Sales Is Not a Dirty Word


Now more than ever, we in the fitness industry have a moral obligation to help those who are in desperate need of our help. We have a responsibility to sell solutions to the problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Therefore, the fitness professionals that comprise your personal training department need to understand something — sales is not a dirty word.

Many personal trainers despise having anything to do with “sales.” They don't want to have to worry about selling anything. All they want to do is train people. While there is nothing wrong with wanting to help people, there is also nothing wrong with selling people. Not when the result of the money the client spent is a new body, outlook and lease on life. How do you put a dollar value on that?

Personally, I don't think you can. And I highly recommend that as a leader in your club, regardless of your title, you instill a belief in your staff that no matter what personal training costs at your facility, clients simply can never pay enough for the end result. That belief must be concrete if you hope to change the attitude your trainers have toward selling their services.

Now don't get me wrong. I don't mean to tell you that you should start to charge obscene amounts of money for personal training. And you must have trainers who deliver results. The point I'm trying to get across is it's not easy to sell something you don't believe is valuable. And since fitness comes so easily to so many personal trainers, many have a hard time asking for money (selling) due to the fact they cannot understand why others would pay for such a service. Trainers need to take a step back and really look at the value of the service they provide.


Often when that step back is taken the benefits to their clients become not only more obvious, but a selling point. Here's the tricky part. Promoting benefits makes for great marketing, but not great selling. Do you really believe in this day and age people don't know being more physically fit would benefit their health? Please. Instead of trying to sell the benefits of fitness, your trainers should be trying to find the “pain” of prospective clients.

What I mean by “pain” is a person's emotional reason for buying. People almost always buy for emotional reasons, not logical ones. Don't believe me? Why do people spend $100,000 on a car when they could purchase one that performs the same basic functions at a fraction of the cost? Have you ever spent twice as much for clothing you would have spent elsewhere just so you could have a certain name brand? Are these examples of logical decisions? No. They are both emotional choices. People make them all the time. Maybe not for a six-figure car, but emotional buying occurs often because in reality people buy things they want much more than things they need.

When you realize this phenomenon selling becomes even easier. If a prospect doesn't want to hire a personal trainer then don't bother trying to sell them training services. It's practically impossible to convince someone to buy something he or she doesn't want. Even if they desperately need it. This makes for no-pressure selling. Something your trainers will probably love you for. You see, professional selling is about closing every sale you should. It's not about pressuring people into forking over their money.

Prospects must convince themselves they need to hire a fitness professional. The trainer doesn't really need to do much more than listen and assure the person that they are capable of relieving their “pain.” And who knows what their “pain” is? It could be anything. People buy for the strangest reasons, but they always buy for their reasons and not yours or your trainers. That's why selling is about listening and not talking. The prospect should be talking approximately 70 percent of the time.

Your trainers need to be listening for “pain” cues from prospects such as: distraught, confusion, frustration, upset, concern — these are the types of things prospective training clients say about their lack of results. Exactly the type of people who want results. They don't need results, they want results.

Remember, everyone needs to live a more fit lifestyle. But unless they want to they will continue to sit on their couch and stuff their face. It's only when we find the prospects who want results do we have a realistic opportunity to sell them personal training services. And even then it probably won't be until they've exhausted less expensive options. But believe me, there are plenty of those prospects out there.

Jim Labadie is a fitness entrepreneur, sales expert and speaker. To learn more about his selling systems visit

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