Pat Rigsby is the co-owner of several businesses in the fitness industry, including the Fitness Consulting Group. He also serves as an industry consultant focusing on the development of profitable personal training departments. To learn how you can improve your club’s retention, referrals and profitability, sign up for Rigsby’s free newsletter and get his three free business building reports at www.fitnessmarketingmachine.com. Rigsby can be reached at pat@fitnessconsultingroup.com.

When I was a child, I remember my mother telling me that I had two ears and two eyes but only one mouth because I should listen and watch twice as much as I should talk. Who would have guessed that this simple advice (probably given in the hopes of getting me to quiet down) would be one of the most important sales tips I’d ever hear?

Sometimes you can read so many sales books on the art of closing sales and overcoming objections that it becomes a battle of wills, where the ultimate goal of the salesperson is to force his or her opponents (the prospects) into a corner in which they have no other option but to join the club or run out the doors screaming that they felt too pressured and needed more time to think about it.

As opposed to what some may think, selling memberships successfully is not renting access to your club’s equipment. It’s not willing a battle with prospects and convincing them to buy. Selling should not be a transaction where someone wins and someone loses. Selling memberships to your club should be based around becoming the prospects’ trusted advisor and solving their problems. Selling a membership to a prospect should be a win for both you and the prospect.

The only way to solve your prospects’ problems and become their trusted advisor is to ask questions. Helping prospects isn’t about forcing them to do something they didn’t really want to do. It is all about helping them to get what they really want. If you begin a relationship with your prospects by finding out what they really want and what their problems are, you can then tailor the rest of their visit to your club specifically to how your facility and your staff can provide the solutions they are looking for and allow them to get exactly what they want.

If prospective members want to lose weight, you can show them how they can use your clubs’ resources to do that. You can show prospects testimonials from members who have successfully lost weight. You can talk to them about how they’ll meet with one of your certified fitness professionals to design a weight-loss plan specifically for them. Don’t you think this would be a more effective way to spend your time than giving them a random tour and showing them the basketball court that they’ll never use?

Stop working so hard at closing your prospects and start listening to them. Prospects will provide you with all of the information you need to create a win-win situation. Not only will this lead to more closed sales, but it will also lead to happier members who stay longer and refer often.