Traditionally in the health and fitness industry, prospecting has been defined as the “seeking out of new or potential clients.” Unfortunately, most prospecting techniques – such as walking the floor in the facility, performing follow-up phone calls and even delivering informative health and fitness related seminars for the public – are poorly understood, rarely used and/or viewed as too cumbersome.
In this article, we’ll focus on the ease, simplicity and value of walking the fitness floor to build your client base.
The Power of Perception
What would be your initial reaction if I told you that you had to walk the floor at your club and “prospect” for potential clients? If you’re like many other fitness professionals, your first reaction might be to cringe. But why is that? While many scientific reasons exist, the simplest explanation is that the conventional perception of “prospecting” can be scary.
But what if we started calling it connecting instead? Would that change your perception?
- Connect: to establish a rapport or relationship; relate
With this new term and definition, if I now asked you to spend time “connecting” with people and building relationships in the facility, would that seem different to you? A bit more “doable”?
Let’s focus on the mindset behind connecting and how this can put you at ease, dramatically impact the influence you have on members, and lead to better client acquisition. Are you ready?
Connecting on the Floor
Connecting with prospective clients on the fitness floor is incredibly important for a number of reasons:
- These are people who are already coming into your environment. You don’t have to persuade them to show up!
- Most of these people will not attain their desired level of fitness as quickly as they would like without assistance.
- It’s FREE marketing and advertisement for you!
- This is YOUR environment. You should be comfortable, relaxed and confident, capable of easily engaging members. If you are not comfortable in your own work environment, you may need to give it some time, get help or consider changing your occupation.
Connecting with members comes down to three steps:
1. Change Your Mindset
The battle is in the mind. To produce more favorable actions and outcomes, you have to think positively about prospecting. This paradigm shift can come from the understanding that prospecting is really connecting. Your first contact with members should lay a foundation for trust (Sugarman, 2011). We’re building relationships on that foundation, not “seeking new clients.”
This may seem like semantics, but semantics – in this case, how you communicate with yourself – is a form of self-talk and how you talk to yourself can influence your performance (Hatzigeorgiadis et al., 2009; Van Raalte et al., 1994). If your mindset is on building relationships and providing a genuine service directed at helping the member, you will drive that member on an intrinsic level. Connecting with members on an intrinsic level creates a far better emotional response (Sugarman, 2011). More importantly, this emotional response will be on their terms, not yours, which will produce better outcomes for both of you.
If your mindset is “we have to sell a member on personal training,” you will come across as a salesperson, not a personal trainer. If your mindset is on connecting with the member to build a relationship and establish rapport and trust, you will come across as an empathetic personal trainer. See the difference?
|3 Critical Ways to Shift Your Mindset in the Right Direction
|1. Know your outcome!
||What do you want to achieve when you connect with a member? Your belief will dictate your behavior, and this will match your outcome.
|2. No person or encounter is insignificant!
||Everyone matters! Your actions will reflect what type of trainer you will be for this member. Make the most of every opportunity!
|3. First impressions are everything – never pre-judge!
||You only get one shot to make a first impression. Make sure you get to know the member – making a connection – before passing a judgment or categorizing them.
2. Engage with People
With your new mindset, it's now time to build relationships. To build relationships, you need to engage people.
- Engage: to involve oneself or become occupied, participate; to attract and hold the attention of
This is where is gets fun. Yes, fun! With the mindset of building relationships, you can begin to use your strengths as a trainer, get creative and simply engage people. On top of all that, it doesn’t have to take more than a few seconds or minutes.
Way back in 2002, Annette Lang wrote a fantastic three-part article series for PTontheNet titled ”Personal Trainer Sales.” In Part 1 of the article, Annette explained the concept of “hit and split” – the idea being to make a quick and engaging contact with a member and then move on. The purpose of this type of engagement is to demonstrate that you are aware of and appreciate the member. In turn, it allows the member to be aware of you as a considerate, caring trainer. In only a few short seconds, you can begin to build a very powerful and meaningful relationship – establishing trust – with a member!
Are you willing to set aside a few seconds to engage a member? Great!
Now that you understand the beauty and simplicity of “hit and split” as a concept, how you implement it will make all the difference in the world. Remember that you want to connect with them on their terms – an intrinsic emotional connection – so you want to provide them with an engaging experience that does not interrupt their training or detract from their time, but instead gives them a memorable gesture or experience.
