation. So long as you guide the conversation in the correct direction.
I’ve seen lots of advice offered to fitness professionals about sales being a series of open-ended questions. Well, to an extent that is true. But there is nothing more powerful in the realm of sales than going negative on your prospects. Joe Stankowski of AbsoluteFitnessUSA.com responded to a prospect this way when she told him she had lost four pounds by changing her eating habits in the past few weeks. His response?
“That’s great! It sounds like you’ve discovered the ‘secret.’ What could you possibly need me for?”
The result? She let loose with every reason SHE could think why she needed to hire him and Joe got himself a new client. A client that “closed” themselves.
Selling fitness services this way takes some time and getting used to. But if you remember the three core concepts from this article whenever you are in front of a prospect you’ll be well on your way.