Sales success is not a happy accident in the fitness industry, and January is the month where we make or break our fiscal year. Even though we are more than a week into the month, you can still ensure that your fitness business is ready to win the month by leaning into these three strategies to attract, engage and recruit more members than ever in 2023.
The Successful Promotion Test
Most sales campaigns fail catastrophically because they typically do not meet one of the following three criteria:
- Of obvious value
- Of tremendous value
- Infrequently offered
If your prospective members are conditioned by your frequent marketing campaigns that trumpet no registration fee when you join this month, then you likely have already lost. During this time of year, today’s hyper-aware consumer considers that call to action to be “expected value.” Everyone is waiving registration fees right now. We can better win their business by messaging “unexpected value.” Something along the lines of, “Our best sale of the year! When you join between now and Jan. X, enjoy no payments until Feb. 1, no registration fee AND get $50 in program credits toward our incredible services like personal training, massage, etc.”
Market to Your Unique Value Propositions, Experiences and/or Solutions
Fun fact: When a prospective member receives your marketing and it looks something like, “Get your six pack this year at Joe’s Gym,” this doesn’t actually move them to call your gym. However, it does get the tire kickers off the sidelines to create a short list of local options where they could possibly get their six pack for the best deal.
Bonus fun fact: When a prospective member cannot delineate the difference in value between getting a six pack at your gym and a high-volume, low-price club, the lower price club wins every time.
If you are not the lowest priced club in your area, then you must market to your unique solutions. IHRSA recently said that 41 percent of all members pay less than $25 per month. That tells me that we need to do a better job of marketing to our expertise. Consumers may perceive memberships to be expensive, but the solutions your prospective members are looking for are invaluable. Do you have the only outdoor pool in town? Does one of your trainers specialize in throwing mechanics and performance? Do you have the highest winning high school basketball coach teaching your academy? Win the day by ringing those bells.
Consistency in Sales Process Delivery is Key
If you are not measuring it and monitoring it, you cannot manage it. Drill best sales practices into your team each day. A solid need analysis is still king when selling memberships, so ensure your membership sales team is delivering a top-notch performance by providing them a script and roadmap to success.
Did you know there are only seven possible reply categories to the question, “Are you ready to get started today?” Train your team to be prepared to address the following responses:
1. Acceptance. They trust you, your company and your solution and are ready to sign up. Congratulations.
Insight: All value is perceived value. So if the prospect has elected to sign-up today, obviously the opportunity outweighs the risk.
2. Rejection. This happens if someone outright has no interest in you or your solution. These people have no issue with just ending the conversation and walking away. They even may reply angrily or with offensive, telling you exactly what they think of you or your solution.
Insight: Almost exclusively, rejection happens on cold calls or when you try and stop people in their tracks and force them to acknowledge your presence. This single fear — rejection — is what holds back most salespeople. However, this is an irrational fear because the vast majority of salespeople are not pitching our services cold. Therefore, the actual rejection that you fear rarely happens.
3. Objection. A statement that demonstrates the prospect is interested, at least generally, in what you have to offer, but there is at least one or more concerns holding them back from committing today.
Insight: This can be overcome by the salesperson at point of sale. Scripted responses here are crucial to your success. In almost any given scenario in fitness sales, there are only five objections you will encounter: time, competition, commitment, spouse and money. Develop your rebuttals, and you will achieve a much higher level of success.
4. Negotiation. The prospective member is interested in your service or solution and is telling you they will enroll today if you can give in on something from your initial offer. Maybe they are seeking a reduction in fees, free add-ons, additional free periods, etc.
Insight: This can be overcome by not leading with your lowest-priced option. Leave something that you can offer the prospective member if they seek to negotiate. We can’t always waive or lower fees, but we might be able to rebut with, “I cannot knock $50 off the enrollment fee, but I can give you a $50 gift card toward our personal training services. How does that sound?”
5. Question. Prospect is still interested in your service or solution, but are not yet sure this is the right solution for them or that a competitor may offer a superior service or solution.
Insight: The fact that they are asking questions shows they are still engaged in the process. Questions mean they have not collected enough information to make an informed decision. Once you answer said question, you will generally be met with one of the other five replies.
6. Condition. The prospect is stating they are interested in your service or solution, but only if you can deliver on a stated demand or need. An example would be a member seeking a saltwater pool for a skin condition.
Insight: Conditions are usually demand statements that you can either meet or cannot meet. Ethical selling comes into play here, as well. If someone says to you, “I will join if we can meet every Sunday for the next year,” and you reply with, “We will try and figure it out,” you are potentially misleading them.
TIP: Questions and negotiations can often be misinterpreted as conditions. Make sure you ask follow-up questions to dig just a little deeper.
7. Stall. This is a tactic that a prospect uses to create additional time and delay decision making at the point of sale. A stall is always a cover for one of the other five responses. The most common delay you will receive is, “I need to think about it.”
Insight: Usually, a stall is a mask for either a condition or an objection. It is best addressed by asking, “If you do not mind me asking, this seems like a great solution for what you were looking for. Is there something I didn’t answer that makes you feel like this is not the right solution or service?”
Again, success isn’t a happy accident. You need to prepare in order to succeed. Leverage the tips above to have your best January ever.
Jason Stowell is a professional consultant for JCCs North America. He has sold over 18,000 fitness agreements in his career making him one of the highest producers in the industry today. With more than 26 years of experience, Stowell now provides professional development, strategic programming, talent management and expert-level sales training to commercial clubs and non-profits. He also offers his sales knowledge as the host of the Fitness Business Podcast: Industry Trends show, at conferences, in blogs, and at his workshops where he delivers his Empowered Sales Systems program to fitness professionals around the world.