To survive in the fitness industry you need to have a top-class sales game. Competition has become so intense due to the growing popularity of fitness in recent years. And, it’s not just in the big cities that the market is thriving. Smaller towns and cities are experiencing an influx of different varieties of studios and clubs. In fact, a recent New York Times article described the current trend of fitness studios opening up in empty retail spaces in suburban shopping malls in America.
This increase in competition from the boutique fitness revolution means that health clubs need to up their game when it comes to attracting and retaining members. Health clubs are different from boutique studios in that they provide a greater number of amenities alongside a traditional gym offering. These amenities include things like a swimming pool, spa and massage areas, and a space for sports such as tennis and basketball. Health clubs are usually priced at the higher end of the scale, similar to boutique studios.
Therefore, a health club owner really needs to sell the value of what they are offering. In this article we will go through why the sales process is so important, the mistakes commonly made and a comprehensive health club sales checklist.
Skip ahead to:
- Why Health Club Sales Processes Matter
- The Most Common Mistakes in Membership Sales
- A Health Club Sales Strategy Checklist
Why Health Club Sales Processes Matter
All businesses, from your local dog grooming service to big international banks, are based on sales. No matter how helpful the product or service is, or how large the marketing budget is, the primary goal of any business is always to increase revenue.
See, sales are to your fitness business, like oxygen is to your body – without adequate supply, you’ll quickly suffocate and die. And we don’t want that now do we?
Sales equal revenue and revenue is what pays your bills. If you can’t generate sufficient revenue then you’ll never be able to build the stable conditions needed for long-term business growth.
When you’ve got your sales strategy dialed in, you’ll be able to identify customers, contact them, and close them on membership. Then you’ll be able to duplicate and scale the process to the moon, bringing an ample supply of cash into your business.
In general, there are a standard number of steps and actions to be taken within the sales process. Of course, each health club is unique and requires a bespoke sales strategy but successful approaches contain these key elements:
Prospecting and Lead Generation
This stage is all about research. It’s about identifying the potential customers who’d make an excellent fit for your health club. It’s good to ask the question ‘who is interested in our offering?’
At this stage, your health club might run a competition with an enticing prize. The idea is that you’ll generate a bunch of interest from potential customers and get your hands on their contact details so you can start building a relationship with them at the next stage.
Creating and Presenting Value
The next step in the sales process is about showing your collected leads how you can help them achieve their goals. Here you want to think about ‘how can we best build a relationship with our potential customers?’
Using the previous example, you might put the entrants email addresses into an automated nurturing sequence that’ll drip-feed them value-packed emails and help them to solve their problems.
Closing the Sale
The final step of the sale process is where the magic happens. Here we’re thinking about how can we persuade our prospects that our health club is worth spending their hard-earned cash on.
Taking our last example this stage might involve you inviting your warm leads to have a coffee and take a tour of your health club where you can discuss membership options and hopefully persuade them to sign on the dotted line.
Sealing the deal and having our new customers sign is the hardest part of the whole sales process because our prospects will likely have a number of objections to overcome.
It might take hours, days, weeks or months for your prospects to make the leap and join your health club, many probably won’t ever join at all. But with a proper strategy, you’ll be able to acquire new paying members with a reliable and replicable system. For more information, take a look at our comprehensive article on selling memberships.
The Most Common Mistakes in Membership Sales
Not Listening to Your Prospects
Think about the last time you got stuck with somebody who only wanted to talk about themselves. Chances are you felt like they didn’t have any interest in you. As the old adage goes; nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
That’s why listening to your prospects fears, needs, desires, and hopes is essential to closing more sales. In fact, sales research by Hubspot shows that customers ranked the top ways to create a positive sales experience as:
- Listening to their needs (69%)
- Not being pushy (61%)
- Providing relevant information (61%)
- Responding in a timely manner (51%)
Of course, listening doesn’t simply mean not talking. Good listening is an active process that involves asking good questions too. And when it comes to sales, there’s a clear relationship between the number of questions you ask and the chances of success.
In an impressive piece of research, Gong analyzed 500,000+ discovery calls and reported that asking between 11-14 questions over the course of the call resulted in a 74% success rate compared with asking only 1-6 which produced a 46% success rate.
As well as asking good questions, it’s helpful to bring you and your prospect closer by using collaborative phrases. Research shows that top salespeople are up to 10 times more likely to use phrases such as ‘we’, ‘us’,’ ‘our,’ and ‘together’ instead of ‘you’, ‘me’, ‘your’, and ‘I’.
In the words of sales consultant Roy Bartell: “Most people think “selling” is the same as “talking”. But the most effective salespeople know that listening is the most important part of their job.
Thinking Referrals Don’t Matter
We’re all social creatures. And because of that, we have a deep psychological bias that magnifies the influence of personal recommendations.
Just think about how many times you’ve had a friend or family member tell you that a restaurant, movie or vacation was great and how that swayed your decision to book a table or buy a ticket.
A lot right?
In the fitness industry, referrals are essential to your sales strategy. A well-executed referral program has the power to transform your business and boost your bottom line. But the problem is many health clubs don’t have a referral system in place.
And that’s a big mistake because the evidence shows that a whopping 9 out 10 buying decisions are made with peer recommendations.
