Lead generation is one of the most critical aspects in the sales process. It is important that a club and its sales force work together to have a well-rounded marketing plan that constantly evaluates how to attract prospects. This article will cover ideas for club operators that combine external and internal marketing and to help sales reps extend their lead opportunities.

Ask yoursef, What if …

  • I could find more qualified prospects to fill up my schedule?
  • I had an endless supply of prospects?
  • We had a waiting list for membership?
  • I could have the confidence that I could not fail?

How would this impact your attitude and your motivation level? It is important to establish the value of your time and expertise with your prospects. You are a professional who is going to help your prospects feel healthier and in some cases, save their lives. That's an incredible responsibility. Be unique, learn and grow to believe in your product and the value of your time and commitment to health and fitness.

One thing that holds us back is our lack of confidence in our abilities. If you felt like you were unstoppable, that you could not fail, what would you attempt and would failure matter? Of course not. Keeping your sales pipeline full will help you maintain your confidence level while focusing your time and energy on qualified prospects.

Keeping your lead pool full will help ensure that your sales production will stay steady and constant. Remember, what you sow you will reap, so understanding that planting enough seeds to harvest is a constant cycle.

DEVELOP A LEAD GENERATION PLAN

  1. Become familiar with your community. Understand the age, population density, gender, income, education and corporate/business areas, which will help identify the types of prospects within your demographic area.

  2. Get a map and identify your market share. Place pins where your competitors are located and then draw a radius around your club. This will be the area where you spend your energy because it will have a 20 percent penetration for membership — the highest return. It usually consists of three- to five-block radiuses, but in certain areas can be up to a square mile.

  3. Define how many leads you are going to need to reach your monthly production goal. For example, if your goal is 50 memberships per month you are going to need “X” number of leads. You can't rely on the club's walk-in traffic and you can't factor in leads already generated by the club. In some cases, you will need to generate 150 to 200 leads per month to reach your goal.

  4. Factor in the type of lead you are working on. Leads that come into the club are usually hot leads and will have a closing percentage of 50 percent to 60 percent. Referrals are also an excellent source of leads because they are word of mouth from an already satisfied member. Sales are all about building a network of people who will be interested in using your product. Who does not want to feel and look better? Stay attached to the members you join at the club and have a goal to get four to five names from each member that would be interested in receiving the same health benefits.

  5. Become a community centerpiece. The first part of becoming involved in the community is to know what is happening. Get the local paper and read the articles, ads, services, classifieds, real estate and politics. Look for opportunities like new businesses opening, festivals, events and group meetings. Your goal is to expose your club in the most time efficient manner. Speak at a local meeting in your community. Also, making announcements in group fitness classes is an excellent way to promote the club and get your name out there within the membership.

IDEAS FOR EXTENDING YOUR MARKET

Lead boxes were once a way to attract new prospects. Placing lead boxes throughout the community was a way for clubs to increase their lead bases and increase market share, however, a less labor intensive way to achieve the same result is to place signs promoting the club within businesses. The signs are centrally located and drive leads through your Web site by offering a week pass to prospects or some other incentive. All the prospect has to do is log on to the club's Web site. The Web site is then used as a point at which leads can be monitored and evaluated by the club. Another effective way to expose your club is to run quarterly community events to help get your name out in the marketplace. This helps your club become recognized in the consumer's eyes and also helps the community by helping people.

Finally, get out in your community to establish relationships and become your club's walking billboard. There are no short cuts. Be aggressive, have fun and go for it.

External and Internal Marketing Ideas

External

Direct mailing
New mover list
Newspapers
Radio/TV commercials
Community events
Signs instead of lead boxes
Realtors — welcome kits to new residents
Costumes — prospects will take flyers when in costume
Hospitality company — maids put info on club in rooms
Receipt/bag stuffing's — video/beauty salons
Dry cleaners — logo on hangers
City Hall/city workers

Internal

Referral promos
Business card drops — attract corporate leads
Front desk handouts — informing members of upcoming promos/events
Group Fitness announcements
Fitness challenges and contests
Giveaways
Open houses

Douglas Talmage has more than 15 years of experience in the health and fitness industry and is the executive director of Hudson Athletic Club in Hoboken, NJ. Doug can be reached at 201-424-5825 or via e-mail at dramatic119@aol.com.