How to Increase Health Club Sales by Not Selling

Personal trainer with client
(Photo by Thinkstock.)

When you walk into any store in the mall, a salesperson often walks up to you and asks, “May I help you with anything?” At that point, most of us say, “No thanks. I’m just looking.”

I find it fascinating that 99.9 percent of people say they are just looking even though they could probably use the help. The reason for this response is simple: we don’t want to be sold. Most companies “sell” too much. In fact, all many companies do is try to sell their product or service. The problem that arises from this is that the consumer becomes desensitized to salespeople because it is always about a sale.

The Sale

Before we go into how to sell without selling, you need to know what a “sale” is. A sale is nothing more than a transaction of money. In other words, me taking out my credit card, handing it to the salesperson to run the payment and then handing me the receipt. So if a sale is nothing more than a transaction of money, then every salesperson should realize that it should happen at the end of an experience with a consumer.

If you want to really increase your sales in the fitness industry, it comes down to one simple secret: Create a great experience before you sell.

Once you create a great experience that is void of such words as “promo” or “sale,” then the salesperson can truly actively listen to what the consumer’s needs and wants are. This might be a simple concept, but it is one that is rarely adhered to. Salespeople focus so much on what they want to happen with a consumer that they forget that it’s not about what the salesperson wants. Instead, it is about what the consumer wants, and if those wants aren’t met, you will hear many objections from the consumer, like they have to think about it or they have to talk to their spouse before making a decision.

Salespeople do not need to always communicate to the customer that they are the best and that they have everything the customer is looking for. When salespeople do this, they are selling, but as I said before, a sale should only happen at the end of an experience.

Create a Customer Experience

So what does that experience look like if it is void of any sales pitches?

Any great experience with a potential customer should involve a series of seeds that are planted by the salesperson. There is a difference between planting a seed versus selling. A trainer at a gym is a great example. Often, fitness facilities offer a free session or assessment with a new member of the gym. During that assessment, a trainer typically asks the member what their goals are (lose weight, gain muscle, etc.) After hearing the answer, many trainers typically start selling by saying that they can get the client to that goal or that they are the best so they can accomplish that goal with them.

Trainers can help the client achieve that goal, but they should not sell the person on that idea yet because they are still getting to know the member. Instead, this is the time to plant the seed. The trainer should say something like: “So I understand that you want to lose 10 pounds, and if you had a program that can get you there, is that something you would be excited to have?”

So what is the difference? Planting seeds is not talking about what you or your company can do for the customer but rather about finding their solution and getting the person excited about having it. Notice the choice of words “program” and would you be “excited” about having one. I did not mention me at all. Now do not get me wrong. After I give a great experience and plant many seeds, I will circle back at the end and make it about me or my company because that is where the sale should happen.

Remember that planting seeds creates great experiences and a customer is far more willing to purchase a product or service if they value that experience.


Kory Angelin is an award-winning trainer and two-time published author with more than 25 years in the fitness industry. He is a regional educator for 24 Hour Fitness working to help carry out its brand message. His industry experience includes partnering with Nike to launch its SPARQ brand, working with a variety of athletes from the NFL and NBA and being featured in "Sports Illustrated," "USA Today," "Training & Conditioning" and "STACK" magazines for his work in the fitness industry. Angelin has been an on-air host on QVC and is a sought-after motivational speaker. He holds a bachelor’s degree in sports medicine and has just launched his second book entitled #Sellout. To listen to Angelin’s podcast or to find out more information, log onto

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