Leslie Nolen is CEO of The Radial Group, which provides wellness businesses with seminars, publications and coaching on starting and managing profitable and personally rewarding businesses. E-mail her at lnolen@radialgroup.com or visit www.radialgroup.com to subscribe to free weekly business tips tailored to wellness businesses.

Finding more members and clients can feel like learning to drive a stick shift. You’ve got the pedal to the metal, generating lots of noise and vibration, but the car just doesn’t move.

In this series, you will diagnose your sales and marketing challenges, prioritize your fix-it efforts and get pointers on getting started.

Effective sales and marketing strategies have four stages:

Stage 1: Filling the pipeline with prospects
Stage 2: Following up with prospects
Stage 3: Exploring ways your business can help prospects
Stage 4: Closing sales

It’s simple, but not always easy. In part one, you’ll analyze the effectiveness of your current sales and marketing with this self-scoring quiz. In subsequent parts of this series, you’ll learn how to strengthen each area. Give yourself one point for each “yes” answer.

Stage 1: Filling the pipeline with prospects
Has your business identified enough potential customers to meet your business goals?

1) Is your health club or fitness center less than a year old?
2) Would it take your sales team less than a day to contact every potential customer in your pipeline?
3) Have you contacted everyone in your pipeline within the last month?
4) Do you already know that the people in your pipeline can’t afford or don’t want your membership plans and other services?
5) Are fewer prospects contacting you directly than you expected and planned on?

Total “Yes” Answers/Stage 1:_____

Stage 2: Following up with prospects
Is your business effectively contacting the potential customers already in the pipeline?

1) Do you have stacks of business cards and sticky notes that you’ve never responded to?
2) Have you received leads and referrals from others that you’ve never followed up with?
3) Are there people who said “maybe” that no one’s re-contacted in 90 days?
4) Are there prospects who contacted your business that no one has followed up?
5) Do the necessary follow-up tools exist (for example, key questions and talking points, competitive comparisons, and brochures)?

Total “Yes” Answers/Stage 2:_____

Stage 3: Exploring solutions with prospects
Is your business effectively moving prospects out of the follow-up stage and into a discussion of their needs and how your business can help them?

1) Do follow-ups with prospects consistently fall into the “maybe later” category on your daily to-do list?
2) Is it hard to get prospects to spend time talking with you or your sales team about how you could help them?
3) Do most prospects seem to think that your memberships and other services are too expensive?
4) Do most prospects seem to think that your health club or fitness center is somehow not quite right for them?
5) Do you do more than 50 percent of the talking when you meet with prospects?

Total “Yes” Answers/Stage 3:_____

Stage 4: Closing the sale
Is your business successfully moving prospects out of the exploring-solutions stage and into closing the sale?

1) Do prospects usually say that they’re already a member of a health club or fitness center elsewhere?
2) Do prospects usually tell you that they’re not ready to buy right now?
3) Do prospects often say that they need to check with someone before they decide?
4) Do potential customers in this stage defer a decision and then stop responding to follow-up attempts?
5) Do you have butterflies when you think about discussing pricing with prospects?

Total “Yes” Answers/Stage 4:_____

Scoring guide
Summarize your answers below. Circle the stage with the highest score. That’s the stage that offers the fastest opportunity for improvement. Prioritize working on this stage first.

If two or more stages have equally high scores, focus on the stage that comes first in the sales cycle. For example, if filling the pipeline and following up both have high scores, start with filling the pipeline so that you address the root cause. Avoid the temptation to tackle multiple stages simultaneously. If every stage presents a challenge, start by filling your pipeline.

Summary of Score

_____ Stage 1: Filling the pipeline

_____ Stage 2: Following up with prospects

_____ Stage 3: Exploring solutions with prospects

_____ Stage 4: Closing the sale

Next month, in Part 2, we’ll explore tactics to help your business fill its pipeline with prospects. Part 3 will help you stay on top of your follow-up process, and Part 4 will help you find the best fit between your business and your prospects’ needs so that you can close the sale.