Engage the Prospect in a Three-Part Conversation to Increase Health Club Sales

Engage the Prospect in a Three-Part Conversation to Increase Health Club Sales

Before I do sales training with a club, I research how the staff currently sells. My research reveals that the conversations consistently are more about the club than about the prospective member’s interests, needs, motivations and sense of urgency. If your staff shifts the sales conversation to be about the buyer, they will create a more intimate dynamic, customize the selling conversation, decrease your sales cycle and increase your sales.

Sales conversations should be broken into three parts: the pre-tour, the tour and the post-tour.

Pre-tour. Your sales reps should greet prospects in the lobby and transition to a comfortable place (not a sales office) to gather information about them. No selling should happen here. Instead, the reps should simply build rapport while asking questions to find out what will make the prospects say yes and what will make them hesitate to say yes. Your reps must become systematic (not interrogational) about getting the answers to these two key questions before beginning the tour.

Drivers that make prospects say yes B include their interests, needs and motivation. Your staff should find out what activities prospects want to participate in, the outcome or results they desire and the driver behind their needs, whether it be external or internal.

Causes of hesitation relate to level of eagerness, decision-making ability, time, financial situation and any other limitations. Your reps must discover their willingness to get started now, find out if they are the sole decision-maker or whether they need to confer with someone else, how many times per week they will use the club, what time of day works best for their workouts, what they have budgeted for their membership and anything that did not fall into these four areas of hesitation.

Most underperforming salespeople focus too much on the drivers of interest and needs without taking the time to address hesitations. Without knowing the hesitations, they cannot build an exciting, personalized presentation of the club that answers all of the prospect’s questions. Thus, the sales process becomes mechanical rather than gracious, and it does not result in many first-time closes. This leads to the need for a lot of follow up and the potential that your club will lose the prospect to another club whose staff does a better job of gracious selling.


Your staff must be intentional in the pre-tour, and they must keep this fiveminute conversation focused on the necessary questions rather than on small talk or sales talk. The pre-tour is for gathering the information that makes the tour a success as well as establishing credibility as a caring, concerned sales professional. Each of your staff members should make a list of questions that work best for them to gather this information.

The Tour. By mastering the pretour elements, your staff can focus on prospects’ hesitations about joining your facility and offer solutions during the tour. By applying the information they attained in the pre-tour, they can customize the experience, build desire, create differentiation, handle concerns and close the sale on the tour.

To consistently execute the tours in this manner, your staff should focus on customizing the tour based on applying all pre-tour points, being inspirational and persuasive rather than being simply informative, creating desire and reasons for the prospect to join today—other than promotional urgency—and discussing benefits specific to the prospect rather than presenting features. They should create value by creating differentiation between your club and your competitors, planting gracious seeds for new member guest privileges, using trial closes to determine how you may need to reposition, handling concerns on the tour and closing on the tour.

By executing consistently with all of these points, your staff will create a more customized and personal dynamic that allows them to close more sales faster and build a more solid relationship with new members, which will lead to more referrals.

The Post Tour. The post tour is entirely about paperwork, the agreement, the health history questionnaire, any new member program privileges the prospect will be purchasing and the new member guest privilege. No buying decisions will be made here because they already should have been made on the tour. Your sales reps will have handled all hesitations on the tour and closed the sale on the tour because they will have done a masterful job in the pre-tour and applied what they learned from the prospect in the pre-tour to answer any hesitations during the tour.

Also on the tour, your sales reps should have discussed the new member guest privilege, which should inspire prospect to think about who they would like to host as guests during the first 30 days of their membership so they are prepared to execute on that as well. If your club offers new member guest privileges for non-dues revenue programs, your sales staff will have already discussed all benefits, details, pricing and secured their buying decision on the tour.

This format for selling is so much more professional, conversational and functional than the historical model of “show and tell, then sell after the tour.” I encourage you to examine how you can revise your selling model to be more effective by using all elements of the pre-tour, the tour and the post-tour model.


Karen Woodard-Chavez is president of Premium Performance Training in Boulder, CO, and Ixtapa, Guerrero, Mexico. She has owned and operated clubs since 1985 and now consults with and trains club staff throughout the world.

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