This article was written by John McDermott Msc, who provides expert sales training for boutique fitness studios. You can find out more about John and where to find him at the end of the article.
The hit turn-of-the-millennium film Boiler Room depicts the seedy, fast-paced world of a chop-stock brokerage firm in which the characters posture like Gordon Gecko and spout numerous philosophies about the art of selling. One of the most notable phrases is the classic concept “sell or be sold.”
But what exactly is this?
The idea is that in any sales pitch, your prospects either buy from you or you buy their reasons for not buying! However, fast forward to 20 years later, and this hard-sell approach is really starting to show it’s age.
But the underlying idea of skillfully handling common sales objections is a natural part of selling. Mastering this skill will start getting you results and ultimately make a real difference to your boutique fitness business.
Why You Need to Be Able to Overcome Objections
To understand why overcoming objections in sales is so crucial, let’s look at it through the prism of The Diffusion of Innovation Model which you can see below:
Companies will use this model when launching a new product or service to the market. Basically, the product or service can be adopted by five different categories of customer type. There is a difference in the way you engage with each category. Here is a quick overview of each customer type and what they mean
- Innovators: will always latch onto innovative new ideas and are easy to convince to try something new. (2.5%)
- Early Adopters: require little persuasion and like to give feedback centered on improvements and efficiency. (13.5%)
- Early Majority: more likely to engage through testimonials and interviews from early adopters. (34%)
- Late Majority: skeptics who not adopt unless they have a strong feeling of missing out and will likely be only persuaded by a large amount of evidence that something works. (34%)
- Laggards: usually will only come on board if they feel there their problem won’t be solved by other alternatives. (16%)
Based on the Diffusion of Innovation Model, around 16% of your potential customers (Innovators and Early Adopters) will be open to what you are selling to them. They are ready to make a purchase decision on the spot with little or no persuasion.
On the other end of the scale, 16% are just there to kick tires and are almost sure to never go for it without a hell of a lot of work. But then we come that middle 68% which represents a massive wedge of opportunity. Solve the questions and concerns here, and you will have a positive impact on your sales result.
Objections are common in this middle grouping, ranging from easily solved issues to issues that need a bit more cajoling. You need to discover the real reason behind their hesitation and their preference for action over in-action. The likelihood of them ever coming to a decision quickly diminishes the longer you leave it without making an interjection.
So in this article lets have a look into the common sales objections and how you can overcome them.
1. It’s Too Expensive / I Can’t Afford It
Pretty common right?
Now, this objection means one of 5 things:
- You genuinely are too expensive (very unlikely),
- The presentation of prices have come too soon
- A prospect customer genuinely can’t afford it
- The prospect genuinely can’t afford it (unlikely, but be respectful)
- You haven’t been effective in demonstrating value, rather than simply cost.
To handle the first of these common sales objections you first should empathize with the situation. With any objection, you always try and empathize with the prospect.
Then your task is to reframe the price in terms of value rather than cost. To do this, you need to build back up the reasons that your prospect had for enquiring about your studio in the first place.
Needs analysis are a good way of discovering the real reason a person wants to join. A needs analysis is a formal way of identifying if a product or service addresses the needs of the customer and can be done with a simple set of questions. Refer back to this to remind them of the goals they want to achieve and the reasons they have for achieving them.
Once you have refreshed the importance to your prospect, it’s easier to reposition your offer as they are now in a new mindset. Ask more follow-up questions on their goals and refer to a feature that you may have in your packages or service delivery that relates directly to what they want to achieve. The key is to demonstrate value over cost.
Another technique is to use genuine success stories of current members who were in a similar position to your current prospect. Illustrate how they have achieved their goals with you, as opposed to paying less elsewhere and not.
2. I Need to Think About It
Roughly translated as: “Stop talking to me, I don’t want to make a decision.”
Unless your prospect falls into a small minority of people who need to read the fine print before making a decision, chances are, they are simply in that central 68% who mostly prefer inaction over action. The likelihood is they will put off the decision for a future day that will probably never come.
From a sales perspective, the vital point to make is that this is not actually an objection. It’s a default distraction tactic that works almost all the time to get you out of any situation…sell or be sold, remember?
The first thing you need to do is to identify why they want to escape from the decision-making process. This doesn’t mean asking “Why do you need to think about it?!!” as this may come across as rude. It’s too much of an open-ended question anyway to give you an answer to work with.
Instead, ask a question with two options to answer. These options should be the two most common and manageable objections are that you generally hear. A good example would be “Is the length of the commitment or when you want to start that is your sticking point right now?” Another example might be, “Is it the payment options or the type of membership package that you need think about?”
Your prospect will then self-select one of the two options, at which point you can begin the process of empathy. Then refresh their goals present an important feature or success story. If there is still doubt, ask more follow-up questions with two options as an answer.
