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Establishing a Bond

Have you ever met a person and felt an incredible instant connection? It's almost as if you've known this person forever. Your gut tells you this person is someone you can trust and would enjoy getting to know better. Although you can't consciously make up your mind why you've sensed this connection, your subconscious mind has made the decision for you.

People hire professionals they like and trust — in other words, people they feel a bond with and connect with on an emotional level. And since this type of bonding takes place at the subconscious level, your staff of fitness professionals better learn how to access it if they are trying to sell their services too.

Amazingly enough, the words that actually come out of a person's mouth when talking to people don't have much to do with establishing a bond. While I'm not suggesting that trainers should — or their managers — should say whatever the heck they feel like to prospective clients, you and your staff must understand it's not nearly as important as you might think. In reality, what is important is how you say things to people and your body language. They both work on the subconscious level and that is what establishes the bond between you and your prospect.


So how do you get your staff to use body language to their advantage when trying to sell services? The best thing to do is to encourage them to “mirror” the prospect. They should never mock your prospect; merely assume the same body language he or she is presenting. If the prospect is the type of person that “talks with his or her hands,” then they should do the same — even if they don't normally speak with their hands. If the prospect is standing and the trainer is sitting down when they first meet make sure the trainer knows to stand up and greet the prospect. They need to have the same body language as the prospect.

If you or they do not use this technique already you'll be amazed by the results. The connection they will feel with the prospect will be uncanny. More than likely, they'll be able to find the emotional reason the prospect wants to achieve his or her desired fitness goals. And, since people hire fitness professionals for emotional reasons and not logical ones, they'll be halfway to closing the sale after about 30 seconds of conversation and bonding with the prospect.

How they say things isn't as important as body language, but it's still essential to bonding and closing a sale. The trainer is going to need to be a bit of an actor. Mirroring the prospect's tonality, sounding like they sound, makes them feel comfortable with who your trainer is. If they talk fast, the trainer needs to talk fast. If they are speaking slowly then your trainer should speak slowly. While this does take a little while to get used to, it's astoundingly powerful.

You can strengthen the bond between staff and prospect by having them use the same words they use. As an example, if your staff prefers the term “strength training” and the prospect refers to it as “resistance training,” be sure they begin saying “resistance training” during your conversation. This might seem insignificant, but the prospect's subconscious, where bonding takes place, will take notice. And whatever you do don't have your staff use complicated terms your prospect has never heard of. If they ramble on about periodization and fast and slow twitch muscle fibers there's a good chance the fitness novice across from them is going to feel silly. When that happens, guess what? You've destroyed the bond between them and more than likely blown the sale. There's no need to try and impress them. The prospect thinks the staff are experts, otherwise he or she wouldn't be talking to them in the first place.

These bonding techniques aren't meant to trick people to pay for something they don't need. They are powerful methods to help prospective fitness clients discover they need the services of a qualified professional. Yes, the goal is to close the sale. But more important, you're staff has gained a new client. And that means another person has begun the journey that is fitness.

Jim Labadie is a fitness entrepreneur, sales expert and speaker. To sign up for his free mini-course on sales for fitness professionals, please visit:

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