Curtis Mock is the President of Vitality Marketing Group, a consulting and campaign company for the health club industry. He has managed, owned, and consulted facilities of all sizes throughout the United States for more than 12 years. He is assisted by a team of eight consultants who work specifically with independently owned gyms and health clubs nationwide. Curtis is also the primary contributor to VMG’s Gym Goldmine resource, which boasts more than 3,000 subscribed health club owners. Visit VMG at www.HealthClubSuccess.com or reach Mock directly at cmock@GymMarketing.com.

You know the routine. A guest visits your club, you go through the small talk, show them the facility, talk about the amenities and answer a few questions. But then reality sets in as you make the slow journey back to the area where you will present membership options. What if they have an objection? What if they say no? Why am I so nervous?

You no longer have to fear this stage of the sales process. Wouldn’t it be nice if nearly every time you walk back from the tour, your prospect says, “I can’t wait! Sign me up!” It does happen sometimes, but you can make sure it happens more often by implementing the following five strategies:

1. Don’t be a salesperson. Health club guests—and consumers in general—are tired of salespeople. They are much more inspired by a person who genuinely cares about their health and well-being, not someone with cheesy canned responses and an aggressive closing style. The first rule of closing more membership sales is to genuinely listen to your guest. You have two ears and one mouth for a reason. It is amazing how much people love talking about themselves. Your guest will love you if you simply listen to them and stop trying to sell to them.

2. Make sure you take the time to pre-qualify everyone. It seems like such a hassle to take the time to go through a pre-qualification form with a guest, but do not skip this stage of the process. Sit down with your guest and go through your list of questions, write down their responses, and take time to understand their goals and needs. Doing this before the tour allows you to be able to ask even deeper questions, enabling you to build a more meaningful relationship with the guest much more quickly than if you had not pre-qualified them. This also allows you to understand any concerns they might have and to overcome any objections long before prices are presented.

3. Each tour should be different for each guest. It is easy to get into a routine of taking every guest to the exact same areas of your facility in the exact same order you have shown every other prospect. However, no two tours should be alike. The No. 1 rule of a customized tour is to begin in the area of the club that the guest has expressed the most interest in. If someone mentions that they will mostly be participating in the group exercise classes, don’t show them the free weight and cardio areas first. Take them directly to the group fitness room. If you show your guests the areas they really want to see first, they will be more open to learning about the rest of the facility. Keep the tour entertaining, and keep your guest talking throughout the tour.

4. Make assumptive statements throughout the tour. Assumptive statements are statements that cause the prospect to feel as if they are already a member. For example, “The next time you come in, this is where you’ll scan your membership card for access into the facility,” or “How many days will you be coming in to work out?” or “Is someone joining with you?” All of these are assumptive and allow the prospect to feel as if they are already a member. Remember to always replace the word “if” with the word “when” to help them begin feeling that the decision has already been made.

5. Have your guest make mini-commitments throughout the tour. This simply means getting them to say “yes” or to agree with you as many times as possible. Throughout the tour, ask questions such as, “I can really tell you’re determined to make these changes, aren’t you?” or “Isn’t the club beautiful?” or “It feels good to know you’re about to make some big changes, doesn’t it?” Ask a variety of questions, but make sure the question causes the guest to respond positively. This will help reinforce in their mind how important it is to get started. Telling someone they need to improve their health or that they need to join today is not as powerful as getting them to admit it themselves.

By following these five strategies, you should be able to close membership sales more easily. More importantly, you will notice that there is not as much pressure put on the price presentation because you have already overcome objections and motivated them to decide that they need a membership. Implement these strategies into your sales process, and you should immediately see an increase in your closing percentage.