With the “thinkers” you may also want to provide sufficient social proof to help to direct action, rather than merely giving them more logical information. Sometimes information alone almost certainly won’t change their mind. Inject energy or emotion to overcome a thinker’s mindset. Otherwise, their default response will be: “I hear you, but I have to go and get dinner started.”
3. I’m Not Fit Enough to Start Yet
This is an objection I used to hear a lot.
Some gyms and fitness studios can look intimidating to someone who is maybe a little out of shape, or not as fit as they want to be. The key to helping a prospect overcome this issue by showing understanding and empathy. It is one of the concerns that most affects the decision-making process.
To find out the real reason behind this apprehension, your rapport building and understanding of personality will come into play. If you feel the person is eager for a solution straight away, get to the point quickly:
“On your first visit we will do x,y and z to ensure, you get to the level you want to be asap.”
However, for those that need a little more nurturing, the conversation should be framed around reassurance. A great idea is to use some examples of specific people who have started the same position as them and showcase the journey they have gone on.
Again these types of customers objections, like many others, require empathy, not just as a first step but throughout. To overcome this type of objection, it’s more about taking the pressure off and using those features of service delivery for results-driven people, and those success stories for more relationship-driven people. A clear recommendation to direct action needs to happen at the conclusion here. This could be signing up for a trial, a challenge, or a membership. If you have built sufficient rapport, it’s a simple opportunity that is missed often. Make a recommendation and tell your prospect what you think they should do … and ask if they agree!
4. I’m Too Busy with Work at the Moment
As you can see, there will be many hurdles in your way when overcoming sales objections. The next one is similar in a way to the previous concern. The prospect is basically saying, “I like it, but….” Or “it’s not you; it’s me.”
And what is the solution to that?
Empathy is the core of your response here, along with reminding them that people have been in this situation before. Refresh the reasons why they came in or enquired in the first place. If they are stating this type of objection; their logical brain is happy to receive more information about why they should take action. Then combine this with a success story related to the specific feature or set of features that will help them emulate that success for them.
You want to illustrate that you have thought about this very set of circumstances and that you have created things in such a way that this objection or hesitation can easily be overcome:
“We have a few clients in a similar situation as you, and so we do things in this way <feature> because that allows you to <outcome: e.g., work around a busy schedule, change appointments/bookings, train anywhere, etc.> and these are the results they have gotten from doing it this way.”
5. I Want to Look at My Other Options
If you are involved in boutique fitness, you must understand that from the customer’s point of view it’s all about choice. This is the reality of the decision-making process. You need to respect that at the same time, be very knowledgeable about what those other options are, and how they operate.
The danger here is two-fold. Firstly this may simply be a variation on “I Need to Think About It,” which its the prospect saying that they want to delay the decision. Secondly, your competitor down the street may do a better job of directing action when they meet with your prospect. The visit to your fitness business may be a distant memory!
Again like the other common sales objections we have referred to, empathize, and bring the conversation right back down to a casual level. Show a genuine interest in where they may be thinking of visiting as an alternative option. Circle back around to the fitness goals they want to hit and then illustrate how those can either all be achieved with you, or in combination with the other location (if they offer something completely different to you).
If the combination is possible and you have genuine examples, this is the opportunity for another success story. Give examples of people in similar situations who train at both places, and they do it this way and then give the reason for this. Make a recommendation for action so that the person in front of you follows this social proof and feels reassured that they can do the same. Use incentives to offer added value to and make sure it is linked to an action. For example, you could say something like: “Well if you want to get things in place today, how about I include X?”
Finally, If it turns out that they need that bit of time to think, no matter what you say, then ensure the follow-up call is locked in tight. Have the prospect tell you what specific time and date they are available rather than you telling them. It will make them far more likely to pick up your call when they see your name and number flash up on their display at their suggested time…rather than your suggested time!
And so there you have it, the five most common objections that I come across in boutique fitness and how to handle and overcome them!
Don’t forget always to empathize first, so that you make the first move towards the other person, rather than standing your ground and shouting at them to come to you, like some hard-sell approach!
Refresh with them why they showed an interest in the first place. Then offer features to help to challenge the objection.
Remember that logic may not be enough in many cases, and so ensure that you have a good number of genuine success stories and examples that relate to these objections and obstacles. This will then allow your prospect to make a connection on a more emotional or gut level.
And of course, don’t forget to direct action, making recommendations and backing them up with the word ‘because’…
After all, I totally understand that being comfortable in challenging objections can seem daunting at first. I have worked with many people just like you who felt that way when starting. But by studying these five objections regularly, they were able to see a significant improvement in their sales results.
About the Author
John McDermott MSc provides Training both onsite and online for Boutique Studios and Personal Trainers to improve their conversions from leads into customers and to engage all Studio team members in the Sales outcomes of the business. Connect and view his experience on: