Closing More Sales by Asking the Right Questions

By Sonia Ricotti
July 10, 2006

Sonia Ricotti is a consultant and the president of Club Training Forum. She trains staff in health clubs throughout the world focusing on sales, leadership, member retention, and customer service. She offers her services on site, over the phone, and online through her training products. She has more than a decade of management and sales experience and has worked with health clubs throughout North America, winning many leadership awards throughout the years. Sonia can be reached via e-mail at sonia@clubtrainingforum.com or by phone at (416) 804-1974.

One of the most important questions to ask during the sales process is “why is that so important to you?”

Many sales representatives today are so focused on selling a club’s features, believing that the club and its unique features will sell itself. The truth is, no matter how beautiful your club is, no matter how great your club’s programs are, or how great your promotions are, people usually do not buy based on these reasons. If they did, wouldn’t every prospect entering your club be joining on the spot?

In my experience, the tour of the club is actually the least important aspect of the sales process. The most important part of the sales process (other than asking for the sale), is finding out what is driving your prospect to get on a fitness program (the driving want). I am not referring to the usual fitness goals people have like losing weight, toning up, gaining muscle mass, or even de-stressing themselves. These are important to know, but you must probe further and find out why this is so important to them. This driving want is what will drive them to take action and get on a fitness program. While a fitness goal is logical (i.e. I gained 20 pounds so I need to lose 20 pounds), a driving want is emotional (I need to lose 20 pounds because I want to look and feel great on my wedding day). Once you know their true driving want and have triggered an emotional response, only then can you cater the sales process to the prospect.

The Important Questions. After you have greeted the member, take them to a quiet area of the club and explain to them that you would like to discuss their fitness goals and discover what areas of the club they are interested in. Although there is a long laundry list of questions that could be asked to find out as much as possible about the prospect, the four most important questions to ask to find out the true driving want of a prospect are:

1. “What brought you into the club today?”

2. “What are your fitness goals?”

3. “Why is that so important to you?”

4. It is also important to get them to verbalize how achieving those goals will change their lives by asking the question:

“Once you achieve those goals, how do you think you will feel and how will it affect your life?”

By verbalizing how they will feel and how it will change their lives, the prospect will mentally visualize what their life will look like once they achieve all their fitness goals. This will trigger an emotional response, which will motivate and drive them to take action and join your health club.

The Important Statement. Once that emotional response has been triggered, then you should take the prospect on a tour of your club. Before you go on the tour, however, it is crucial that you make an important statement:

“I will take you for a tour of the club and show you the areas that are of interest to you. When we finish the tour, I will review all the different membership options and then you can decide whether you would like to join today.”

This statement sets the expectations in advance. It is telling her that you are going to be asking her to join today. This psychologically prepares the prospect in advance and gives her lots of time throughout the tour to decide if she would like to become a member or not.

The Tour. Once on the tour, you must constantly remind the prospect how the club’s features will get them to achieve their fitness goals and their driving want. For instance the conversation would sound something like this:

“Mary, you mentioned that one of your goals is to lose 20 pounds. This state of the art elliptical trainer will help you burn calories and lose body fat; so when your wedding day arrives in September, you will look and feel fabulous!”

This statement ties in both her fitness goals (lose 20 pounds) and her driving want (look and feel great on her wedding day) with the club's features. Do this several times throughout the tour. By the time you finish the tour, the prospect will be excited and emotionally charged about achieving her goals and how it will positively affect her life. She will be driven to take action and join.

By asking those simple but important questions, triggering emotional responses, and catering each tour to each individual’s driving want, you will dramatically increase your closing percentage and take the sales process to a new level of success.