What’s more is, after a positive experience, 83% of customers would be happy to provide a referral. Yes you read that right, if you’ve got 100 satisfied members in your health club, 83 of them would gladly recommend your club to family and friends.
But the problem? Most salespeople simply aren’t asking. Just 29% of customers end up giving a referral. You don’t need a PhD in business studies to see the gigantic untapped growth potential in the remaining 54% of customers. Especially when you consider that up to 92% of potential customers trust referrals from people they know.
You could spend years perfecting your sales skills and building out a sales team. Or you could let your customers do the heavy lifting by encouraging them to become your best salespeople. Whatever you do don’t overlook the power of a solid referral program.
Not Creating a Pipeline of Leads
It’s easy to take your foot off the gas when times are good. After all, lead generation takes a lot of time and effort. But not constantly seeking out new leads is a massive sales mistake and a sure-fire way to go from boom to bust quickly
To give you an idea of how critical lead generation is, HubSpot research showed that 72% of companies with less than 50 new opps per month didn’t achieve their revenue goals, compared to 15% with 51 to 100 new opps and just 4% for companies with 101 to 200 new opps.
That’s right, there’s a direct correlation between the number of sales opportunities you generate and the likelihood of you crushing your sales goals. So, don’t go resting on your laurels. Make sourcing new health club membership leads a priority for your health club at all times.
Following up Too Late
Did you ever text a friend to grab lunch, but they didn’t respond for 4 hours? Chances are you didn’t go for lunch – unless it was a very late one. The same thing happens to your prospects when you don’t reach out them soon after the contact you.
How soon? Well, An analysis of more than 2,200 American companies found those who tried to reach prospects in under 60 minutes were nearly 7 times more likely to have meaningful conversations than those who waited over an hour.
So get talking to your potential new members sharpish, either by phone, email or over social media. You only have a short window of opportunity to convert them into paying customers.
A Health Club Sales Strategy Checklist
Set Your Goal
If you don’t know where you want to go, it’s unlikely you’ll ever get there. Set sales goals that align with the overall goals for your health club. To get the best results, make it specific and measurable. For example;
‘This month we will generate 100 news leads and convert 5% of them leading to 5 new paying members. To accomplish this, I will undertake six follow-up calls, and 3 prospect meetings daily’.
Just like a personal trainer would do for a client, set goals to see results.
Narrow in on Your Ideal Customer
Fashion designer Liz Lange put it right when she said that “every brand isn’t for everybody, and everybody isn’t for every brand.” To crush your sales goals you need to get clear about who your target customer is. It’s time to stop wasting your time on people who aren’t interested in your fitness club. When you do that, you’ll save a bunch of time and be able to craft an offer that your prospects won’t be able to resist.
Get Your Website in Order
Your website is often the first point of contact between you and people looking for you. When somebody types ‘gym near me’ into Google, you don’t want them getting a poor impression. Your site doesn’t have to be the latest and greatest in web design, but ensure sure it’s clean, functional and makes it easy to contact you. And also, if you haven’t already done it, claim that google business listing too.
Be Friendly & Positive
This may sound obvious, but it’s worth mentioning because when you make a conscious effort to be friendly your prospects will leave your interaction feeling good themselves. And good feelings equal good sales. Famous psychologist Martin Selligman showed that optimistic sales folks outperform pessimists by 57%. And that’s even true when pessimists have more advanced sales skills. So remember to smile – even if you’re on the phone. Good vibes will shine through.
Questions, Questions, Questions
As previously alluded to, a lack of questions will shoot down your sales rocket in record time. Get genuinely curious about your customers. When a prospect tells you they want to lose 15 pounds, ask them why. When somebody tells you they’re stressed and need to blow off some steam, ask them where that stress is coming from. People always have personal reasons for joining a health club and if you can convince them that your fitness facility will help them achieve what they want, they’ll be happy to join.
Give a Killer Tour of the Facility
After you’ve found out what motivations a person has for joining your fitness studio, give them a personalized tour that highlights the aspects of your fitness center that align with those goals. For example, if somebody isn’t sure where to start you could introduce them to your personal training staff and emphasize your group fitness classes.
If somebody wants to de-stress and relax, you could introduce them to your yoga instructor, show them your sauna and if they have kids, emphasize your child care facilities. Tailoring your tour to your prospects leaves a killer impression – you’re literally presenting them with the solution to their problems.
Put the Sale on the Table
Many fitness professionals are afraid to ask directly for the sale. Heck, even some salespeople are too! But it’s important to remember that if you don’t ask, you won’t receive. So, always lay your best offer out on the table. Present your membership pricing and always have a number of options – 3-month gym only right up to 12-month all-inclusive memberships. There’s no need to be pushy, but asking with confidence communicates that your membership fee is totally worth it and that signing up is a no brainer.
Kicking your health club sales game up a notch is no easy task. It takes a lot of planning, consistent effort and the resilience to not give up easily. But thankfully, as a fitness entrepreneur, you most likely have such qualities in abundance. That’s what got your to where you are today.
Good sales bring in more customers and more revenue for your business. But more importantly, they give you the chance to make a meaningful impact on the lives of your members. As speech coach Patricia Fripp says “You don’t close a sale; you open a relationship. And relationships build long-term, successful enterprises.”