The 'Up Front' Sales Presentation

One of the most comforting things you can do for your prospective members is to be "up front" with them about the process of selling club memberships. You should also be up front about the fact that it is our job (in the health and fitness industry) to ask people to join the club. Try this approach before taking a person on a tour of the club:

"Now [prospect's name], as I point out the highlights of our 45,000-square-foot facility, I will rely on you to let me know if you require additional information on any area. I will be happy to introduce you to any of our personal trainers or other staff, as they may be able to answer any specific questions you have. I will also be giving you the rate information, and at some point in the process, we will be asking you to join the club. I tell you that so you don't feel any pressure whatsoever and that you know it is part of our job to help people to get going in the direction of reaching their fitness goals."

Since you are being honest with the prospect, you should encourage the prospect to open up and be honest as well. It is widely accepted that finding out the NEEDS is the most important part of the selling process. The prospect's needs are what will give the rep a foundation, a point on which to focus the presentation. So why not start with the needs immediately? Today's buyer can handle a more direct approach and even prefers it. Try asking one of these questions:

- "May I ask, what is your No. 1 reason for coming to our health club today?"

- "I'd like to ask you, what is the No. 1 thing you would like to accomplish by joining our club?"

- "What are you hoping to achieve here?"

Once you know the prospect's needs (see Needs vs. Interests), you can bring them up during the tour, pointing out services and areas that will help the prospect accomplish his goals. You can also refer back to these goals when closing the sale.

When closing, continue to be up front. Don't fall back on old closing techniques. Suppose, for example, the prospect said his need for joining the club was to lose weight. You wouldn't want to close the sale by saying, "If I could show you a way to lose the weight you wanted, would you be willing to join today?"

Replace these old closing techniques with a more direct approach. Address any doubts and resistance the prospect raises by using a consultative and advisor approach instead of the usual defensive approach to objections. And be prepared to deal with the unrealistic goals (e.g., working out every day) most prospects have. (See Closing Dialogue for an example.)

The key to selling today is to be yourself and to be up front. Talk to the person like you would a friend who wants to start a program and has come to you for advice.


Needs vs. Interests

When finding out why the prospect has come to your club, be careful not to introduce the concept of "interests" when you want to be focused on "needs."

You are looking for the prospect's primary motivator for bringing him to the club. If the focus is on "equipment and stuff," the sale has no foundation. Every club has equipment. If, however, you focus on a need like weight loss or some other result, the prospect won't be able to compare your club so easily to the competition.


Closing Dialogue

When closing sales, talk to the perspective members as if they were good friends/relatives, not as potential sales. Be direct and erase any questions/doubts by using a consultative/advisor approach, and don't get defensive. The following dialogue is a good example.

"So [prospect's name], you are worried about getting to the club enough to justify the cost? Well, that is a good concern. There is certainly no reason for you to feel pressure from us to make your decision today. I can tell you a few things from experience that might make this whole process easier for you.

"First and foremost, we offer an unconditional money-back guarantee for the first 21 days of your membership. Now, this won't tell you what you want to know about your workout habits six months from now, but nobody can tell you that. It would at least give you a chance to make it happen without any risk.

"Secondly, you might consider backing off of your goal of working out five times a week; wait 90 days or so. You may feel fantastic and much more successful if your goal was more like coming to the club two times a week. You can work up to the five after the 90 days. Does that sound a little more doable?"