We’re living in tough times. With inflation spiraling out of control, people are being forced to make cutbacks on their spending. The pandemic has also presented people with more options for working out at home rather than paying for a gym membership. These factors present a challenge to gyms that threatens to impact their bottom line. Unless you’ve got a sales force that is operating on all cylinders, you’re going to feel the pain. In this article, I’ll present 5 proven strategies to improve gym sales that you can use as part of your sales training to ensure that your sales force is on top of their game.

Before we get into the specifics, here’s an overview of the strategies we’ll be covering …

  • Present to Everyone
  • Implement Role Plays
  • Use a Pre-Printed Price Sheet
  • Ask for Referrals
  • Improve Your Prospecting Skills

Present to Everyone

In a game of basketball, you are going to miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. Similarly, in the gym sales business, you can’t sign up people that you don’t make an offer to. So, set the expectation among your sales staff that they will make a sales presentation to every single person who walks through the door. That doesn’t mean, though, that they should jump on top of every person and give them a hard sell. 

As a salesperson, you should treat everyone you talk to as a buyer. You don’t know what is going on inside their head, so you don’t know that they’re not going to buy from you. More often than not when you treat a person like a VIP and expect them to be interested, they will start to respond. However, if you pre-judge them, you don’t have a hope of getting the sale. 

Your staff needs to be trained in the ability to present the information that people need to make a buying decision in a free, open, and conversational manner that is disarming and non-threatening. For example, after giving a person who has walked through the door of the gym a personal tour and answering their questions, the salesperson could simply say …

So Joe, if I’ve given you enough information to make a decision, we’ve got a great membership deal running right now. Let me run through it for you.

It is amazing how often I’ve seen a salesperson take a prospective member through the gym, give them a spiel but not actually ask for the sale. Inevitably the person awkwardly ends up saying, ‘Ok thanks’, or ‘I’ll get back to you,” and then walk out of the gym, never to be seen again. 

When you give your sales presentation to the customer, don’t do it while you’re walking around the gym. Make sure that you’re both sitting down. That way they get the subtle message that now you’re doing business with them rather than having a casual conversation. 

In addition to making a presentation to everyone possible and asking for a sale, you need to have some way to collect contact information from people who come into the gym. Most people will not sign up for a membership on the first visit. So, you need to be able to follow up with them. That requires a contact. One easy way to collect this information is to have a competition running where people can win a free membership. The entry form will collect their phone number and email address. 

Have a follow-up system in place where all leads will be phoned 3 days after their walk-in visit. Make sure that the staff member who makes these calls is trained in how to do so. Once again, the vibe should be friendly and disarming. Here is a suggestion of what your salesperson could say…

Hi Jenna, this is Dave from Ultimate Bodies Gym. I’m following up to see if you had all of your questions answered when you came through and to see if there’s anything else you need to make a decision about joining us.

Implement Role Plays

Role-playing isn’t just for kids. It is, in fact, an integral, but often neglected sales training tool. Role-playing the presentation with people who walk in off the street, the telephone follow up and the various ways to ask for the sale without appearing pushy allows staff members to practice on each other rather than practicing on the customer. By the time they get to do it live in front of a real prospect, they should be so practiced that the message is smooth and effortless. This allows them to be themselves, putting both them and the customer at ease.

When role-playing, have the person who is playing the customer react in different ways, with different situations and personalities. This will help your salesperson to be better prepared for every scenario. And the more ready your sales team is to smoothly handle any situation they may encounter, the more likely they are to close sales. 

One goal of role-playing is to allow your sales team to experience what they are selling from the customer’s point of view. This then puts them in a position to evaluate the situation and adapt their approach. 

You should integrate role-playing as a regular feature of your sales training sessions. Here are four suggestions on how you can incorporate role plays into those meetings …

  • Use a Script – even though the goal is for the sales staff to speak extemporaneously and be as natural as possible, they should have a starting script that presents the bare bones of the intended message. 
  • Focus on a specific situation – each session should zoom in on one thing and stay there. It could be the follow-up phone call to a walk-in enquirer. Get buy-in from the team before the session, with suggestions of what does and doesn’t work, and don’t make the mistake of thinking that your approach is the only right way.
  • Reflect and Question – as the person running the sales training session, you should be pausing the role plays periodically and asking questions. For example, you could ask ‘why do you think Joe didn’t say …?’ or ‘what would probably have happened if he’d said …?’
  • Keep it Casual and Fun – as well as being a great learning tool, roles plays are also an opportunity to have a lot of fun. So, don’t make it too serious. So long as the point of the session is made clear, you can have a few laughs along the way. 

