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.

In Part 1, Troubleshooting the Sales Cycle in Your Wellness Business: Part 1 we identified the four key stages of effective sales and marketing strategies:

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

You analyzed your current sales and marketing efforts with a self-scoring quiz that prioritized the stage requiring urgent attention.

In Part 2, Troubleshooting The Sales Cycle In Your Wellness Business: Part 2 you learned how to fill your pipeline with potential customers. We then explored ways to follow up with potential customers in your pipeline in Part 3 Troubleshooting The Sales Cycle In Your Wellness Business: Part 3.

In Part 4, you’ll learn how to find the best fit between your services and your prospects’ needs and close the sale.

Stage 3: Exploring Solutions with Prospects
The goal of following up with prospects is to move them into a discussion of their needs and explore how your business can help them. If your sales process stalls as prospects move into this stage, consider these possible causes:

1. Do you have the right products and services?
Compare your membership options, personal training services, and other products and services to the needs of your potential customers. Consider whether you’ve got the right mix of services for the prospects you’ve actually got. Don’t let your personal fitness philosophy get in the way of responding to what your customers want. You may also need to add ancillary services such as childcare or amenities such as extended hours to attract more members.

2. Do you offer too many choices?
Some health clubs and fitness centers offer too many membership options and personal training packages. Keep it simple. Focus on the elements that matter most to your specific clientele. Provide a comparison sheet that points out the differences among the choices to help prospects make a decision.

3. Are you really selling to qualified prospects?
A qualified prospect is someone who’s ready to take action when they find a health club or fitness center that meets all of their needs. Their needs include suitable services for their specific situation, acceptable price, and acceptable terms and conditions such as hours of service and a 30-day refund policy.

Questions that explore prospects’ readiness to change indicate whether or not they’re a qualified prospect. Questions that explore whether they’re prepared to invest time and money in their personal health are also useful. Questions that ask the prospect to think out loud about how they would use their membership help reveal unrealistic or erroneous expectations.

4. Are your marketing materials and talking points effective?
Marketing collateral that compares your service options can be helpful. If your prospects often consider other health clubs, provide an objective competitive comparison that highlights the differences among the choices. Case studies of successful members help prospects picture how your business could help them, too.

Stage 4: Closing the Sale
The purpose of Step 4 is to agree with prospects on how your business can help them and complete the sale. If your sales process comes to a crashing halt when it’s time to close the sale, consider these potential “gotchas”:

1. Are closing sales a priority?
When everyone’s responsible for making sales, no one’s responsible. Assign clear responsibility for sales activities within your organization. Who’s responsible for closing sales with prospects? What timeline should these conversations follow?

2. Are you avoiding the discussion?
Managers and staff who avoid trying to close sales are usually reluctant because they’re not sure how to respond to common concerns from the prospect.Most prospects raise the same concerns during the sales process. Rather than being caught by surprise, jot down the typical concerns, and decide how you’ll respond with the two or three key points that would relieve their anxiety or reluctance. Train your sales team on the best way to respond.

Testimonials from happy members, references from current and prior clients, and satisfaction guarantees can also reduce buyer anxiety. That’s especially important for newer businesses or those with low visibility in the community.

3. Does your team have strong sales communication skills?
The key to successful sales is communication—both listening and talking. After all, winning a new member requires connecting the dots between what they need and want, and the ability of your business to help them get there. The best salespeople are passionate and committed to their business—and highly empathetic about what matters to prospects. If your team lacks confidence in its ability to close sales or relies on canned scripts, consider investing in communications training. The payback is almost instantaneous.

With these tools, finding the best fit between your services and your prospects’ needs and closing the sale will become an easy and natural progression in your relationship with your prospects.