Some lead generation programs lack a strategic member referral system that accurately captures prospects’ information. However, software companies are developing systems that can add more structure to the process, automatically follow up with leads and monetize social media to generate more referrals.

One of those programs is Share Your Fit, which was created by Pick A Gym co-founder and CEO Jake Soll and cofounder and COO Aaron Grove. The referral system from the Des Moines, IA-based company capitalizes on social media to generate leads.

“The sales process has changed considerably over the past few years,” Soll says. “A few years ago, you could ask for referrals just on a piece of paper and anyone would give out their friends’ names and numbers. But the times have changed considerably, and people don’t want to sell out their friends.”

With Share Your Fit, health club members can send free passes to friends using email, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. The system tracks the entire process so that the club can follow up with new leads and reward the members and sales staff that generate them.

“We wanted it to be more than just sending out a free pass, so everything is tied back into Pick a Gym with video tours, testimonials and all the information about the club,” Grove says. “This way, the people who are receiving the passes can learn about the gym and decide if it is someplace they would like to try.”

By placing lead generation in the members’ hands and automatically following up with leads, Grove says the system helps take the burden off the sales staff and does the work for them.

LEAD GENERATION SOFTWARE ADDRESSES MANY FACTORS

“It also takes the work away from the members and makes it a lot easier for people to participate,” Grove adds.

Since its inception in January, Share Your Fit generates an average of 50 leads a month in each of the 19 health clubs using its system. But just generating leads is not enough, says iDesk Solutions CEO Drew Chesler.

“One must have a high quality of lead, for starters,” Chesler says. “A health club or an entire brand of health clubs needs to understand how lead generation must be seamlessly connected to lead capture, which needs seamless integration with drip marketing and then moves in real time to sales ownership of the lead itself and all at the very same moment in time. One without the other is a damaged model.”

With iDesk Solutions, members use a computer at a kiosk to type in leads, and guests type in their own information, which allows a club owner to forego paper and to collect more accurate data. With better prospect information, club owners can better narrow their club’s marketing efforts to a more defined geographic reach.

“The key to lead generation in the digital age is understanding your specific club’s demographics and geographic reach boundaries,” Chesler says. “It’s also important to drill down to the radius of influence and pay only for the influence on that local marketplace for a defined return on investment.”

David Gandell, who has spent 18 years in the fitness industry as a general manager, consultant and personal trainer, found the system’s automated follow-up would not allow any prospect to fall through the cracks.

“Not only would the lead be emailed with location and details that the person filled out, but it can be identified by the consultant and sales manager as a good lead,” Gandell says. “The email campaign, calls from consultants and mailing materials all will become part of the closing process because the information collected on the system is better information and gives access to more ways the potential client [can] be reached.”

However, Sean Kirby, national sales director for ASF International, Highlands Ranch, CO, says too little personal interaction during the sales process can be detrimental.

“We aren’t completely putting lead generation into the members’ hands,” Kirby says about ASF’s lead generation system. “The tools are for the sales people to engage [members]. The software is a tool to communicate with the member but does not have the ability to make the sale.”

ASF International has developed a word-of-mouth referral system in which members give friends gym passes that contain barcodes that can be scanned, recording the prospect’s information. The automated tracking process shows how many passes were sent, redeemed and closed as a sale.

Mark Hutts, vice president of sales and marketing at Fiserv Club Solutions, Brookfield, WI, says that even though his company offers lead generation as one piece of its broader club management program, the sale ultimately must be closed by the club’s sales staff.

“The tools are there for clubs that want to execute lead generation programs. Whether or not a club uses them is up to them,” Hutts says. “Not all clubs utilize the capabilities to the extent available and could be getting more benefit from marketing and lead generation initiatives.”

That was the problem that Mardi Pfannebecker, co-owner of Goals In Motion Fitness Studio, Des Moines, IA, faced before purchasing the Share Your Fit system.

“We really didn’t have much of a system in place,” Pfannebecker says. “Our members knew that if they referred someone and that person signed up, they would receive a prize. But everything was manual, and the tracking system was not as accurate as it should have been.”

As one of the first clubs to use the Share Your Fit system, Pfannebecker saw her members get more involved in referring friends because of the system. The club generated more than 100 leads in the first month using the system, which made the investment in the program worth it for Pfannebecker.