The more appointments your sales staff can set with prospects, the more prospects they can turn into members, which is good for your fitness facility’s bottom line. Two good ways to get those appointments set are through telephone inquiries and Internet leads.

When you mail out promotional pieces offering discounts on your pricing, the number of calls your club receives from prospects will increase. However, underperforming salespeople simply relay information about the price on these calls rather than making the conversation about the caller and building a relationship. Handling calls this way typically translates into no appointment.

However, good salespeople see the opportunity these calls present. They make that connection with the callers by acknowledging often what the prospects have requested or shared. Well-trained salespeople make additional acknowledgements throughout the conversation. If the prospect asks about joining fees and dues, the salesperson should respond with, “OK. It sounds like the monthly dues and terms are important for you. What two other elements are you considering as you think about becoming a member at our club?” By asking this, your salespeople make the conversation about the prospects, not the price.

To focus the conversation more onto the prospects, your salespeople should ask about the type of membership they will need (single or family), interests, motivation and time of day they will be exercising. This information allows your staff to be specific when inviting prospects to the club at a convenient time. The invitation may sound like this: “It sounds like you are interested in using our running track and taking some classes specifically for weight loss. We would be happy to help you with your weight-loss program.”

The next step is to make the invitation: “I would like to invite you in as my guest, which means there is no guest fee, so you can get a feel for our facility, enjoy a class and meet one of the coaches who would be assisting you in your success. Based on the times you said you generally exercise, we could do tomorrow at noon or this afternoon at 4:30.”

Even with such a smooth invitation, prospects may offer objections, asking that your salespeople leave a guest pass for them instead. Your staff should never leave a guest pass because doing so causes them to lose their influence and lengthens the sales cycle. Instead, your staff should define for the caller the difference between a guest pass and being their guest by saying, “You may drop by as a nonmember, but there is a $25 daily guest pass fee for nonmembers. If you are scheduled as my guest, there is no fee. Which would you prefer to do?”

Handling Internet leads properly also can help increase appointment numbers. Instead of just requiring people to offer their names and contact information on your website for complimentary access to your club, require them to complete data fields that capture information about their interests. Requiring the following fields to be completed will increase the chance of your staff creating appointments: name, email address, phone number, club activities that interest the prospect and the time of day they would like to enjoy those activities.

Once you get these online requests, ensure someone on your staff responds immediately. Businesses that respond within two minutes to an online request increase the likelihood of a customer response by 80 percent, according to a Harvard Business Review article.

Your website should spell out that access to your facility will be issued only after someone from the club has spoken to the prospect to arrange classes/services or programs. Do not allow prospects to print guest passes from your website. Your staff should respond to requests for passes by asking prospects about the classes and activities they expressed interest in on the online form.

By gathering plenty of information, your sales staff will get to know the prospects better, which will help them set more appointments and increase your club’s membership numbers.

BIO

Karen Woodard-Chavez is president of Premium Performance Training in Boulder, CO, and Ixtapa, Guerrero, Mexico. She has owned and operated clubs since 1985 and now consults with and trains club staff throughout the world.