Imagine the following scenario that Bobby Cappuccio often uses to brilliantly illuminate this concept and one that we have all experienced:
You walk into a store and within seconds a sales person approaches you and asks that proverbial question, “Can I help you?” What is your reflexive response ninety percent of the time? “No thank you. I’m just looking.”
To avoid this same response from your members, don't use this line. Instead, let’s look at a few very simple, non-invasive and trust building ways you can engage members:
3. Deliver Value
If you have properly engaged your members, the time will come that they will take you up on your offer and ask you for help. Now you have to deliver! Not just “deliver,” but deliver value to the member. This is where you can really connect and build trust.
I want you to quickly refer back to the “Change Your Mindset” section of this article. The two key areas I want you to keep in mind are 1) establishing an emotional connection with the member on their terms, not yours and 2) shifting your mindset to be more positive about prospecting. These will be major influencers on how to make this encounter an experience that transforms into a deeper relationship.
Here is a quick scenario to help out:
A member with whom you have previously engaged approaches you on the gym floor. You already know your outcome, so you should simply smile and be ready to treat this encounter and person with the utmost respect and with your full attention to make a great first “training encounter” impression.
They ask if you would show them a few new exercises to help “firm up” their arms. You do not judge their terminology, try to correct or reword their statement, but just listen attentively to their request. When they finish, you reply, “I would love to show you a few new exercises to help you firm up your arms.” You used the same terminology and the same descriptor words showing that you were listening carefully. If you haven’t already got their name, this is the time to say, “May I ask your name, please?”
To connect with this person an as individual and on an intrinsic emotional level, ask a few quick questions to better deliver what they want rather than what you assume they want. Something like, “Before I show you a few exercises for your arms, may I ask you a few quick questions to help me choose exercises that are best suited for you?” They agree.
Here are some helpful questions to ask that will create an emotional connection and allow the member tell you what they want and like (intrinsic emotional connection on their terms). The key is to let them do the talking; you should listen, then deliver. After each of their answers, simply provide them with an affirmation such as “Great. Thank you.” There is no need for us to jump in with a lot of extra chitchat at this point (Sugarman, 2011).
Questions to ask:
- “You mentioned you wanted to “firm up” your arms. Is firming up your arms your current fitness goal or is it something else?”
- Can you show me a few of the exercises that you have been doing?
- How have these exercises worked for you?
- If good, how so?
- If not, why not?
- When exercising, would you say you prefer:
- structure or a challenge
- routine or variety
- practical or adventurous?
- “[Use their first name], you mentioned that [use their stated goal] was your fitness goal. May I ask why that is so important to you?
From these questions, we have gathered their goal(s), what exercises they have done before, whether or not these exercises helped and why, what type of exercises they want to perform and most importantly, why their goal(s) is (are) so important to them – (this is their motivation for being here so pay attention to this one). If they want structured routine that’s practical, this is more often someone who wants basic, known, traditional “textbook” exercises. If they want the challenge of adventurous variety, this is more along the lines of what many people call “functional training.” Now, we can give them exercises for their arms that emotionally connected to who they are based on what they said. They get what they want and we have created a fantastic experience and a new relationship built on trust.
Prospecting is connecting. It’s about building relationships. If this is your mindset, engaging members on the gym floor takes on a new purpose and meaning. By simply “getting to know them” and using a few well-timed gestures and questions, you can create an intrinsic emotional connection that makes them more likely to seek out your personal training services.
- Hatzigeorgiadis, A., Zourbanos, N., Mpoumpaki, S. & Theodorakis, Y. (2009). Mechanisms underlying the self-talk–performance relationship: The effects of motivational self-talk on self-confidence and anxiety. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, 10: 186–192.
- Lang, A. (2002). Personal Trainer Sales – Part 1. Personal Training on the Net. Retrieved February 27, 2012, from http://www.ptonthenet.com/articles/Personal-Trainer-Sales---Part-1-1410.
- Sugarman, R. (2011). Engaging and Retaining Clients in Healthy Behaviour Change: A Guide to Motivation for Personal Trainers and Coaches. Retrieved from http://www.roysugarman.com/engaging-and-retention.
- Van Raalte, J., Brewer, B., Rivera, P. & Petitpas, A. (1994).The relationship between observable self-talk and competitive junior tennis players' match performances. Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, 16(4): 400-415.