Summer is about over and fall is a busy season in the fitness industry, second only to January and New Year's resolutions for an influx of new members and potential clients. If your fitness professionals are not skilled at helping people overcome mental barriers to joining a health club or purchasing training, then those people will never take the steps they need to get fit.
Most prospects and members mention the same obstacles to joining a health club, which means that if your staff is prepared with responses to help people overcome those obstacles, you will be successful.
Here are five common objections:
- I want to think about.
- I don't know if I'll stick to it.
- I've tried before and never experienced any results.
- I can't afford it.
- I'm too busy.
When you have responses prepared for each objection and have role played various scenarios, you can often overcome concerns. Here is a system that can help:
1. Listen to the entire concern without interrupting.
2. Paraphrase and repeat the obstacle back to them. Let their brain hear what they just said. When they hear it coming from your mouth, the brain processes it differently. Often, they realize that the obstacle is not valid, and they need to stop thinking and take action. You could use paraphrasing similar to this:
- "It sounds like you're concerned that you might not be able to stick with this long enough to experience great results."
- "So, you're a bit concerned with how much this will cost."
- "It sounds like you're not sure how you're going to be able to fit exercise into your already busy lifestyle."
- "It sounds like you want to take some more time to figure out if this is really important to you and you're ready to make the commitment to achieving your goals."
- "So you need to talk to your husband to make sure he's okay with you taking this step."
3. Wait. Give them time to agree with the paraphrase, to talk themselves into taking action or to pose another obstacle. Often after you paraphrase, they will confirm that what you said was correct, at which point you can skip to the next step.
Or they might say more, such as something similar to this:
"Well, I am concerned that I won't stick with it because I've tried exercise before and never succeeded, but I guess that's what I'm hiring you for. You're going to help me stick with it and provide the accountability I need. I think I just need to do this and stop dragging my heels." They just convinced themselves to take action. You can now close by getting their commitment—scheduling an appointment, asking which package they would like to go with, etc.
"Well, I know you'll help me stick with it. I guess I am just more concerned about how much this will cost." Go back to the first step. Paraphrase and repeat the obstacle back to them. Once you get affirmation and are dealing with the true obstacle, move to the next step.
4. Show understanding. Say things such as, "I can completely understand that. Many of our clients had very similar concerns when they first started with us."
5. Ask questions and/or give information (see next page).
6. Close. Schedule an appointment, decide on a package/service, decide on payment options, fill out paperwork, etc.
Role Playing How to Overcome Objections
People come to us because they are interested in becoming healthier, and they recognize the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. We just need to show them that we can help them. Here are some ideas to help you deal with some of those typical objections. Depending on your personality, you may feel more comfortable with certain approaches and uncomfortable with others. Go with what feels right—but just be prepared.
Objection: I can't afford it.
Scenario: They can afford our services but just need to be shown the value.
Client: "Wow, I'm a bit surprised at how expensive this is going to be."
Fitness Pro: "It sounds like you're a bit concerned with how much this is going to cost and whether you're ready to make that investment."
Client: "No, I'm ready to make an investment to some extent. I guess I just want to know exactly what I'm paying for."
Fitness Pro: "I really respect that you want to see the value in what we're going to do together. It tells me that you're taking this very seriously and that's important. So let me ask you this: Do you see the value in having us oversee your program, monitoring progress, holding you accountable and ultimately making sure you achieve your goals?"
Client: "Yeah, absolutely."
Fitness Pro: "That's great. So you've told me that your health and fitness is very important to you, and it sounds to me like you're ready to take action, so is there anything else keeping you from getting started?"
Client: "No, I guess not."
Fitness Pro: "So it sounds like you've already made the logical decision. Many people spend their whole lives just thinking about achieving their goals, but you're actually going to do something about it, so you should feel really good about that. Okay, then, let's go get you scheduled and take care of the details."
What would you do if they couldn't actually afford the option you initially presented?
Objection: I want to think about it.
Scenario: They want to keep thinking but really need to start doing.
Client: "Thank you so much for your time. I'm going to take all this material home with me so I can think about it, and I'll call you next week to let you know what I want to do."
Fitness Pro: "It sounds like you need to take a little more time to decide if this is something that you really want to do for yourself."
Client: "Yeah, I just need to absorb it all."
Fitness Pro: "I really respect that you want to make sure you're making the right decision. This is an important step towards reaching your goals, and I'm glad you're taking it seriously. What is it that concerns you the most?"
