Creating a more gracious, professional and high-performance sales staff can help you maximize sales production faster and minimize sales staff failure rates. That's why I recommend The Fool Proof 4 training method. Due to space constraints, I will elaborate only on the first three elements of this method.

Week one of the two-week program is the staff launch on operational aspects of the club. The staff launch starts with pre-training, which involves familiarizing new hires with club materials and testing them on the materials.

The program then moves into an independent, self-paced orientation that must be completed within seven days. The staff launch involves meeting with the general manager to understand the vision, mission and core values of the club and meeting with every department head to understand the benefits each department contributes to the club and the member.

All new hires get an operational tour of the facility so that they understand what is in every space. They also receive a spa service, get a personal training and a fitness orientation session, participate in 10 different club classes and participate in any other services that the club offers. They are then tested on these elements.

On the first day of the second week, staff members start the sales training, which involves listening skills training; goal setting; time management; daily, weekly and monthly prioritization; lead generation training on referral tools; alumni member promotions; group sales tools; community outreach; and current lead wrap-up, which results in a 90-day lead generation plan with each of the aforementioned elements occurring monthly.

The next day, they learn about business skills, which includes member demographics, market demographics, target market, points of differentiation, corporate presentations, a snapshot of the local economy, key groups/businesses with whom you want to grow your business, business leaders in the community, differences between B-to-B selling versus B-to-C selling, business etiquette and business terminology. They also learn how to prepare for business events outside of the club and the decision makers they should speak with at other businesses. The day also involves teaching phone skills, including how to handle incoming calls and follow-up calls and how to leave messages. They also must call competitors after the phone skills training to see what they do well and do not do well. The day includes 10 role play phone calls and 10 shadowed calls.

On day three, the new hires learn about face-to-face sales training, including the pre-tour elements to understand what makes a prospect say yes or no, where and how to do the pre-tour and how the service desk plays a part in the success of the sale. It also includes how to give the tour, use all of the pre-tour elements to create desire and urgency, do trial closes, handle objections, sell non-dues revenue and close. The post-tour training teaches how to do the membership paperwork, the new member guest privilege, the non-dues revenue sale and follow-up for those who do and do not join.

On day four, the staff participates in 10 role play tours of all elements mentioned with written and oral evaluation.

On the last day, new hires go through two more role-play tours, visit the competition (completing an analysis form for each competitor) and wrap up with the sales manager.

Spending more time training staff early in the process (and providing continuing training) provides them with the skills to be successful. The return on your investment will yield more gracious, professional, high-performing salespeople.

Karen Woodard-Chavez is president of Premium Performance Training, Boulder, CO, and Ixtapa, Mexico. Woodard consults and trains clubs throughout the world. She can be reached at 303-417-0653 or at karen@karenwoodard.com.