The Art of Selling Personal Training

Trinity Perkins | 25 Mar 2019

When you think of your favorite part about being a personal trainer, does sales come to mind? As you’re looking forward to starting a career in fitness, is sales top on the list of things you can’t wait to dive into? Ask any personal trainer what they love about training and they’ll probably say things like seeing their clients get results, writing dynamic workouts, studying up on the latest industry trends, attending conferences and being around the energy on the gym floor. The sales process rarely makes the list. Many talented trainers leave the industry, don’t branch off to start their own training businesses or never realize their dream of training full time due to a lack of confidence and best practices for sales. Many of the obstacles start with a mindset - seeing sales as something sneaky and uncomfortable. It’s important to have best practices in place to navigate the initial consultation toward selling results and handling objections with ease, while staying in control of the conversations and not feeling icky about the entire experience.

Communicating with Prospects: Consultation Best Practices

Some gyms offer complimentary consultations to all members, while others are only offered for clients specifically requesting more information about working with a personal trainer. Either way, the goal of each consultation is to move the conversation toward how and why the prospect should work with you for personal training. Below are some best practices to establish rapport, communicate the value (not just the price) of personal training and get the potential client to open up about his or her fitness journey so you can use that information to inform a future training program.

  • Think service, not sales – Selling is pushing a product or service to meet sales objectives and department goals. The end-game is how much money can be made regardless of the relationship between seller and consumer. Servicing is a relationship-building process of providing as much information to the prospective client as possible to help him or her make the most informed decision. The main difference is in the obligation you have to present all of the options to reach his or her goal, based on the information he or she has shared. Withholding information is the opposite of service; you owe the prospect information about working with you. Simply reading the personal training package and pricing options can seem ‘salesy’; however, discussing the results you can help them with will lead to more organic conversation about what they want to achieve, how realistic their goals are and what has worked or hasn’t worked in the past.
  • Ask questions – Potential clients might ask for the training rates up front. Share the rates but let them know that you want to talk with them more to get a better idea of which package would be the best fit for their goals. They might end the consultation after they see the rate sheet, which is fine - don’t push it. If they wish to continue, start by asking direct, relevant questions, such as:
    • What are your top three fitness goals?
    • How long have you been working to achieve your goals?
    • What types of training interest you?
    • Can you give me a brief history of your previous personal training experience, if any?
    • Is there any particular event or competition you’re training for?

If the prospect scheduled the appointment to discuss personal training, it’s likely that he or she already has an agenda in mind that can take over the conversation. If this is a complimentary consultation, you want the transition to discussing personal training to be smooth. These questions work well in both situations to position yourself as the fitness expert and to keep the conversation on track. Showcase your expertise by responding with exercise suggestions that they can do in the interim. Even if you don’t close the sale at the end of the consultation, prospects will be more likely to think of you when they’re ready to purchase a training package.

  • Listen to the emotions behind their answers – Why does he want to lose 15lbs? Why is working on her core strength so important to her? Why is running a 5k on his bucket list? Maybe he wants to lose those 15lbs so he can participate in the family hike this summer. Maybe she wants to improve her core strength so she can lift her grandson into his car seat without hurting her back? The 5k is on the bucket list because this time last year he was battling cancer. The more you know about the potential client’s ‘why,’ the more information you have to help create the mental picture of them working with you to achieve the results they desire. If you have a feeling there is more to their answer, ask “Why?” two to three times until the truth comes out.

Common Objectives and How to Overcome Them

The sales process often begins at the first objection. This is where prospects start fishing for excuses as to why they can’t commit, even when they’re really interested in working with you. Acknowledging and discussing their objections can be nerve-wracking. However, it’s easier to work through those objections when the prospect is already picturing working with you. You might notice a shift in clients talking themselves out of their own objections once they see that you’re a good fit.

5 common objections

  1. “I don’t have time.” – Many people are waiting for the right time before starting a fitness program, failing to realize that there is never a right time. Have them think back to a time when they had loads of free time, and they will come up short. When you have them look back on missed training opportunities, you help them conclude that there is no right time, so they might as well start today with your guidance. Briefly discuss your schedule, their current gym routine and how you can fit them in for weekly sessions.
  2. “I have to ask my partner/spouse.” - Deal with this objection proactively by asking if the prospect has someone else who might be involved in the decision-making process. It’s better to have all parties on-board than it is to spend time with a prospect andmake the sale, only to have them call back for a refund when they get home to a partner or spouse who doesn’t approve of the purchase. If there is someone who is involved in the decision-making process, you might schedule another appointment with all three of you to discuss the options.
  3. “I need to think about it.” - Having to think about it isn’t necessarily an objection; it might mean that you need to reevaluate your approach to answering the other objections to ensure you are communicating the value of working with you. If you feel a connection without pressuring the prospect, don’t hesitate to ask what he or she needs to think about and answer those questions directly.
  4. “I had a bad experience with my last trainer.” - Do not bash another trainer. Use this objection as an opportunity to highlight your strengths as a qualified fitness professional.
  5. “I can’t afford it.” – Price objections might be the excuse for a bigger issue, so make sure that you’ve dealt with the other objections thoroughly. Is money really an issue or is the prospect just not willing to spend their money working with you?

4 common questions about personal training:

  1. How often do I need to see you to get results?
  2. How much weight can I expect to lose in the first month working with you?
  3. What other workouts will I need to do outside of our sessions to get results?
  4. Can we focus on X body part because I only want to lose weight and tone that area?

Answer these questions briefly to continue asserting yourself as the expert.

Ask for The Sale

You would be surprised by how many trainers end these appointments without actually asking for the sale. After being of service and providing information about how you can help them reach their goals, attempt to close the sale confidently by saying, “Unless you have any more questions or concerns, I think we are ready to get started. Which training package are you purchasing today?”

Closing

Building relationships, communicating the value of your training services and closing sales might not be your favorite parts of being a personal trainer, but they are integral to your success in this industry. Be confident in your ability to service your prospective clients by providing them with the most valuable information to help them decide to work with you. When you control the conversation, ask questions and come prepared to handle objections, the sales process can flow and feel less intimidating for you and the prospective client. Closing every sale isn’t part of the process, so don’t discredit the work you do before money exchanges hands. Sales is a process that when done correctly, can lead to long-term relationships with clients who are happy with their results and singing your praises to all of their friends.

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Trinity Perkins

About the author: Trinity Perkins

Trinity Perkins is an AFAA Certified Personal Fitness Trainer, ISSA Performance Nutrition Specialist and ISSA Specialist of Exercise Therapy. After working in a corporate gym part time for 1 year (while holding a full time job by day), Trinity began her own personal training and performance nutrition coaching business at a private studio in northern Virginia in 2012. The full-time owner of Fitness All Ways, LLC, formerly Train with Trin, LLC, her life’s mission is to motivate and inspire people to, “Live every day to the fittest.” Trinity incorporates principles of performance nutrition with strength training and aerobic exercises to create a training experience for each of her clients. Her client lists includes all levels of fitness from competitive athletes to people just beginning their fitness journey. Trinity holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Old Dominion University and a Master of Science in Health Education from Kaplan University.

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