Three Simple Questioning Techniques to Help you get More Sales

Dean Zweck | 25 Nov 2019

The human race has never been this unfit and sick. Personal trainers are in a prime position to have the biggest impact on an individual’s health. Yet many personal trainers are struggling to get clients, while the population grows more fat, more unhealthy and less fit.

The situation is bleak, but there is something that you can do to get more people buying your life saving service.

Why do People Buy?

There are three main areas of the brain as shown in the below picture:

These three areas don’t work in isolation. Instead, they work together through a complex network of neural pathways to decide our behaviours and actions. In basics terms though:

  • The Neocortex or the ‘thinking brain’ – controls our rational decisions
  • The Limbic or ‘emotional’ brain – remembers our feelings to previous events and unconsciously helps us decide our next action
  • The Reptilian or ‘survival’ brain – controls our basic functions to stay alive, such as homeostasis, heart rate and breathing

Now, it would be absolutely amazing if most people woke up tomorrow and said “do you know what I am getting older, I’m overweight, I can’t move well, I’m in a bit of pain and very unfit, I’ve not been making any progress whatsoever in the gym, I am going to get myself a Personal Trainer! It is definitely a good way to spend my money!”

That would be our good friend the Neocortex making a rational decision!

I’m not a betting man, but the chances of that happening are slim! So, unless we can get our pal the Limbic system to assist us, we won’t get many people signing up. And for that to happen we must tap into our prospective client’s emotions.

Finding our Prospects Emotions

To get a client emotionally involved, you HAVE to ask them questions that get them talking (and you NEED to LISTEN). The way that you phrase the question can help you illicit a lot of very emotive responses, especially the TED starting words:

  • Tell
  • Explain
  • Describe

These are all examples of probing questions and by asking them you get a much more detailed response to your questions. Great examples of TED questions that you could use are:

  1. Tell me what you would like to achieve in the next 30 days?
  2. Describe how your perfect body would look?
  3. Tell me how you would feel if you achieved your goal?
  4. Explain what you have been doing currently to achieve this?
  5. Describe to me what exercises you like and dislike
  6. Tell me about your results so far.
  7. Describe to me what you eat each day.
  8. Tell me how you’d feel if you went on holiday and hadn’t lost any weight.
  9. Explain to me what’s stopped you from achieving your goal.
  10. Tell me what you have tried in the past to overcome these barriers.

Once asking TED questions becomes second nature, there are two ways in which you could utilise them in a consultation to maximise your chances of that person signing up with you. That method is the emotional rollercoaster.

The Successful Future

The first stage of the emotional rollecoaster is to get the client to imagine how success feels in the future.

“Tell me how you will feel when you {insert client’s goal here}”

Try to be as descriptive as you can with the future situation. For example:

“Tell me how you would feel when you walk down the aisle, having lost the two dress sizes, and you are in your perfect dress”

Now you can imagine the words the individual would use here: sexy, fantastic, beautiful, fabulous, fit, amzaing, confident, etc.

Now compare that to a typical response to the question “why do you want to lose weight?”

The answer to this question is probably “I’m getting married and want to feel more confident in my dress”

Can you see the difference in emotion already?

The Future Failure

As with all rollercoasters, what goes up must come down. And for every positive emotion surrounding success, there is an opposite emotion attached to failure. A great question to ask here would be:

“Describe how you would feel if you didn’t {insert client’s goal here}”

Let’s follow the same example from above; “Describe to me how you would feel if you got to your wedding day, you are walking down the aisle and you haven’t lost the weight you wanted?”

These type of questions are very uncomfortable to ask, they are even harder for the client to answer. But you need to ask it. Once you do, remain silent, and let the member think and then respond. Once you let them contemplate the question and give their heartfelt response, you will hear words like gutted, depressed, upset, angry, devastated, ugly, annoyed.

Now you have an emotional high and low! You know how the client would feel if successful, and also, more importantly perhaps, how they would feel if they failed.

Emotions drive behaviours.

The last step is to summarise these answers in a way that leads the client to signing up with you.

Closing the Deal

“Thank you for your honesty in your answers, I really want you to feel sexy, fabulous and beautiful walking down the aisle on your wedding day. I would hate it if you didn’t lose the weight and felt devastated, ugly and depressed. Let’s look at a plan as to how we can get you to your target.”

Or words to that effect, in your own style. The key thing here is to use their exact words back to them. Don’t paraphrase! These are the words they use to explain their own emotions. These are the words that they are emotionally attached too. These are the words that get their limbic system firing up and will help quiet down that rational thinking Neocortex brain.

More importantly, it shows you were listening! That will build up the trust and rapport, which you also need to make the sale!

Finally, you have to ensure that your plan has value; however, even the best valued programme in the world will struggle to sell without the emotions of the buyer! Do all of this and you will have a full diary and many happy clients!


Unfortunately, buying the services of a Personal Trainer is not a rational decision for most. If it was, not a single PT would be struggling for clients. Utilising the TED questions to illicit an emotional response from our prospects will help the sections of the brain responsible for behaviours and actions to take over and give us a better chance of signing up that person. Using their emotive responses back to them to show that we care and that we were listening will go a long way.

Emotions drive behaviours.

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Dean Zweck

About the author: Dean Zweck

Dean Zweck, BSc, CPT, has been in the industry for 17 years with 13 as a personal trainer. For the last 7 years, he has been the lead educator for PTs in the UKs largest commercial gym chain, as well as successfully owning his own PT business. Dean's passion is helping trainers acquire all the tools so they can get clients, train clients and keep clients. The three core skills all successful PTs need to have.

In his spare time, Dean is a bit of an adrenaline junkie competing in OCRs with Europe's Toughest Mudder on the agenda for this year, plus engaging in mountain biking and rock climbing.

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Comments (1)

Hodgkin, Dean | 08 Jan 2020, 20:02 PM

Another super article Deano! Any heads-up PT could genuinely read this and then go straight out there and deploy the tips with prospects, generating extra business.