Sunday, December 23, 2012

Trouble with Selling Training Sessions

Here's a blunt statement from me regarding selling personal training:

I learned everything in sales and marketing from working in a commercial gym. Period.

I had quotas and I received bonuses if I hit specific monthly numbers. Each week, I had "sales" training and learned "sales tactics" through my boss. I used those tactics on prospective clients in the gym and I learned what worked and what didn't work. I learned what were certain "triggers" or "hot buttons" to use during my sales pitch and how to correlate "needs" and my services. It is a very intricate, complex procedure to sell something that a consumer cannot see. You have to manipulate their emotions, beliefs, and persuasion. 

Here's another blunt statement regarding selling personal training:

Luckily, I am also a good trainer. I became an even better trainer the more people I trained. 

How did I do that? I "sold" sessions to many people, and I delivered on their promises. I documented my entire first few years in the industry HERE. Some fitness professionals lack a balance. They can sell, but they cannot deliver results. They can spew out cool fitness phrases and cliches like: "functional training", "core stability", and "muscle imbalances"; but do not know how to piece together everything into a sound program. Some know how to get people to hard...and create a team-environment; but not many know how to engage a client consistently and change their behavior. That takes alot of time and effort (on the trainer's part). Instead, they mastered selling the art of selling a dream, and never really getting the client close to it. Anyone can get someone to sweat. Remember that. Sweat is not an indicator that you are coaching anything remotely effective. Jumping jacks make people sweat. Enough said.

Here are some common trends I have found in personal trainers that have trouble with selling sessions:

 1.) they are new--under 2 years experience
 2.) have never worked in a commercial gym environment
 3.) have worked in commercial gyms, but didn't like it Here is my take on all 3 of those categories:

1.) If you are new with under 2 years of training experience, you will have a difficult time selling. You will sell to some, but not most. If you are new to training, you are not going to be very good. Face is the truth. You have not been "tested" enough. You have been coloring with a small box of crayons. Big boys with callouses and training stories color with the big box of crayons--you know the one with the crayon sharpener built in.
Forget making it rich. Work your ass off and learn the game. Train your ass off. Thats how you get good. I have found that the best trainers are the ones that have a history of exercise from an earlier age. Trainers with less experience sell their sessions based on what they read; what trending, and what the other trainers are saying. With a few years under your belt, confidence will grow and selling will be easier. You will know "what you are selling" and be able to close better. Most of today's younger breed of trainers are able to sell to the less knowledgeable consumer. The client looking for a change in his/her exercise program will want proof that your tactics work. Therefore, he will be a harder sell.

 2.) You may lack confidence in what you know. Independent training is nice, but when you work for yourself, you lack a bit of that challenge. Being employed by a commercial gym, you are part of a team of fitness trainers. Hopefully, there will some daily debate and diversity in training methods. This is good because it will stir the learning process. If you enter the field and quickly establish your own facility, you tend to be a prisoner of your own beliefs. You believe your way is the best way, because the no one is around to challenge your ideals.

 3.) If you worked in a commercial gym and didn't like it, chances are you didn't like selling. You thought selling was not what you wanted to do because it didn't flow with what you were doing. You figure training and helping people should not seem "devious" (as sales usually seem). This is where you are wrong. The number of clients you work with in a given week (not all time), tells me how good you are. Chances are you didn't like being under-paid at gym, but maybe, just maybe, your pay rate was actually accurate! Figure this...if a trainer is only good at sales and not training--his clients will stay with him for long. If they don't see results, they will not stay and he will only bring in the "muffin" top of sales for the month. (Thats what I used to call it to my staff trainers). But if a trainer is good at his craft and sales, his clients stay with him and has a waiting list. This trainer has the muffin top AND the bottom. Therefore, this trainer is paid the highest tier. Don't be afraid of the pressure. Be challenged and pushed. One you have mastered both ends...go out on your own and show 'em!


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