This content is sponsored by Keepme.
Salespeople in the gym business know that a chasm often exists between what prospects say they’re going to do and what they actually do. You’ve given them an incredible tour, maybe even a free taster with your trainers. The gym looks immaculate, and you’ve smiled until your face hurts. But then you go to close the sale, and they tell you, “I’m definitely going to sign up. I just need time to think about it.”
It’s crushing because most of the time that translates as, “No thanks, but I’m not going to say it to your face.”
You question yourself: Were you too pushy? Was the membership plan too expensive? Was the trainer not attentive enough? Have they been lured by a new competitor that’s opened around the corner?
In reality, it usually isn’t anything you’ve done or not done. It’s simply that they weren’t the right prospect in the first place.
Focus on the Right People
Because prospects don’t have their true intentions tattooed on their foreheads, it can be difficult to discern intentions and prioritize leads in your gym sales process. The prospect in the previous example should have had “time-waster” tattooed on their forehead while a prospect that came in at the same time might have had “ready to go,” and a third might have had “potential but needs more attention.” Had that been the case, the salesperson would have known who to invest the most time with and how to approach each. The front of house team would have known how to categorize leads when they booked them. The trainers would have known how much time to spend with each. Plus, monthly lead conversion projections would be more accurate.
Know Which Leads Will Convert
The good news is, all of this is possible. Today. Not through physical tattoos, of course, but it is possible to know a prospect’s intention before they walk into your gym.
How? If you add artificial intelligence (AI) to your gym sales process, every lead that shows an interest in your gym can be given an accurate conversion score — immediately showing you the percentage likelihood they will become a member — before they ever walk through your doors.
Once you incorporate AI into your gym sales process, here are five gym sales tips that will help you harness AI to increase your gym membership sales:
1. Implement a scoring system for all your leads. All leads are not equal. An inquiry from a 16-year-old, for example, is not the same as an inquiry from a 25-year-old professional with the salary to match. Therefore, you have to develop a scoring system for all your gym sales leads that allows you to prioritize the high-value opportunities, meaning those with the strongest probability of becoming a member and the highest potential lifetime value (LTV).
2. Organize your gym sales funnel. You then need a defined process to deal with each priority level, all the while appreciating that time kills deals; every lead should be contacted quickly to avoid losing them.
When lead volume is high, gym lead automation plays a useful role. While you might pick up the phone to prospects who fall in your sweet spot of high likelihood-high potential LTV, automation allows you to make initial contact with lower priority (lower potential LTV) leads digitally — and therefore at greater scale.
This automated contact can include a suggested first action (e.g. book a trial) as a call to action, which provides further insight as to their intent — a positive response could change the lead score of a prospect and move them higher on your priority list.
3. Define your sales playbooks. Although your AI can draw invaluable insights from your data and gym automation can help you channel them, you will achieve your desired results only by turning insight into action. And that means a need for playbooks that outline how you want your team to use each insight.
I’ve already touched on these (the decision over whether to call or digitally contact your leads), but playbooks are vital to the in-person experience, too. AI is powerful and removes the guesswork around a lead’s intentions, but it is only as powerful as the people who use this information.
For the prospect who needs convincing, what might be their barriers and/or uncertainties, and what can you have up your sleeve to address these? What questions should you ask them to uncover their hesitancies, and what should be the balance between selling and listening? (Clue: Do lots and lots of listening.) How can you give them an experience that makes them feel positive about your club, so you get them over the line with a smile on their faces?
For the time-waster, how will you politely do enough that they don’t leave feeling negative about you and bad-mouth you to friends and family — the knock-on effect on other potential leads could be devastating, plus, in the end, well, you just never know — but at the same time not overly invest your valuable time and resources?
For the prospect who’s ready to go, you’ll still need to greet them warmly, build a good rapport, ask enough questions to know exactly what facilities to show them, and if appropriate, deliver a great taster class or training session.
You’ll also need to pitch the right membership package to them.
4. Pitch the right package. By profiling all your leads before they come in for a tour and mapping them against the profiles and habits of your existing members, your AI can offer insights not only into which leads are most likely to convert, but also which gym membership package they’re most likely to purchase.
This helps you maximize revenue as well as likelihood of conversion; after all, why sell a six-month package to a prospect who’s ready to go if all the data says they’ll be just as likely to purchase a 12-month membership?
The key here is not to see the gym sales process as separate from your gym retention strategies. Cement the new member’s commitment to you from the word go by encouraging them to mentally commit to still being with you in 12 months’ time.
5. Get the right leads in the first place. AI offers an opportunity to turbocharge your conversion rates by pitching your gym marketing just right, ensuring your gym sales funnel is filled with the right people in the first place — individuals who are most likely to convert to membership and to stay with you.
So, how does this work? Well, it starts by attracting leads that look exactly like your best customers. From your database of existing members, your AI builds a picture of your ideal customer: the customer who stays with you the longest, with the highest lifetime value.
Underpinning this, your AI will know the precise factors that characterize your ideal customer — everything from their age, to the classes they do, to the source through which they first came to you. It can then use this insight to create an avatar of that perfect customer. A “lookalike” that can be used to improve gym sales.
For example, when it comes to Facebook advertising, your AI will use the avatar it’s developed to create what Facebook calls a custom audience. In turn, this ensures your ad is served only to those who look similar to your best customers, helping you attract high potential LTV prospects.
Your cost of acquisition will be reduced because you only pay Facebook for a specific type of person. You might get fewer clicks, but your conversion rate will be higher and your conversion cost lower.
You might also place more emphasis on your gym referral program, encouraging your high LTV members to bring their friends with them — people who may well be like them and who will also instantly have a human, personal connection to your club (as well as someone to work out with, which is proven to drive loyalty).
The flip side, of course, is a scattergun approach that may get you more leads, but a large proportion of those leads will be time-wasters, squandering your resources.
Our advice: focus on quality, not quantity. Follow these gym sales tips and you’ll be well on your way.
Ian Mullane is founder and CEO of AI-powered sales and retention platform Keepme, He has brought together the diverse expertise of his career to date – including 12 years as an operator – in a ground-breaking business that boosts revenues for gym operators across the globe, harnessing the power of artificial intelligence to drive optimization and transform the way they interact with customers and prospects. Having spent 15 years working on fintech solutions for some of the world’s largest hedge funds investment managers, in 2007 Mullane founded Vanda.fit – Singapore’s first boutique boxing club – and alongside this, in 2008, the social media analytics platform Locowise. At Vanda.fit, he identified the need for a system that would optimize the performance of his club, which led him to develop Keepme. A respected thought leader, white paper author, regular industry event speaker and member of the ukactive Digital Futures Council, Mullane has a singular ability to first understand the challenges faced by our sector, then demystify the ways in which technology can help neutralize them.