Let’s face it: Most personal trainers (myself included) don’t enjoy the selling part of their personal training services. But, what we dislike more is not having any money!
“Money can’t buy happiness, but neither can no money.”
As much as we love to talk about our dedication to continued education, the reality is: You can be the smartest and most educated fitness professional around, but if you don’t have a basic understanding of the business (selling) side of things – You’ll also be a poor fitness professional.
There are plenty of well-educated and under-paid (and some broke) personal trainers out there!
With this (uncomfortable) reality in mind – Here’s an article by Jonathan Goodman, from the Personal Trainer Development Center, that’ll help you successfully sell your personal training services so YOU can achieve your business (i.e. financial) goals while you help your clients achieve their fitness goals:
The 5-Step Selling Process for Personal Trainers
What’s the first thing a potential client says to you in a sales meeting? It’s probably something like:
- “How much does it cost?”
- “How often do I need to see you?”
- “How can I start?”
Your first reaction may be to answer the question. Unfortunately if you do you’re cutting your chances of making a sale way down. Even if you do make a sale it’s probably not going to be the one that you want. Instead of answering the question follow these 5-steps to consistently close sales with the best result possible.
Step 1: Ask, “What is it you want to achieve?”
The potential client has already invested time in speaking with you. Now it’s time for you to prove your worth, and asking this question right away shifts both control and focus.
You’ve placed yourself in the driver’s seat by asking the client to tell you about himself. Listen to what the person tells you and take careful notes. Ask if there is a specific reason why he is coming to you, and try to determine what will create an emotional connection for your client. Once you know what the client wants to achieve, you can sketch out a path for him.
It’s important during these initial meetings to be quiet and let the client speak. Often, all that I’ll do is ask questions and paraphrase their answers. Make sure you ask every potential client the following questions:
- Any injuries?
- What are your goals?
- Have you been a member of a gym before?
- Have you had a trainer before?
- Why did you quit (or not achieve success) previously?
- What are your expectations of me?
Pause for several seconds when you think the person is finished before you begin talking. The air in the room will be more awkward than when Luke Skywalker found out that Leia was his sister Leia but that’s what you want. When people feel awkward they’ll keep speaking about the first thing that comes to mind. Usually the result is for them to give you their deeper purpose for wanting to exercise.
Step 2: Sell results, not packages.
Once you know what the client hopes to achieve, hammer out a plan for your client that will meet his goals. If you think that his goals will take 4 workouts a week then give a brief description of why and what each workout will entail.
The important aspect here is to be brief. Start to paint the picture but the details don’t matter yet.
Let the client lead you in terms of how much detail you provide. I never know so I ask, “Do you want to know a little about how soreness works and why it is not a great indicator of how hard you worked.” I’ll follow with an overview on the physiology of adaptation and what they can expect.
Step 3: Address objections.
If your client has objections or questions, address them now. Say something like, “What do you think about the plan?” and then listen to what he says.
It’s rare to make a sale without dealing with objections. Getting a trainer is a big decision and clients want to make sure that you’re worth the bread in addition to being the right choice for them.
I recommend not bringing up the cost of training before the client has been sold on what you have to offer. The cheapest trainer in the World is too expensive if the client isn’t yet sold on your value.
Before you talk money, a client should have spoken to you at length about his exercise goals, history, previous challenges, injuries, and any possible training interruptions coming up. In addition, clients should be aware of your credentials, specializations (if they apply to them), the frequency they need to train and the general overall plan for the workouts, even if that’s subject to change.
They should be pumped to train with you before you bring up price.
If a potential client asks what you charge before you talk about your value, I suggest gently changing the subject. If the person still demands to know the cost, tell him, but your chances of making the sale go way down at that point. (Those clients will likely end up at the cheapest facility and there isn’t much that you can do.)
Address any reservations or concerns about hiring a trainer your client may have. No matter what the objection, I use the following technique as a simple guideline:
There’s always a tangible reason behind this excuse.
Here are some common objections or issues clients have and how to address them:
Lack of time. If a potential client lacks time to train, discuss different types of workout routines suited to her goals that will work within her timeline. For example, if you have a client who wants to lose fat, discuss metabolic workouts and how much more “bang for your buck” these workouts will get your client as opposed to steady-state cardio.
A previous injury. Make sure you understand the injury. I keep a database on the most common injuries I come across. (When I come across a new injury, I make sure to add it to the database.) Contained within that database are papers varying in complexity describing the injury and rehabilitation protocols.
If I’m familiar with the injury, I proceed to pummel the client with knowledge, so to speak. If I’m not familiar with the injury, I use the line “I can help you with that.” Either way, I print out some information for the client on the spot and hand it to her. You should always be looking for ways to go the extra 10%. (Check out 101 Personal Trainer Mistakes for free from thePTDC for to make sure you’re not missing anything)
A previous bad experience with a trainer. Don’t bad-mouth anybody. Always give a former trainer the benefit of the doubt, but educate the client as to how you would treat the situation differently. Say the client didn’t feel the previous trainer listened to her; I would tell her I was sorry about that but that as a client, she can call me during the day or email me any time.
I also remind her that during our sessions (or anytime she sees me in the gym—as long as I’m not with a client!), she’s welcome to speak about anything. Whatever the bad experience was, show that you’re going to deal with it differently. Be specific!
