The word “selling” is not a pleasant one for many personal trainers. We tend to think of the traditional high-pressure sales person, using tactics and persuasion to make a sale. We have all experienced great salespeople and horrible ones. In this series of articles, I will strive to present an empowering perspective on sales for the personal trainer and the fitness management team.
Getting Started: Personal Inventory
When starting and building your personal training business, you need to begin with a personal inventory. In order to be successful, you should know who you are, where you are, and what you want out of this profession.
Answers to the following questions will help you gain insight to your choice to be a fitness professional.
Name the top five reasons you want to be (or are) a personal trainer.
Name five qualities about yourself that make you a great personal trainer.
Are you absolutely convinced that you can help each and every client with their training program?
Why or why not? ____________________________________________________________
Many trainers have not taken the time to set goals. It is actually very simple. Can you say right now what your income goal is for this year? What is your income to date? What are you projecting as of this moment? How are you going to reach your income goals for the year? What are your plans today to work towards your goals? What have you done that has worked in the past, what has not worked? How are you judging your successes or lack thereof?
Goal setting does not include just income goals. We can and should set goals for personal growth, relationships, spiritual growth and other areas of our lives that are important to us. In terms of our personal training profession however, the following is a simple exercise to get your mind churning. You can do this either individually, or as a manager to assess and build towards financial growth.
(Assuming 50 weeks of work per year).
- Yearly income goal ________________
- Weekly income goal ________________ (Yearly goal divided by 52 weeks)
- Weekly Sessions goal ________________ (Weekly income goal divided by income per session)
- Yearly income goal $40,000 (divide by 50 weeks) $800.00 = weekly income goal
- Weekly income goal $800.00 (divide by income per session $28) 28.57 = # of sessions per week
- Weekly goal of sessions=28.57 (round up to 29)
How many appointments are necessary in order to net the weekly goal?
- Average number of cancellations per week (sessions you are unable to reschedule for the same week) = 3
- Final goal of sessions per week 32 (29+3)
Whatever your final goal, write the number down in several VISIBLE places in your living and working environment (appointment book, computer; workout cards, etc.)
Now, you have to look at this number. If you are a new personal trainer, you need to build a plan to get to this number. If you are working as a trainer already, you need to have a plan to KEEP this number or build on it. Let’s start with a new trainer.
For a New Trainer
If you are a new trainer, you need to give yourself several months to build your business. And you need a plan! We will start with creating an environment, and communicating to members in your facility.
Creating Your Environment
As personal trainers we have an obligation to members on the gym floor to provide supervision and to spot people doing certain exercises. Besides that, we have a wonderful opportunity to create an environment - our environment. A good analogy is planning a party. When you host a party or get-together in your home, you probably spend a good deal of time planning. You plan the arrangement of the furniture, where the food and beverages will be, which music you will play, and who you will invite. When the party starts, you make a conscious effort to “work the room” talking to everyone, making sure people meet and talk to each other. In general, you strive to create an environment in which your guests feel comfortable, and look to you in order to have a good time.
Now, thinking of this example, why are there so many health clubs around the country in which personal trainers are either nowhere to be found, or they can be found talking to each other or watching television? These same personal trainers then wonder why they don’t have more clients!
Your Self Image and Self Esteem
Before you start your shift on the gym floor, you should look in the mirror, make sure you look neat, your clothes are clean, and you look professional. Think about this: If you were a member of the health club and you were working out, would you want to talk to you? Why would someone want to ask you for help? Do you look energetic and approachable? Do you look tired or sloppy? Do you look like you want to be there right now? Are you telling yourself how tired you are, how you would rather be doing something else? These thoughts are not helpful in feeding your subconscious when you want to build your business!
Some things you may want to say/think to yourself and project to others:
- “I am a great personal trainer.”
- “I have the tools to help everyone with their personal training program.”
- “I feel great. I am energetic and positive.”
- “I am going to meet 10 people today and help them with their workouts.”
If you carry this positive attitude with you when you walk out to the gym floor, you will create a positive environment. As you venture onto the floor, besides any obligations specific to your facility, you should:
- Walk around the gym floor and make sure there are no glaring problems which need to be addressed immediately
- As you walk around, walk tall and with good posture.
- Smile, acknowledge, and make eye contact with members as you walk around
Your goal should be for every member working out in the gym during your shift to know that you are there, and to know your name. Your goal should be that if any person working out during your shift has a question about anything related to your facility, they should know you, and feel comfortable to approach you and ask for help. Remember, this is your place, your party, so you should act like it!
If you want to be a successful personal trainer, you need clients. If you want the members in your facility to understand how much you can help them, you need to speak to them. In order to speak to them, you have to meet them first. So, how do you meet all of your potential clients? Make a point of it!
Hit and Split
Hit and split means initiating a quick interaction with members, and then walking away. Many times members want help, but when someone stands in front of them asking do you need help, the initial reaction is to say no (get away from me and leave me alone! ). The hit and split concept lets people know you are available with no pressure or confrontation. For example, walk by, make eye contact, and simply say who you are and that you are available if they need help. (“…hey, ...my name is Annette. Let me know if you need help.”) Then keep walking.