Client: "Oh, I don't know. I guess I just need to figure out which training option I should go with and how many times I should work out per week."
Fitness Pro: "So, you've already told me that your health and fitness are really important to you, and it sounds like you're ready to take action but you're just trying to figure out which option would work best, correct?"
Fitness Pro: "Well, that's what I'm here for. I'm here to help you make the commitment to yourself and do what you need to do to be at your best. A lot of people spend their whole life thinking about taking better care of themselves but never actually do anything about it. But you're here today, so it sounds to me that you're ready to stop thinking and actually start doing. Am I right?"
Client: "Yes, that's correct."
Fitness Pro: "Okay, well let's review your options again, so we can make a decision today and get you started right away."
Client: "Sounds great."
What would you do if you found out there were other obstacles?
Objection: I want to talk it over with my spouse.
Scenario: There are really other obstacles.
Client: "Thank you so much for your time. I'm going to take all this material home with me so I can discuss this with my husband, and I'll call you next week to let you know what I want to do."
Fitness Pro: "So it sounds like you just want to make sure your husband is okay with all of this."
Client: "Well, no, he totally wants me to do this. I guess I'm just more concerned with spending all this money and not sticking with it. I guess I don't want to feel like a failure."
Fitness Pro: "I'm so glad to hear that your husband is in support of you doing this. That will help a lot. So it sounds like you're more concerned with whether you're going to actually stick with the program long enough to experience results.
Client: "Yeah, I've started exercise programs in the past, but I always quit after a few weeks."
Fitness Pro: "I can totally understand that concern. You're not alone. Many people start an exercise program on their own with little or no success. That's why you need us. We will design a routine that will help you achieve the results you want. We will update your program on a regular basis to give you variety and keep you challenged. Our goal is to keep you motivated and on track. So if that's what you're worried about, you can stop worrying now. That's why we're so special. We will provide you with the accountability to stick with it."
Client: "Yeah, I guess that's the missing piece."
Fitness Pro: "Great, well, let's go get you scheduled for your appointments and finalize all the details."
Objection: I don't have the time.
Scenario: They are really busy and need to be shown that exercise can fit into their life.
Client: "This all sounds great, but honestly, I just don't see how I'm going to fit exercise into my life. I work, I've got kids and my life is crazy as it is."
Fitness Pro: "So it sounds like you're having a hard time figuring out how you're going to fit exercise into your already really busy life."
Client: "Yeah, I just don't see how I can make it happen."
Fitness Pro: "I can completely understand. In fact, we actually specialize in helping really busy clients fit fitness into their schedules. Most of our clients have work, family and social commitments that compete for their time, leaving very little time for workouts. But what most people don't realize at first is that exercise actually gives you more time instead of taking up time. You see, exercise actually gives you more energy and stamina. You'll actually be more productive so that you'll be getting things done more quickly and with still more time left to enjoy the important things in life. And that's what it's all about, right?
Client: "Yeah, you're right."
Fitness Pro: "Okay, great. Plus, we'll make sure your workouts are effective and efficient and that you're not wasting any time in the gym and getting maximum results from your workouts. That will save a ton of time, too. Let's go get you scheduled for your workouts and finalize all the details.
Client: "Sounds great."
Most fitness professionals are uncomfortable with this initial aspect of helping clients overcome their personal obstacles. But if we don't help our fitness pros develop the skills to influence people to make the commitment to something that is extremely important, then we do them a disservice. So teach your team not to think of it as sales but to remember that it's their job and responsibility to help people take action.
Sherri McMillan has been inspiring the world to adopt a fitness lifestyle for more than 25 years and has received numerous industry awards, including the 2010 CanFitPro International Fitness Presenter of the Year, the 2006 IDEA Fitness Director of the Year, the 1998 IDEA Personal Trainer of the Year and the 1998 CanFitPro Fitness Presenter of the Year. As a fitness trainer, fitness columnist for various magazines and newspapers, author of five books and manuals (including "Go For Fit - the Winning Way to Fat Loss", "Fit over Forty" and "The Successful Trainers Guide to Marketing"), featured presenter in various fitness DVDs and international fitness presenter, she is a spokesperson for Nike, Schwinn and PowerBar. Her personal training studio, Northwest Personal Training, in Vancouver, WA, has been awarded the Better Business Bureau Business of the Year and the Chamber of Commerce Community Builder Award for efforts at improving the community and fundraising initiatives. She can be reached at www.BusinessofPT.com or www.nwFitnessEducation.com.