Closing the sale is at the heart of every business. You can impress, enamor and excite all the people in the world about your business but unless you get them to the point of handing over money, you haven’t got a business – or, at least, you won’t have one for long. In previous articles in this series, we’ve explored various ways to get more prospects through your gym doors. Today, we zoom in on what you, and your staff members, need to be doing to convert those customers to paying members.

Overview

Here’s a roadmap of where we’re going with this article. The 4 ways to close more gym sales that we are about to cover are …

  • Set high goals
  • Sell benefits on the gym tour
  • Don’t disagree with the prospect
  • Have a range of closing strategies

Set High Goals

One of the most common traits that I came across as a gym owner was the tendency to underachieve in terms of setting sales targets. This was systematic of a small thinking mindset that, inevitably, became self-fulfilling. Yet, it costs us nothing to think big and set goals that are commensurate with that thinking. 

When setting sales targets, aim high. Then write an action plan spelling out what it’s going to take to meet those goals. So long as you show your team how to get there, they will respond. On the other hand, if you set low expectations, your team may meet them but they’ll do so without the drive and enthusiasm that comes with reaching for the stars. 

Take a look at your current weekly sales targets. Now consider whether you can double them. It may seem scary and unrealistic but sit down and create an action plan as to how those sales targets can be achieved. This will require stepping back through the process to get more prospects coming through the door and increasing your efforts in each area. 

The bottom line here is that you are always going to be better off falling a little short of a high target than meeting a conservative one. 

Sell Benefits on the Tour

Most of the time, your salesperson will take prospective members on a tour of the gym before asking for the sale. The goal of the sales portion of the process is to get the prospect to agree that value exceeds the cost. The way that the salesperson conducts the gym tour is crucial to making that happen. 

I’m in the gym every day. Several times a week, I see salespeople taking newcomers on a tour of the gym as I’m working out. Inevitably they will point out the different pieces of equipment and areas of the complex such as the cardio room, group training area, free weights, and functional fitness areas. What they don’t do is explain the benefits that are associated with e4ach of those features. Yet, unless they do that the prospect is going to come off the tour thinking, ‘Ok, they’ve got a lot of shiny stuff here, but I’m not sure how that’s going to help me!’

If your salespeople are showing prospective members the what of your gym and neglecting to explain the why then they will struggle to close the sale. Unless you intervene, your sales figures are going to be disappointing. So, what can you do to make the change?

Make the tour a topic of your next weekly sales training session (you are having weekly sales training sessions, right?). Have your salespeople list down every feature of the gym they normally show newcomers. Then, for each one, challenge them to come up with 3-4 benefits for different types of people, such as bodybuilders, overweight middle-aged women, or athletes. 

Now, give your sales team the challenge to match every feature with at least one benefit specific to the prospect each time they conduct a tour over the next week. Have a debriefing at the following week’s training session. My bet is that their closes will have increased quite markedly.

A final point regarding the sales tour is that the salesperson should not ask for the sale on the tour itself. Once the tour is done, ask the prospect …

So, Jess, now that you’ve seen what we offer and what we can do to get you to your goals, do you have any questions?

Whether Jess ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, say something like …

Great, let’s sit down and I’ll show you how it works from here. 

Take them into your office and sit them in front of your desk. At this point, you are transitioning from the sale to the close. Your job of getting the prospect to believe that value exceeds cost is done. 

Don’t Disagree with the Prospect

When you’ve completed the tour and have the prospect in the office, you should go through the membership rates with them. Keep in mind that your sole job now is to ask the member to buy from you. If you don’t do that, you will have failed. If you go back to selling, you are heading in the wrong direction. 

Apart from not actually asking for the sale, the biggest mistake I see in the office once the tour is done is disagreeing with the prospect. Trying to sell from a standpoint of disagreement is always going to be a losing proposition. Unless you develop the ability to pivot from disagreement to agreement, you will lose out on sales that you should be winning.

So, how do you do it?

Let’s take a common example …

After running Jess through the membership rates, she says …

That seems like a lot of money.

