5 Things Every Fitness Founder Needs to Know About Gym Membership Sales

Published on: 
12 February 19
Posted in: 
9 min read

One of the most famous speeches made about sales is by Alec Baldwin’s character in the 1992 movie Glengarry Glen Ross – a classic set in the cutthroat world of real-estate sales. Baldwin’s character Blake is brought in to motivate a group of down-on-their-luck real estate salesmen. Through a profanity-laced speech which has become something of sacred scripture in the world of sales, Blake hammers home this key point.

Always be closing.

However, when it comes to the world of selling gym memberships, you need to think about it in a different way. In fitness, you will not increase membership sales by being a pushy salesperson trying to close a deal. Instead, you need to approach sales with the potential member and their needs totally in mind.

Therefore instead of “always be closing” think of this;

Always be consulting.

So with this firmly in mind, in this article, we will go through the five key things you need know to help increase gym membership sales for your fitness business.

Help, Don’t Sell!

So the results of your marketing efforts are that you have lots of new leads in the pipeline. The task is now to convert as many leads possible to increase your membership sales numbers.

So what is the best way to approach this?

As we went through briefly in the introduction to this article, you need to “always be consulting”.

But what does that really mean?

When it comes down to it, you should always be in the mindset of helping, not selling. And there are two simple ways to do this – by asking questions about their needs and by listening to their answers. From the moment you either connect to them through your social media advertising or they walk up to your front desk, be in the mindset of asking and listening. Not telling and selling.

A typical example of where you can implement this when you talk to the lead for the first time. They are more than likely going to ask you this question: How much?

Instead of launching into a sales pitch describing your most expensive membership and all its benefits step things back for a minute.

  • Who is this person?
  • What are their fitness goals?
  • Are you the type of gym that is going to be able to help them achieve these goals?

These are the type of questions you should ask a potential new member before telling them anything about a price. The reason for this is that you should know exactly what the person wants and if you can provide it for them before selling them an unsuitable membership that the will cancel a few months down the line.

And if they are coming through the front desk and you need to give them a tour of the facilities or a preview of your classes, make sure that it is tailored to their needs. You can find this out by asking exactly what they need from your gym. There is no point in showing them the benefits of your high-intensity interval training if they have chronic knee pain.

This consultative style of selling is way more effective than just pushing a membership on them as it shows you are invested in their fitness goals from day one. It is also the hallmark of the more boutique and class-based studio you are aspiring to be. The goal is providing a quality experience to a smaller base of members, not get as many people in the door as you can and hoping they don’t cancel.

Script What Works

Settling on the best way of talking to customers is really a case of trial and error.  Even by following the advice we lay out in this article, you will never get it right the first time. Every studio is different and you will need to make slight variations in your approach to signing up new members. It will take you some time to figure out what is the most effective way of hitting your sales goals.

You should be writing down exactly what works and what doesn’t on a regular basis. This will help you constantly develop and improve your sales technique until you have it as close to perfection as possible. The document that you develop is called your sales script.

The sales script is a vital string in your sales bow. It allows all your staff your entire staff to follow a consistent sale technique. The reality is that you won’t have a dedicated sales team with years of experience in the early stages of your business. As a gym owner, you will need to take responsibility along with your staff for the sales operation. It’s very easy for some staff to hide and not participate fully in the sales process, so having a sales script everyone can follow will help you hit your sales goals.

As part of the ongoing process of developing your sales script, you should use role-play between you and your staff to help improve the sales pitch. You can tweak the script to suit the individuals in your team if needed to get them more comfortable with membership sales.

Finally, get some customer feedback about the process they went through to see what they liked and what they didn’t, so you can continue to tweak the script.

Build Relationships Through Trials and Challenges

One of the best ways to build a relationship with potential new members is to put them through a trial period so they can sample exactly what your business is like. Throughout this trial period, you should be in constant contact with the potential new member to find out of they are enjoying and if the experience is something that will help them reach their fitness goals.  When you have spent time investing personally in a potential customer, you are in a better position to close a deal with them the end of a trial.

There are two types of trial you can go for. You can either do the classic free trial model or you can try the low-cost free trial model that has become popular with the more boutique fitness studios. The advantage of the low-cost free trial is that by getting even a small financial commitment up front, you filter out the people who have zero interest The person who is willing to pay for a trial, however small, is more likely to sign up.

A good example of the low-cost free trial in action is this:

  • Do a $5 – $10 two week trial in which you can build a relationship with a member and showcase what you have to offer in the gym. You then have their card details on file to make conversion easy
  • Keep a consistent cadence of calls and emails within this two week period to make sure the member turns up regularly for class
  • At the end of the two-week trial, center the conversation around “upgrading” their membership from “trial” to “full”. This is less awkward and more streamlined as you have their card on file

Another great way of getting potential members in the door is the classic weight loss challenge.

Let have a look at an example of this.

  • Say you are doing a “28 Day Challenge”
  • Open it up to members of the public to get new members in the door
  • Once you have them signed up to the challenge, you have 4 weeks to build a relationship with this person into a full paying member of your gym

Not only it is a great way of acquiring new leads and hopefully new members, but it is also another useful revenue stream for your fitness business

Keep Following Up

Even if you have perfected your sales process, there is always the chance a person will say “no” the first time. The most common way to lose a sale is by giving up after the first couple of reach outs. According to data from customer experience platform Tenfold, most leads will close after nine or more follow-ups, but 44% of the time sales reps give up after one or two follow ups.

It’s clear then that you need to stick with a potential member to get them signed up for your gym. Research suggests that only 2% of sales occur when the two parties meet for the first time. Therefore you need to have a system in place to that ensures there is a consistent follow up of at least ten-to-twelve follow up phone calls and emails from the moment they become a lead.

Keep in mind that this process might only be to get them to the trial stage we have discussed previously. During the trial period, you should be checking in regularly both through calls, emails and in person during class.

There will always be a few people with commitment-phobia, so you need to be consistent in your follow-up to have a higher chance of turning that “no” into a “yes”.

Selling Never Stops

So once you have acquired these new members your sales relationship with them is over, right?

Not exactly. As we pointed out in our previous blog on gym retention statistics that it costs nine times as much to acquire a new member as it does to retain a current one. So you need to consider a different type of sales process which is usually known as a referral program.

If these members are satisfied with the experience they are having, they may have friends and family that are also interested in joining your gym.  By creating a referral program you can incentivize these members to recommend your gym to new members. Create a guest pass system that you that allows members easily bring potential new members along. The added benefit is that if they are happy enough to do this, it means you are more likely to retain them since now they’ll have a workout buddy to attend class with.

Additionally, as your customers’ fitness goals change over time, you need to be prepared to accommodate them. Track their progress and see if you can find ways to make their membership work better. As they get fitter, they may be more suited to one of the higher priced memberships. Selling this initially might have resulted in a churn.

As you can see, gym membership sales is a process you’re always striving to perfect. Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll focus the early steps on helping in the knowledge that helping your customer first will pay dividends in the future.