PT Mistakes I've Made: Hating Sales And The Sales Process
This is something that I have heard many PT's and coaches say.
"I hate sales"
I was the same.
I thought I hated sales too.
But what I actually hated was being "SALESY"
1. Making every single thing about making sales. Doing whatever it takes to get money off people
2. Being a complete douche
Making sales is how you pay the bills or how you hit target to then pay the bills. And you can learn to enjoy this process by simply doing a brilliant job.
You don't have to behave like a con artist in order to make sales.
The problem with many new Personal Trainers is that they feel like frauds so every single sales consult or conversation with a potential client can be wrought with feelings of doubt and like the Personal Trainer in question isn't worth the prices that they are charging.
First of all, it's okay to feel like this when first starting out. It's feelings like this that will drive you to keep improving throughout your career.
My advice to people in this situation is to focus on general population as your client base to begin with that don't have any very specific performance requirements (like elite athletes) and don't have injuries or pain that needs addressing by a medical professional until you've referred them on and got the all clear to train them.
Make sure you have the go-ahead to train your clients and don't train people with injuries until you are ready for that path!
Essentially, the general population are going to know nothing about fitness. You might get the odd person who has done a lot of research but it's going to be rare (although you should always be doing your research just in case.)
Like many a school teacher I've spoken to, at first it's largely about being 1-10 pages ahead in the text book (albeit an imaginary one in this discussion) than your clientele until you've spent enough time experiencing and gathering knowledge from all around you until you can apply it to your craft.
You need to know more and feel like you know more than your clients in order to make the sales process more fun, more pleasant and more successful for everyone.
How can you do that?
First, let's take the journey to create a good consultation.
Present your price list to your client before any consultation is even in the diary.
I've written about this quite extensively so I apologize if you are well versed in my opinions on this matter.
You should have a ready made price list for whenever a lead comes in.
When the lead has seen this price list you should ask whether your prices are within their budget and only when they have said "yes this is in my budget" to that question should you sit down for a consultation or book one in.
This can seem somewhat fat and abrupt at first but it get's the somewhat awkward topic of money off the table from the beginning.
When I started as a Personal Trainer I would present my prices at the end of a consultation resulting in dozens of hours of wasted time.
All the way through the consult the client is thinking:
"This is all well and good but how much is it going to cost"
Affecting how they communicate.
All the way through the consult you are thinking:
"I hope they can afford this"
"I hope they can't tell I'm thinking about whether they can afford it or not"
Affecting how you communicate all the way through the consult and potentially wasting hundreds of hours of both your's and your client's time.
PRESENT YOUR PRICES BEFOREHAND AND MAKE EVERYTHING EASIER FOR BOTH YOURSELF AND YOUR POTENTIAL CLIENTS.
NOTHING WILL HELP YOU CLOSE SALES MORE THAN THIS.
Well, maybe a couple of things but this was one of the most successful tweaks I ever made to my sales process.
When your client arrives in the building BE THERE before them. It can be impossible if you are fully booked or you have to have them booked in for after a class or something.
In that situation if you are in a commercial gym I would just ask the receptionist or another Personal Trainer or staff member in the facility to welcome them and to either sit them down in a nice area or to show them around the facility.
This will get them relaxed and settled until you arrive, bang on time and introduce yourself warmly which we'll cover how to do in a little while.
What if you're not in a commercial setting having a welcome pack or some kind of sign that explains you are just finishing a session with someone can be a great introduction showing that you care about the experience the person is having instantly winning you about a million points.
This kind of thing isn't "salesy" if done correctly, it's guaranteeing someone has a great experience whether they buy from you afterwards or not.
If you aren't busy beforehand arrive 15 minutes before they are due in and have everything ready for them.
This will put them at ease immediately which yes, puts them in a position where they are more likely to buy but more importantly makes them feel better, makes them feel less nervous and gives them more confidence in you as a person because you are starting from the best place possible.
I've heard experts say you have as little as 3 seconds to make a good impression on someone.
If you mess that 3 seconds up as I no doubt often do all isn't lost but you'll have to work for a long time to make sure you are held in a high regard in someone's eyes.
Humans are designed to spot people who are either friend or foe as fast as possible. Don't hate this fact, embrace it as it's probably the reason you are alive at all!
When someone comes into your facility for their consultation I would suggest not having a desk between you and them.
I would suggest open body language and here is the kicker: actually look pleased to see them!
Be pleased! Be interested! You might get a piece of information from this person that changes your career forever.
Treat everyone like they have something to teach you. As if time with them is a privilege and never a chore.
Smile when you see them. Speak in a voice that isn't shouting but is loud enough to sound confident. The handshake should be firm but shouldn't risk breaking their hand off.
I like to ask people if they are nervous at first. Their answer normally tells me a lot about them personally and helps me steer the conversation. As you get better at recognizing these signs from both words and body language you'll notice the consultation process usually gets more and more enjoyable so be on the look out.
You already have questionnaires, papers and any other devices ready.
Have questions relating to peoples health, injury history, personality types and whatever other information you want to get in front of you so you can work through the questions in an order which is more or less logical.
Don't worry too much if you realize you need to add some questions afterwards, you can build your own consultation forms as you go, especially if you are self-employed.
In our members area, we will have a full section devoted to setting up your consultation forms so you can build your own from our templates. We'll let you know as soon as that is open for business!
Have areas where you can make notes just in case your consultation goes down a digression.
These personal digressions can be absolute gold for getting emotional and physiological data about clients that can aid the coaching process.
Note everything down you think is important.
I like to have whatever I am writing either on display or on the table between us so even if they aren't reading what I'm writing they know i probably don't have anything to hide or think that I'm writing about what a nutter I think they are.
Being open and presenting your consultation material like this increases rapport and most importantly helps put your potential client at ease.
The chances are they are quite nervous in front of someone they perceive as an expert.
Help them relax and they will start to see that they have a chance of actually enjoying the "getting fit" process with someone who doesn't make them feel awful like in high school PE.
I try not to judge anyone for their answers and won't present solutions straight away. I can do that once I've digested all the information from the consultation. Don't let your biases or philosophies present themselves here.
No political talk.
No being a tool.
No big digressions about yourself unless you are presenting a difficult situation you've been through which helps a client relate to you and the issue they are having.
The person has come in to change their life. They really don't care how many national powerlifting championships you have won.
Coaches are usually the type that don't need much of an excuse to talk about themselves. I know this from being inside my own head every hour of the day.
You have to hold this instinct back! Let them do most of the talking and practice being a great listener.
Once the questionnaire has been completed ask the person if they have any questions and then ask them which option or service they would like to begin and set up payment then or organise when you will send them an invoice.
Once payment has been addressed you can move onto any movement assessments you do and proceed onto booking them in for various sessions and planning their journey.
What If You Don't Make The Sale?
You can't make every sale.
Things happen and things come up from the moment you ask if someone can afford your services to the moment you sit down for a consultation with someone.
You'll also say the wrong thing and mess up the odd consultation.
It might not happen very often but it will happen eventually.
Use these opportunities and use the next one to not make the same mistake again.
Adapt your approach to fit people not the other way round.
Just because they don't buy this time doesn't mean they won't buy in future or wont tell anyone that you are a great trainer so never finish these kinds of consults on a downer or with frustration that you didn't make the sale.
I like to finish consultations like this by saying if they need anything or have any questions they know where they can find me, thank them for taking time out of their day to sit down and chat to me and hopefully we end the consult in a respectful and professional manner that enhances my reputation.
Future Consultations and Self-Analysis
Every single consultation you do is an opportunity to try new questions, new assessments and to apply the research you should be constantly doing.
My consultation process has never really remained static. Even at Primal when we were employed the consultation process was constantly evolving as should yours.
If the questions don't flow as you would like them to you can change around the order of the actual questions using something like google forms.
Most of my questionnaires are done through Google forms but I'd encourage you to explore as many options as you can with this to come up with a process you are happy with that is easy and safe to hold the information without the risk of losing any.
If you struggle to talk to people and make conversation with people, don't worry, this comes with time.
If you have a list of questions you always have that to fall back on and you can always just ask people to go into more detail about a particular answer.
Note down any words you feel you say too much and practice not using them in every single sentence.
When I'm nervous or struggling I'll use the word "so" far more than I actually should much to the hilarity of all who know me.
Avoid using "erm" wherever possible as it makes you seem unsure. It takes a lot of practice to get this right and you'll certainly make mistakes but that's fine. If you sat "erm" twice rather than 48 you are probably communicating very effectively.
By taking all of the above into consideration and preparing properly you are ensuring your consultation and potential client has a great experience in the gym with you.
You should actually care about them and are interested in what they have to say. You should see it as a privilege to find this information out about them.
Have empathy and treat everyone like a human and not a machine.
And most importantly you should really want to help the person sat in front of you get towards their goal.
If you can help them you will tell them. If you need to refer them to someone more medically qualified this doesn't phase you because you know it will mean more clients later down the line because you are a coach with integrity and don't try and train people through issues you aren't qualified to deal with.
When you apply the above information you can start to enjoy sales because you know a successful sale is a pure representation of the fact that you are doing a good job.
By Chris K
Chris is a Personal Trainer, Strength Coach, Writer and man of small stature and reader of The Discworld Series with a decade in the industry. He trains everyone from beginners to high level athletes. His favourite clients are people getting into the gym for the first time because they can make the biggest changes in their life
You can reach me through the email address Chris@kershawstrength.com
My Instagram is Chris_Kershaw_Strength.
Thank you for reading!