Why a Member Saying “No” is Great for Your PT Business

Dean Zweck | 17 Apr 2018

“Would you like to start training with me?”


It’s something we hear time and time again as a personal trainer. Hearing “no” time and time again can lead to a fear of rejection, which can be fatal for your business. You lose motivation, you no longer approach anyone and before you know it, you have had to leave the industry you are so passionate about because you cannot afford to live.

So, what can you do about those two letters? In this blog, I will hopefully get you to consider a new mindset and get you to embrace the word ‘No’ and see it as an opportunity.

Time to Reframe

Have you ever gone in to a shop to look at a product, the shop assistant took time to show you how it works and answer any questions you have, but you still decide not to purchase? Of course you have, we all have done it. And in all shops, sole traders and multi-nationals all over the world it happens multiple times a day.

Did the shop assistant get emotional about the fact you didn’t buy? Or do they see it as part and parcel of the sales process?

They understand that some peope will buy, some people won’t and some people will buy at a later date, they just aren’t ready to commit to buying right now.

Selling your service as a personal trainer is no differnet. As hard as it may appear, we need to take the emotion out of rejection. And don’t get me wrong, this isn’t easy (I say thinking back to my single days at uni), but with practice and being mindful that a no is a valid response to be expected, it will get easier.

But let’s crunch some numbers for a second. Let’s say out of every 5 leads you get, one person becomes a client.

You have already anticipated 4 No’s to get 1 Yes. That means you need to receive 4 rejections before a sale.

Let’s play this through, you chat to a person take them through your sales process, but they say no.

How many No’s are you now away from a Yes? If you said 3, you are correct.

The next person you meet also says no. Now you are only 2 No’s away from a sale.

Same happens with the next 2 people and now, probability wise, the next person will sign up.

As you can see, each time you get a No, you are closer to making a sale. Embrace rejection. Increase the number of leads you have and you will start to grow your client base.

I wrote some tips for increasing leads in commercial gyms in this blog here.

What Else Do No’s Tell Us?

A no from a member is also a sign that something we are doing may be broke, i.e. it gives us an opportunity to improve.

Let’s look at the number of times we could experience a No from a member:

  • “No, I’m ok, thanks. I don’t need any help with my technique”
  • “No, I’m ok training on my own currently”
  • “Thanks for the offer, but I’m too busy to sit down with you to discuss my training”
  • “Now isn’t a good time to chat, I’m at work. Can you call me another time?”
  • “I can see the benefit of PT, but it’s too expensive”
  • “I’m not fit enough to start training with you at the moment”
  • “Thanks for your help over the last few weeks, but I am not going to renew my sessions”

As a very simple example, PT client acquisition and then retention looks like this:

Interaction -> Help -> Lead -> Consultation -> Client -> Renewal

At every point along that journey, a member could say no. No to help, to future appointments, to training with you or to continue to train with you.

Continually getting No’s at a certain point on the journey means you have the opportunity to refine your technique and to develop your systems.

The below table gives you some pointers to consider if you are regularly getting rejected at a certain point:

Members say "no" when: Potential Reason: How to improve:
I offer help The member doesn’t know, like or trust you Spend time getting to know the member,,developing rapport by becoming interested in them
I invite them to a consultation Member doesn’t see the need or isn’t ready to,make that step yet Follow up with the members. A No isn’t a,permanent No, it’s a No right now. Keep building rapport and trying to help,the member and when the time is right, they will come to you
I try to close the sale Member isn’t excited enough about their goal,or doesn’t see the value for money in what you offer Use some motivational interviewing techniques,to create excitement and ensure that you are offering a world class service
It comes time to renewing sessions Member isn’t seeing value for money Keep consistent high standards and deliver,what you promised to do, get results and get the basics right, such as,professional etiquette (punctuality, attentiveness, regular assessments,,record keeping)

In Summary

A no can be hard to hear, but it is part and parcel of gaining clients. Try to remove the emotion from rejection and see every no as one step closer to finding a Yes. Regularly getting knows when trying to generate leads, convert leads or retain clients is a sign of a broken system. This is an opportunity to develop and grow as a trainer to fix this broken system.

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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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