Karen Woodard-Chavez is president of Premium Performance Training in Boulder, CO, and Ixtapa, Mexico. She has owned and operated clubs since 1985 and now consults with and trains club staff throughout the world. She provides her services on-site, online, by phone and through her books, CDs, DVDs and manuals. She can be contacted at 303-417-0653 or karen@karenwoodard.com.

Two simple realities hold most sales people back in our industry:

1. Most of them are trained on sales techniques but are not trained well on sales techniques.

2. Most of them have little training on product knowledge or what it actually is that they are selling.

These two realities negatively affect the ability to sell to the point of “ex-selling.” Your sales staff needs to learn how to create urgency in the sales cycle, create more desire in the sales presentation, enhance their credibility, shorten their sales cycle and increase first-time closing.

Your sales reps must have a higher level of knowledge than most of the prospects with whom they speak. It does not mean that they have to be an expert in absolutely every area of the club, but it does mean that they need to be able to answer frequently asked questions with authenticity. That is hard to do if they have never experienced a particular area or program in the club. With that in mind, it makes a lot of sense to include in your training process a requirement that your sales staff uses all areas of the club.

Just like your members, your sales reps may have one or two areas of the club that they use for their workouts, but it is their job is to be able to sell the services and programs of the entire club to a prospective member. Prospects may be interested in other areas of the club that the sales rep has not participated in, so it will be difficult for reps to create any excitement, differentiation or urgency for the prospective member if they do not have personal experience in those areas.

By experiencing other areas of the club, your sales reps can learn a few things for themselves and also learn how to answer questions from prospective members.

The following seven steps will give a broader and deeper breadth of knowledge about the club to sales reps. They also will allow your reps to create more excitement and urgency and to close more sales faster. You should ask your reps to complete this exercise within the next 30 days either individually or as a team in your sales meetings.

1. Make a list of every department in the club that touches members.

2. Develop a list of questions that members/prospects might ask and for which your reps don’t have the answers.

3. Invite an expert from a department to share the 10 basic questions/issues that are important to users of that department and share how to answer or discuss those issues.

4. When the facility adds a new program, piece of equipment, etc., make sure your reps get the fact sheet and know the specs.

5. Learn the language of each department, including anatomical terms, disciplines, yoga, massage descriptions/outcomes, etc.

6. Know the differences between brands of equipment, and become familiar with programs and classes, as well as products used in the spa, for example.

7. Get to know the experts on staff, as well as what each of them offers and what makes them unique for the club.

Members and prospects will ask questions, so your reps need to have the answers. If you don’t make this a part of your formal training, then you need to encourage your reps to take on this responsibility as part of their professional development.

Here are a few examples of some basics that should be second nature to your sales reps:

1. What pieces of equipment work with which muscle groups?

2. If the club does not have a specific piece of equipment/class, what equipment/class does the club have that is a good substitute?

3. What are the specific benefits of equipment, classes and programs—not just that we have the equipment or programs but why would a member want to use them? What are the specs that make the benefits different for different needs?

4. Avoid internal or technical lingo that can be confusing to members/prospects.

5. Weight-loss basics, such as how long it will take the average person to lose weight (assuming there is a deficit in calories). For example, if a prospect wants to lose 10 pounds, your rep can create urgency and excitement for them to get started now if they want to realistically see results in five to 10 weeks.

Make sure your sales reps have the confidence to truly accept their roles. Many clubs call these positions counselors, consultants, etc., yet these individuals sometimes do not have the information they need to truly have that title. Invest in them as professionals by helping them increase their product knowledge so they can guide the members and prospects toward success.

The benefits of the additional product knowledge will provide your sales reps with a higher level of confidence and enthusiasm during the selling process and will increase sales because they will create more credibility and rapport with your prospects and members.