Written by Bryan Pritz
The times are a changing and cutthroat sales techniques no longer work. Over the past 5 years, a shift in the consumer market has drastically changed the way businesses need to sell to consumers. Previously, hard core sales tactics worked. Forceful selling generated results.
The famous scene from the movie Glenngary Glen Ross was an excellent depiction of hardcore sales tactics at work.
This paved the way for how companies were selling, and it worked. For awhile.
However, over the past 5 years a drastic change to the market has occurred in which a new form of sales was crafted out of the disdain for these hardcore tactics. It’s called relationship selling and nowadays it’s much more effective than anything else and unless you adopt it, you’ll be churning clients and killing your reputation.
Hard core sales tactics = churning.
Relationship selling = growing.
What is relationship selling?
Relationship selling is exactly what it sounds like. Building a relationship and creating loyalty so the potential member trusts you. If they trust you, they are more likely to join. It’s considered a “sales tactic” but if you are doing it right, it shouldn’t be a sales tactic to you. It should be your way of treating people in general. Don’t fake it. Don’t base it on the sale alone. It should be that you genuinely care and want to provide a service that fits the consumer and their needs. Unfortunately, that’s not always a characteristic you can teach. This is why hiring the right coaching staff is so important.
If you handle the sales in your gym, ask yourself: Am I pushing people into something that I want, rather than what they want? If you are, chances are it will come back to bite you down the road. Just read the scores of negative yelp reviews that force gyms out of business because they are forcing people into contracts and memberships that they don’t want. This does not mean you avoid leading them down the path of joining, but more using the next seven tips to allow the consumer to come to their own conclusion that they need your service and it’s the right choice for them. If you do that correctly, you never have to “sell” again.
How to apply relationship selling into your gym:
- First, give consumers the right to try your gym without jumping through hoops. Side note: Don’t make it too difficult to cancel. If they don’t want to be there, yeah, making it difficult to cancel might keep them around an extra month or two, but the negative consequences far outweigh the extra revenue. Remember, we are trying to create positive experiences at every point of their membership, even when they are cancelling. This is how we grow our gym, not by milking every revenue dollar we can. For your trials, don’t require them to follow extra steps like printing a pass, calling the gym or anything else that requires more than a single step. Let them sign-up for an actual class and follow that up with a confirmation email that introduces yourself or your new member liaison. Give them a forum to ask a question before they come in.
- Make sure you have a system in place for when trials show up, so that the first impression is rock solid. In Nicole Zapoli’s podcast episode she discusses how she trained their coaches to greet, bring in and introduce a new trial immediately. We have something similar in place. We also have a set system in place where the coach builds rapport and breaks down the intimidation barrier.
- During class, treat trials as if they are a full paying client. Let me repeat that. If they are trying a class, they are a full blown member for that day. Far too many times we see gyms have the mindset of: “this is a trial getting a free class and don’t deserve my time because I don’t know if they will be a member.” This is the reason why they ultimately don’t become a member. If you have the mindset that this trial is going to sign-up and be a full time member, it’s more likely they will join.
- Understand their goals. As part of the trial registration, the waiver signing or casual conversation before class getting ready for the trial class, make sure you or the coach finds out about their goals and what they are trying to accomplish. Take that information and utilize it during the class. For example, so someone comes in and they are training for an endurance race such as a marathon or a Spartan Race. As you are walking around, helping them with movements and selecting weight, you can talk to them about why the specific movement will help them with muscle endurance, or explain why Strength Training Improves Running Economy. This shows that you are paying attention to them, molding the workout to their goals and what they are looking for and increases the likelihood they join. Always make it about them, not you.
- After the workout is complete, make sure you congratulate them on a job well done and a simple question of “how did it go?” is all you need. Likely at this point they’ll take that question and give you an answer that leads to you “showing the options” available. With this method, you are not pushing them towards signing up, but offering a solution to their interest. Let them lead into it. Do not push them towards signing up. If they show no interest and do not seem interested in learning about your membership options, do not push it. Let them know that you will follow up with them and send them on their way. The moment you push something they are not ready for, not only do you lose them but you leave a bad taste. I’ve read hundreds of reviews on local gyms on Yelp and one of the common reasons people leave bad reviews is because of how “pushy” the gym is trying to get them to sign-up. Not that you should do anything based off of fear from a poor Yelp review, but if you consistently see something pop up on a review site chances are it’s a major concern for most people.
- Should they not join right away, your follow up email needs to continue to build the relationship and not try to pressure them. The follow up email should include information showing that you listened and understand their needs. You are providing a solution to their problems that they’ve disclosed to you during the trial class. Take the example above for someone interested in endurance races. A follow up email would look something like this (I handle all communication from the trial and not the coach, so if you are both coach and follow up person, adjust accordingly):“Hi John,How’d the workout go yesterday with Coach Brenna?Brenna mentioned you did great with the workout and it was a pleasure to have you in class. She also mentioned that you were training for a Spartan Race. Very cool! I’ve done a Tough Mudder before and will probably do one of the Spartan Races down the road. Hopefully she explained how this type of training will really help with your race, but if not, attached is a good article on the subject.
If we can help or answer any questions about it let me know.
Anyway, if it’s something you are interested in or if you have any questions at all about the gym, membership options or anything else let me know.”
If anything, you’ve provided value for them that can help with their goals and they leave with a positive experience whether they join or not.
- If you have a follow up sequence (you should) that continues to email non-joins, make sure they are based on providing value and information and not selling. At the end of your sequence, add a single email inviting them to come on board with a trial offer, but only after you’ve offered enough value to warrant asking for their business.
Everything today is based on providing the consumer value and showing that you care. Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and craft your trial process to reflect how you would like to be treated. Care. Actually care and don’t just fake it, otherwise we can’t help you.