A know-it-all attitude. A fair number of clients believe they don’t need a trainer because they “know what they’re doing.” When I hear something like this, I get a thorough understanding of a client’s previous and current workouts and goals. I will then highlight several points where she can improve, and if I can, I provide the person with research on whatever her goals are (like hypertrophy, fat loss, or toning).
While this person may not hire you immediately, I suggest you stay in contact with this person. I’ve been amazed at the volume of these clients who have approached me in the weeks or months that follow for training.
“I need to think about it.” – This isn’t an objection. What does the client need to think about? Ask them and be quiet. There’s always a tangible reason behind this objection.
Cost. If you have demonstrated your value to a potential client, cost should not even be an obstacle!
Yes, some people can’t afford a trainer, but the fact that you’re a little cheaper or more expensive than another trainer shouldn’t matter. If $80/hour is too expensive, so is $70. But if a client understands your value, she won’t balk at $80/hour versus $70/hour.
Other than setting up payment plans when necessary, I’m against negotiating the price of training. You may however have to be creative (see step 5) in your plan if money is an issue.
Step 4: Get the buy-in.
Before bringing up price you should book the person into your schedule according to the plan you’ve sketched out. Having clients commit to training times and dates makes it harder for them to balk at the sale. Then, you can discuss money.
I suggest you have a professional sales sheet that details the different packages you offer. Then you offer clients two options (the best and second best), citing their goals. I might say something like,
“Sally, you mentioned that you really want to give this your all and we’ve set some pretty lofty but attainable goals of X, Y, and Z.
In order to hit these goals by the date you mentioned, I’m going to need you training with me 3x/week and twice on your own, where I’ll give you a full plan of what to do. The most cost-effective option is the 50-pack of sessions and it will take our training over 3 months to finish. This is more than enough time to get measurable results.
If that’s too big of a commitment for you off the bat, we also offer a 20-session package. Please also remember that our sessions are fully refundable so you don’t need to be worried about getting stuck with a larger package if something happens.”
I like to give two options because it makes for a softer sell, and gives the client a choice. I also remind the client that she can get a refund if she decides not to pursue training with me.
Step 5: Get creative if necessary.
You won’t always need to use step 5, but you will have clients that can’t train with you as often as your plan requires. That’s when you get creative to help your clients reach their goals.
For example, instead of giving a client a workout each time she comes in, you might give her an hour-long lesson in the weight room so that she is comfortable working out once or twice a week on her own. Or you might not even be in the weight room! I’ve taken clients into our conference room to go over their workout plans. The idea is to provide your clients with the tools they need to train on their own, if necessary.
If your client can’t work out with you as often as you’d like, tell her what she’ll be responsible for on her own, and get her to buy into it. Remember how to manipulate price. This may involve creativity on your part to make the sale but be careful not to prejudge a client and always start high.
If the client’s goals require her to work out 5 times a week, be honest and educate her about why this is so. I’m always surprised at how often a client will offer to train with me more frequently when I properly communicate what she needs to do to achieve her goals.
For example, Vlad was a member of the gym who would often ask me questions but he never asked to train with me. I always answered his questions, and was surprised when he finally asked me to be his personal trainer.
Vlad was recovering from rotator cuff surgery and didn’t have much money. Having completed physiotherapy, he wanted an exercise routine that he could do 3 times/week with a focus on continual strengthening of the shoulder and functional strength. He couldn’t afford to work with me this often, but wanted a program that constantly changed to keep him interested but still focused on his problem shoulder.
After educating Vlad on the necessity of progression, we agreed to meet once a week for 7 weeks. Vlad’s form was already pretty good, and I was confident that I could show Vlad a movement and he would be able to emulate it the following week. He also knew that he could contact me with any questions. I devised a workout plan for him that included 7 categories:
- Mid-back/shoulder stability;
- Core stability/anti-rotation;
- Core rotation/flexion;
- Legs (hip dominant);
- Legs (quad dominant); and
I included 4 or 5 exercises in each group and instructed Vlad to choose 1-2 exercises from each category per workout, focusing on shoulder stability and core strength. Our sessions consisted of making Vlad comfortable with the given exercises, and to make sure that he knew when the weight was appropriate and when it needed to be increased.
When we were done, Vlad had the freedom to choose from a large assortment of workouts. The exercises I included were specific to his needs and he knew how to progress. I gave Vlad the freedom and knowledge to make his own workouts within certain parameters, and he got much more value from this plan—yet he was still able to afford it.
Vlad no longer trains with me but has since referred both his daughter and wife and who both 2-3x/wk.
The 5-step selling system is just one very small aspect of my brand spanking new book Ignite the Fire available on Amazon and Kindle perfect for all personal trainers. The book will teach you how to:
- Find your dream personal training job
- Sell any client
- Build beginner workouts
- Market yourself
- Deal with difficult client types
- Make passive income
- Grow yourself, your career, and your bank account
Check out the wicked cool trailer:
Go here to get your copy of Ignite the Fire!
You’ve also got to get your hands on Jon’s newest book: The Race to the Top!
Jonathan Goodman’s a guy who loves personal training. Because of that he started the Personal Trainer Development Center and wrote Ignite the Fire – The Secrets of a Successful Personal Training Career. He also loves meeting passionate fitness pros so feel free to add him on Facebook.