Selling: Quick Tips Q & A

I've been involved in the club industry for the past 20 years as a sales manager, club manager, club owner and club consultant. During that time, I've had the good fortune to meet and work with many industry leaders. And as a consultant over the last several years, I've had the opportunity to hire, train, observe and evaluate hundreds of membership salespeople.

I recently caught up with one of the best of the best, Barbara Sailer, a salesperson who came up through the ranks to become sales manager for two Gold's Gyms in Orange and Duchess County, N.Y. The purpose of our meeting? I wanted to ask her about successful selling.

Barbara has sold upwards of 7,000 new memberships over the past 14 years of her selling career - and she entered this industry without any previous sales experience. In fact, she initially worked at the front desk of a club, and was at first reluctant to give up her hourly wage mainly for commissions. Still, she be-came quite a success story, receiving IHRSA's first salesperson of the year award after only four years of sales. And since then, she doesn't appear to have lost a step.

Here's what she had to say to my questions.

Q. What attributes do you feel separate the most successful club salespeople from the rest?

A. Salespeople who do well long-term never look at selling like a job. They possess a passion for helping members, and part of their personality makeup is deriving satisfaction from helping people find a better life for themselves. Individuals who enjoy the overall environment, love working with people and are motivated to earn money always rise above the crowd. The last point - motivated to earn money - is important. I've found if someone is too comfortable with her living expenses, she will never push herself to learn all she can or go the extra mile to do what is necessary.

Q. What else?

A. Being a good listener, possessing a good work ethic and having strong organizational skills are other characteristics of the high achievers. I've found that the ability to stay organized with guest leads and member follow-ups is often underrated. It's essential to stay on top of organizing all your daily contacts, or your lead prioritization will have no value.

Q. Can you share some tips on closing sales?

A. Without the proper training, and even with it, there is a basic fear of rejection that will prevent many sales coordinators from asking for the sale. It's so much easier to let someone take the information or use a free guest pass because there is less or no rejection experienced with that approach, but obviously earning potential is quite compromised. One of the keys is to use trial closes throughout the tour process and to also use alternate choice questions to ask for the sale. "Do you want to join?" is replaced with "Did you want to take care of it on our convenient monthly plan or does our annual program work better for you?" Avoid yes or no obligating questions at all costs because you will encourage more procrastination on the part of your guest.

Q. How important are appointments?

A.

They are the lifeblood of our business, and anyone who is serious about earning a living or doing her best job for the club should always go into her day with a minimum of four to five appointments set up. There are still salespeople who will rely on the club generating the door traffic, and those staff members will generally turn over sooner than later. That's unfortunate because, if they are relying on door traffic, they haven't been trained properly, so they never got a chance to reach their full potential.

To be a top sales performer, you must decide exactly what's important and what you want to accomplish, set specific goals, and commit yourself to a high standard of excellence. Barbara's a great example of someone in this industry who was determined to make a difference for herself and those around her.


Working the Phone

No salesperson can become successful without learning how to use the telephone to set appointments. Here, Barbara Sailer, a sales manager with two Gold's Gyms, talks about the relationship between telephones and sales.

When setting up appointments over the telephone, do the exact opposite of what we get from the telemarketing companies selling credit cards, long distance phone companies, etc. They do not ask if you have a minute, they do not show a personal interest, nor do they ask any questions about you or even take a breath before reading off their obvious scripts.

Instead of acting that way when we call prospects to set up appointments, salespeople should find out what they liked about the club (if they have already taken a tour) and treat them over the phone the way they would want to be treated themselves. Salespeople should get feedback on prospects' experiences at the club (again, if the prospects took a tour) and listen closely for cues as to what the prospects might enjoy most about the club.

To be more effective on the phone, always visualize that you are talking to your member or guest as if you are with him face to face. Treat the phone as an extension of yourself and use all your verbal and nonverbal mannerisms as if he were right in front you - vary your tone of voice, facial expressions, smiling, hand and arm movements, etc. When this is done, you can create a call experience that seems more natural for both yourself and the caller, and you will find your phone results will improve. The biggest downside is I might get some funny looks from my staff at times, but they see the results I get and consequently incorporate the same techniques.