You’ve now got a choice; you can either try to explain to her why it’s not a lot of money or agree with her and build from there. The first option is negative while the second is positive. Always go with the positive. You could say …

Yep, I agree, Jess – it seems like everything costs more these days. You’ve seen how what we offer can solve your problems, so, what do you say, shall we go ahead and get you started?

Another common hurdle that can get in the way of the close is when the prospect says …

I’d like to discuss it with my husband first.

Again, your response needs to be one of agreement. You could say …

Jess, I totally understand, Lots of members want to discuss it with their spouse before they get started. But, Jess, can you imagine that gigantic smile on his face when you let him know that you’ve made the commitment to lose weight and get off medication. So, what do you say? Shall we go ahead and get you started?

You’ll see that in both cases, we didn’t retreat back to sales mode. We stayed in close mode, acknowledged the objection, offered a fresh perspective on it, and then asked for the close again. 

Train your staff to be agreeable in every interaction with members, not only when closing sales. If the front desk gets a complaint, rather than trying to justify the situation, the staff member should say something like …

I’m sorry Dave, we should be giving you better service than that. I will make it my mission to fix this for you.

Have A Range of Closing Strategies

If you’ve only got one way to ask for the sale, what are you going to do when it doesn’t work? A good salesperson needs to be flexible so that they can reach into their toolbox and pull out a closing strategy that fits the situation. If it doesn’t work, he should then be able to make use of a backup strategy that better suits the needs of the customer. 

Closing and selling are not the same things. Selling is all about solving the prospect’s problems by providing solutions and creating value in your product or service in a way that is personal and meaningful for them. The goal of selling is to get the prospect to agree that the value exceeds the price. 

Closing is asking the prospect to buy from you. Yet, many salespeople actually leave closing out completely. They do a fantastic job of selling and then leave it up to the prospect to close the sale for them! Often this happens because the salesperson doesn’t want to ‘hard sell’. Yet, asking for the close can be as ‘soft’ as saying …

Ok, Jess, shall we move ahead on this?

Remember, if you don’t ask for the sale, the answer is always going to be no. 

Here are three proven closing strategies that all of your sales team should be well versed in…

The Now or Never Close

When you and the prospect sit down at your desk, have a printed membership rate sheet on the desk. Go through all of the options and then pull a red marker pen out of your desk drawer and put a large ‘X’ through the current monthly rate. Explain to the prospect that you’ve been authorized to offer them a special discount rate if they sign up today (just make sure that you actually have that authorization). 

The This or That Close

Presenting two competing membership options to the prospect allows you to position the close as a this or that option rather than a this or nothing one. An example of two membership offers could be a standard membership that provides access to the gym floor and locker rooms and a premium membership that includes free access to fitness classes, boot camps, and pools. Run through the details of each offer and then ask the prospect which one they think will meet their needs. When they make their selection, you can say…

Great, let’s make that happen. 

The Columbo Close

If you’re too young to remember the awesome detective show Columbo, you need to do a YouTube search. Doing so will not only provide you with some great entertainment, but it will also help you to close more sales. After questioning a suspect, Columbu would turn to leave. Then, just as the person thought they were off the hook, he’d turn and say, ‘Just one more thing …’ and then nail them with a clincher. 

You can use the same strategy by always having an extra, enticing offer up your sleeve. Only use it when your previous closing attempts have failed. An example could be to offer three complimentary personal training sessions on sign up.

Summary

Here’s a recap of our four key closing strategies …

  • Set high goals
  • Sell benefits of the tour
  • Don’t disagree with the prospect
  • Have a range of closing strategies

Asking for the sale takes a level of boldness. At the same time, however, you need to be courteous, respectful, friendly, and relaxed. Those traits don’t come automatically, at least not for most of us. They require practice. That is why regular sales training is so important for every gym sales team. 

If you are not holding weekly sales meetings, I recommend getting started this week. Why not use this article as the basis of that first meeting? Print out a copy for each team member and spend an hour or so going through each of our four closing strategies and how they can be implemented in your situation. Then challenge your team to make use of them to bring more members into your club and more profit into your bank account.

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