Use a Pre-Printed Price Sheet

Have a pre-printed price sheet ready to refer to when you sit down with the customer to do your sales presentation. You should make use of this price sheet to offer the customer a choice close. Highlight two different options that will help them to achieve their goals. Then close with something like this …

Debra, if you feel like I’ve given you enough information to make a decision, there are two ways you can handle it. Here’s the first way [go through the first buying option] and here’s the second way [go through the second buying option].

Pick the one you like best and we’ll go ahead and get started today.

When you give people a buying choice, you are more likely to get the sale than simply presenting them with the option of whether to buy or not. So make use of that fact by always presenting a choice close that is similar to the one just presented.

When you are running through the pre-printed price sheet with the customer, you should have a big red Sharpie pen alongside you. The figures printed on the sheet should be standard non-special joining fees. That allows you to make a big deal out of taking your red pen and slashing those figures out and replacing them with the special rate that you’re currently offering. This can be very psychologically impacting for a prospective buyer. 

Ask for Referrals

A good salesperson is always looking ahead. One great way to do that is to ask for referrals when you are signing people up. This should be a standard practice, yet many gym sales staff are not doing it. They may feel uncomfortable asking for referrals. They either need to get over that feeling or get out of sales.

New prospects are the oxygen of your business. Unless you can get people to talk to, your sales will be zero. Referrals from sign-ups will provide you with a constant flow of new people to present to.

Asking for a referral is an area that you should definitely focus on in your sales training meetings. Once your staff learns how to naturally ask for the referral, their fear of doing so will evaporate. Here is a sample of what you could say to a new member just after signing them up …

Janelle, this program you just joined up to, not a lot of people know about it. We’re not marketing it widely and even if it was, not everybody would see it. So what you can do right now if you want is that you can actually reserve the special rate that you’ve got in on for a close friend or family member. That way they’ll have two weeks to take advantage of it. It’s going to expire in 3 days but we’ll give them two weeks to get in and take advantage of it if they choose. There’s no obligation but it’s a rate reservation for them.

You then simply ask them for the contact details of close friends or family members that they think might like to take advantage of the offer. 

If you’ve been signing up people and not getting referrals, I strongly recommend that you call them up and ask for the referral over the phone. Here’s what you could say …

Tom, when you signed up, did we explain our guest policy and our referral program works? 

Then go ahead and explain the guest policy. From there, seamlessly move into the referral program, using the same script as if you were talking to them face to face after the sign-up.

Improve Your Prospecting Skills

You might be a great salesperson but, as previously mentioned, if you’re not bringing in a regular flow of prospects, you will have no one to sell to. Set quotas for your sales team such as bringing in 10 new leads per day. Asking for the referral is one way to generate names but you will need more than that. 

When you’re prospecting, you’re not out looking for people who are ready to buy. It will be up to you to create the interest and desire of the potential customer. 

Here are 5 ways to generate prospects ….

  • Make good use of your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database, using it to produce contact details for members who have fallen by the wayside. Each week assign these contacts to a sales member and train them how to contact these people with a view to rekindling interest in the gym.
  • Go into the local mall and conduct a survey. It could be about eating habits, diets, or exercise. Keep it to fewer than 10 questions and offer a couple of free personal training sessions to be drawn from the entries. 
  • Get active on social media; use Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to share the fitness message. Be as generous as you can in helping others and you will be rewarded with a steady flow of new prospects.
  • Present mini-seminars at businesses. A 15-minute lunchtime lecture at a factory staff room during lunch time in which you talk about the benefits of resistance training and proper nutrition can produce a page or more of new prospects. 

Summary

There is no magic formula to improving your gym sales. The five strategies presented here are nothing new. They are generated from real experience in real gyms and, as such, are proven winners. Here’s a review of what we’ve covered …

  • Present to Everyone
  • Implement Role Plays
  • Use a Pre-Printed Price Sheet
  • Ask for Referrals
  • Improve Your Prospecting Skills

Feel free to use the suggestions covered here as the basis for your sales training sessions over the next few weeks. As soon as your entire sales force gets on board with all five of them, the sooner your sales figures will begin to uptake.

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