January is busy for everyone in the fitness business, so busy that at times it feels like you can't do your job as completely as you know you should. If that means certain elements get missed or are omitted, then that is a big mistake for your health club's sales success.
Make sure you are consistent with the following five tools with each and every prospect/member because consistency is the key to transforming a good January into a great January and a great January into a strong February, March and April.
1. Complete pre-tour. In every selling conversation, there is the pre-tour, tour and post-tour. The pre- tour sets the stage for success in the tour and the post tour. If you do not do it well and completely, the rest of your selling conversation will be adversely affected. A complete and well-done pre-tour reveals to you precisely what will make the prospect say yes to joining and what will make them hesitate to join. Thus, you know precisely what to discuss/show them on the tour and how to build in solutions to their hesitations and have it feel conversational rather than sound like a strong-arm technique of "overcoming objections" at the end of the selling conversation. A complete pre-tour includes questions that reveal prospects' interests, needs, urgency and motivation—all the reasons they will say yes. It also includes questions that reveal prospects' potential hesitations such as eagerness, decision making ability, time availability, financial availability and other limitations.
You can see that if you ask these questions and take good notes on the answers, then you will be able to create a sales presentation that is about the prospect and not just about the club. Doing so makes the tour far more compelling for them than the boring club tour.
2. Early and often. The concept of early and often relates to bringing up early and often in the conversation anything you want to have happen in the sales presentation that day. The things you want to have happen include having the prospect join today, having the prospect feel comfortable enough with you that they want to participate in your new member guest privilege program as well as purchase an introduction program to personal training/Pilates/swim lessons/small group training, etc. The mistake we make is that we may present these elements at the end of the selling conversation in a harried manner because we are just trying to get through all the joining documents. When that happens, the importance of getting involved in these programs gets lost, and you do not earn the sale or the commission. Begin the conversation about these points while you are on the tour, and do it multiple times. By doing so, you eliminate the "let me think about it" response that you likely get by presenting it only at the end of the conversation.
3. Zip up the next step. If your prospect does not join today (this assumes you have had discussion about their hesitations), then you need to have the follow up plan zipped up. What that means is that before they leave the club, you have invited them to be your guest to do something they expressed they would like do as a member. If their interest is yoga, then you should invite them to the 10 a.m. yoga class tomorrow or the following day as your guest. They will agree, and you will now have an appointment with them. Most membership sales people simply give the prospect a guest pass to come back to the club without scheduling a specific time or event. By giving a guest pass, you give away all of your influence and ability to manage your time and leads. By scheduling a specific activity at a specific time, you shorten your sales cycle, manage your time more effectively and provide a better experience for the prospect to become a member.
4. NMGP (New Member Guest Privilege). The NMGP is something that should be done early and often with every prospect. There needs to be a value difference between an NMGP and regular guest passes. For example, the NMGP might be three-day access for three of the new member's friends that allow them to participate in small group training and are only active for the first 30 days of their membership. This is different than a guest pass for up to three people. It has value and urgency. You can arrange this in several ways – either through a link that you send your new member or the good old fashioned way of having them write down the names and contact information of the folks they would like you to arrange the privilege for. The latter creates a lot more work for the salesperson. The link sure makes it easier.
5. Set appointments. Please, please, please avoid the mistake of having people "stop by" when you are responding to their web inquiries or phone inquiries. It places you in a position of providing potentially terrible service where you have to make the prospect wait. It also does not allow you to manage your time well when someone just stops by. As discussed earlier, January, February and March are a busy time of year, and you want to maximize every opportunity you can as well as provide the best service you can. Set yourself up for success by finding out early what the prospect's interests are and what time of day they prefer to exercise. Then, invite them in as your guest to do what they want to do at the time they like to do it. Let people know that because January is a busy season and you want to provide the best service possible, you are scheduling appointments. If they buck and ask for a guest pass instead of scheduling an appointment, then you should respond by saying the following: "Yes, we do have guest passes, and I can leave one for you. However, they are $25 per day. If you would like to be my guest, which is by appointment only, then there is no fee. Which would you prefer?"
Practice these five tools consistently and you will close more sales, shorten your sales cycle and create more guests that turn into members for the months to come.
Karen Woodard is president of Premium Performance Training in Boulder, Colorado and Ixtapa, Mexico. She has owned and operated clubs since 1985 and now consults and trains staff throughout the world on sales, service, management and leadership. These services are offered on-site, online and through her books, manuals and DVDs. Woodard can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-417-0653.
Note: If you would like five more tools to create a great January, February, March and April, join Woodard for a free webinar hosted by Matrix at 4 p.m. Eastern on Jan. 18. To register, please click here.