Health clubs everywhere are getting misled by the possibilities of the Internet. Most are rushing to buy a Web site. They then install a sign-up membership form online and expect to have people swarming to join.

As you already know, people procrastinate when it comes to purchasing a fitness membership. An online membership form - regardless of how informative, heavily marketed, motivating or pretty - will not entice someone to join your fitness center.

The only way people get sold is through feeling, touching, seeing and hearing the benefits of your facility. People can't do all of that through your Web site.

Under certain circumstances, a Web site can actually decrease membership sales. Specifically, a club that gives the price on its Web site will dampen interest and drastically reduce the chances of selling the prospect.

Once prospects find the price online, they have no reason to inquire further, so they continue to procrastinate. They've eased their conscience by getting the price. In their minds, they have satisfied their interest. They may intend on joining some day, but most never commit.

In order to sell memberships effectively using your Web site, you must not try to "sell prospects" online. Instead, your online efforts must be to start the selling process.

The Web site begins the selling process perfectly. It allows multiple amounts of prospects to investigate your facility privately without the hassles, embarrassments and pressures of visiting. It allows you to give your prospects an idea of the type of club you have. Most important, it allows you to start the selling process by getting their e-mail addresses.

Getting e-mail addresses should be the No. 1 goal of your Web site! Once you get prospects' e-mail addresses, you can take the next step of the selling process: Get them in front of you!

Once you get prospects in front of you, you can get them involved by giving them your sales presentation. Once they understand the benefits of a membership at your club and hear your presentation, then you can close the deal.

Your Web site has the incredible potential to start this process. However, you must have the capabilities to get prospects' e-mail addresses and follow up relentlessly through e-mail to inspire them to visit your facility.

If your Web site could do this process automatically, without lifting a finger, it would be a selling machine. Imagine, having a salesperson who can: collect hundreds of e-mail addresses; follow up every day with a personal letter to each person who e-mails your club; answer all e-mailed questions; explain all your services and features (sell you perfectly!); not get tired of rejection; work seven days a week, 24 hours a day; and require no salary or commission.

A Web site can do this, making it more productive than any top salesperson in your organization and increasing your profits immensely. Interested? Good. If you implement the following steps, you can set up and profit from this type of e-mail strategy:

1. Capture e-mail addresses on your Web site. Entice the prospect to request something special (a free pass). Tell your Web master to set up an online form that captures the name and e-mail of the prospect.

2. Receive the e-mail. Have your Web master route the form result to your e-mail box. Once you receive the e-mail, respond to the prospect. Don't just send him what he requested! Your goal is to get him in front of you, not give away stuff.

3. Follow up. Reply to the prospect's e-mail. Tell him to respond with his telephone number and the best time for you to call. Tell him to visit your club by a certain date to receive what he requested.

This is where the automated e-mail systems can work perfectly. Get a system that allows you to program the timing and frequency of outgoing e-mails. This way you do zero work. Send 10 to 15 e-mails to the prospect over a 90-day period. Most systems are expensive, so you may want to start out with a simple e-mail autoresponder. If you can't do an e-mail system at this time, respond manually. Keep track of the prospect using a contact management system and follow up as prescribed above.

4. Be relentless. Remember, you're dealing with procrastinating, justifying, rationalizing, "I'll get in shape some day for sure" type of prospects! Don't give up.

E-mail removes the element of embarrassment, pride, feeling exposed, being rejected, tact and time. Sending 10 to 15 e-mails won't annoy people. Most won't even open three to five of the e-mails sent. But if they feel even the slightest interest, one of your e-mails will get their attention and make them act.

Get going and make the Internet work for you. Follow these steps and add a significant amount of prospect leads and sales to your weekly results.


Five Vital Steps to Web-Site Design

1. Have readable print.

2. Be color coordinated.

3. Stick to your business theme.

4. Don't give people a way out.

5. Make it easy for your visitors to navigate.


How to Use Your Web Site To Close Difficult Prospects

1. Have testimonials on your Web site.

2. Compare your fitness center with the competition.

3. Have a page that lists typical objections.

4. Have a "value" page. (This page should list all the features that are included with a membership purchase.)