We received some great responses to my December IdeaXchange about selling, which calls for a revisit and some clarifications.
I start by repeating that I don't believe there are prospective member objections that a salesperson needs to overcome. What qualifies me to say that? My first career was in sales of investment and insurance vehicles. No better sales training schools existed in those days than those offered by insurance/investment companies. Much of today's selling protocols date back to those schools.
That type of selling was called "sales of intangibles"—trying to get people to buy something with no concrete evidence of the purchase. Selling health club memberships is much in the same vein—the buyer is making a purchase now of a perceived future benefit.
A tenant of that selling is seeking the hidden objection. It is based on the theory that selling is at best a mildly adversarial relationship that the salesperson has to win to sell the product. It is old-school and has become out-of-date in today's sophisticated consumer environment.
Perhaps it is a question of semantics. I say that potential customers are not objecting; they are communicating. They are giving salespeople the information they need to guide, not control, the conversation.
One longtime friend called me to pick a bone about my references to NTUM (needs, time, urgency, money). She felt that NTUM was gimmicky and did not address that most important aspect of selling memberships, which is relationships.
However, I believe NTUM does address relationships. If the club representative helps prospective members focus on what they need, if time allocation for exercise activities can be established, if urgency overrides buying hesitation and if money is not an issue, then the salesperson has created a workable relationship. That relationship likely will result in the consumer making the purchase.
In today's marketplace, many alternatives exist to being a health club member. Apps, wearables, streaming videos, free community programs and a host of other fitness opportunities flood every possible advertising venue. All of this means that selling memberships will become more challenging.
Sales personnel will do well to return to the basics of relationship creation if they are to succeed, especially in the current price-sensitive atmosphere.
Share your comments in the comment section below about how the sales process works for you today and how relationships fit into that process.
Michael Scott Scudder is founder/CEO of Fitness Business Council, the independent club business network. He can be contacted at 575-613-1004 or firstname.lastname@example.org.