If someone is sweating and without a workout towel, you can bring them one and tell them you are there for help if they need it. (For example, “…hey, I have a clean towel here for you (and just put it down for them), my name is Annette, let me know if you need any help”. ) Then walk away. If there is a newspaper or something you can pick up next to a member working out, make eye contact and say hello as you pick it up. Ask if it belongs to them. Anything to break the ice and – in a non-intrusive way – to let them know you are available.
In creating your environment, it is important to constantly observe what is going on around you. Look at the members working out during your shift. Who is doing what? Do you notice that the same person is doing the same workout every Tuesday and Thursday when you are working?
For example, you may see the same woman doing this workout every week:
- Stairmaster for 30 minutes. (You notice how she has poor posture, and does very limited range of motion.)
- A strength training routine including:
- leg press
- seated hamstring curl
- seated row (which she does with poor posture, without working through a full range of motion
- seated tricep extension machine
Remember, the goal is to have each member know who you are, and to work towards the opportunity to be able to help every single one of them. If you have been working on your environment, you would have already at least made eye contact with this woman. Perhaps know her name is Linda.
You then see Linda on the stretch mat, speaking to her friend about her exercise program. She is mentioning that she is unsatisfied with her rear end and the back of her upper arms (common trouble spots for women)! You could acknowledge that you hear her comments and say:
“Hey Linda, I hear what you’re saying. If you want, I can show you some exercises to work the areas you are talking about… I can do it now if you have a minute, or we can wait until the next time you come in. Which one is better for you (giving a choice is an effective way to get a commitment from the person)?
As an educated personal trainer (which is a whole other issue!) you would be able to give this woman some immediate, concise and specific tips to improve her program, based on her goals and exercise choices. For example:
- The stairmaster movement is limited range of motion, and does not target the hamstrings at the hip with enough overload.
- The seated hamstring curl machine does not target the hamstrings at the hip
- Seated row with poor posture and incomplete range of motion doesn’t target the back of the upper arms as much as possible, since the movement she wants is shoulder extension.
- Seated tricep extension machine does not target the long head of the triceps which is the area she wants to work
You could show her several more effective choices such as:
- Step ups in several different angles
- Good posture on the seated row and additional choices such as standing straight arm pull-down
- Tricep kick backs so she works the long head of the triceps more than when seated on the machine
Fact Bridge Benefit
Fact bridge benefit is a helpful sales tool in which you explain something to a member, and then connect it with a benefit to the person and their exercise program. For example, using the same scenario, you might say:
“Linda, this is a step up exercise. This would be good for you because it targets your hamstrings more at your hip (rear end). This is the area you said you wanted to work, right?” Wait for her to confirm this before moving on.
Let’s look at the various communication skills we just used:
- This is a step up exercise (fact)
- This would be good for you because…(bridge)
- It targets your hamstrings…(benefit)
Then, by asking Linda for confirmation (“This is the area you said you wanted to work, right?”), she hears herself repeat the desired goal (“Yeah, I need to work harder here.”), reinforcing her desire to get better results. We will focus more on specific communication skills in the next article.
In the mean time practice fact, bridge, benefit and confirmation with different scenarios. For example:
- Why is integrated training beneficial?
- Fact: Yes, integrated training is using the whole body in many different movements
- Bridge: This would be good for you because…
- Benefit: You make your body work the way it is meant to work, and besides that, you use more muscle with each movement. Does that make sense?
- Why is good posture important when doing a lat pull-down?
- Fact: Sitting upright is important when you do this lat pull-down
- Bridge: The reason is…
- Benefit: You target the muscles you’re trying to work when your shoulder girdle is in the right spot. Also, you put less stress on your shoulder joint. Can you feel the difference when you sit up nice and tall and in good posture?
A common mistake I often see is trainers trying to meet gym members by pointing out improper form on equipment. In simple terms, they walk up to someone they don’t know and tell them what they are doing is wrong (and then wonder why the member doesn’t want to speak to them!). A more diplomatic (and often effective) way to talk to people is to approach them on more neutral grounds first, or in a way that will make them feel POSITIVE. For example, ask their opinion on a piece of equipment.
- “Hey, I know you workout a lot. We just got that new machine over there and I was wondering if I could get your opinion - have you ever used it?”
If the person says yes, then you can ask them if they have a moment to give you their opinion. If the person says no, you can say….”do you have a minute for me to show you…?”
Remember, the goal is to simply to meet and have this person feel comfortable speaking to you. Once that happens they will be much more open for you to talk to them about their exercise program.
Another way to talk to people is to simply compliment them on something, anything! You can say…”Hey, those are great workout pants. Where did you get them?” Ask them something to which they have to give more than a yes or no answer. This brings up the next important point. People love to talk about themselves, so it is crucial for you NOT to start talking about yourself!!! Too many trainers spend way too much time speaking about themselves instead of simply listening and asking questions to the members around them.
If you start with a positive attitude, spend each and every shift observing everyone around you, if you are approachable, if you smile and work your environment, making each member aware of your presence and availability, you will spread the seeds of a long and successful career. The next articles will continue with communication/sales skills when doing assessments and orientations.