#005: How to Use the Prescriptive Sales Method at Your Gym

#005: How to Use the Prescriptive Sales Method at Your Gym

Recorded live on The Network, Friday, December 1st, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. PST

This week, Markus is talking about one of his favorite subjects: Sales. 

Audio Version


We come back to this area of development for gym owners so frequently, because we know so many gym owners hate it. Sales is not why you opened a gym. You wanted to help people live healthy lives, and sales feels like the gross thing you have to do to keep the doors open. We get it. We’re here to reassure you that when you approach it right, it’s not gross. It is, in fact, part of your force for good in the universe.

In this episode, Markus breaks down the Gymwright Prescriptive Consult Method, and he breaks down the fears owners have about sales. A solid, well-planned consult not only increases conversions, but it increases retention.

Table of Contents

The process Markus outlines in this episode is a one-on-one intro model that’s been refined on literally tens of thousands of onboardings. It may take some practice for you to feel cozy with it, but this pathway to success has already been paved for your convenience and sanity.

Why one-on-one sessions instead of a group sell? Because it’s the best way to make a sale and accurately frame up perceived value. Plus, it helps with retention.

If you’re not yet able to use this method from a staffing or scheduling perspective, you can still apply the principles to the variation that works for your business.

2:03 Why should a gym owner care about getting the consult right?

This one’s easy: No sales equals no business.

“If you have issues with sales, or you still think sales is an ugly thing or a necessary evil, grow up.”

Not only are you hindering your ability to grow as a business, provide better careers for your staff, and provide better facilities and programs for your members, you’re literally doing your entire local community a massive disservice. Everyone in your community should have the opportunity to know how your service can change their life for the better.

We do far more than provide a quality workout. We make fitness fun for people — for the first time, for most members.

“Most people have a completely screwed up idea of what fitness actually is or how nutrition works, because of how we’re socialized.”

Society does a bad job of teaching health and wellness, and when we do our jobs right, we help people life healthier, more fulfilling lives. They’re able to achieve things they didn’t know were possible. They become better leaders, teachers, and parents. You’re not just changing their lives for the better, but the lives of their kids and everyone else who depends on them to be the best version of themselves.

These are meaningful interactions. You’re doing important work.

And if they’re having that first conversation with you, it’s because they’ve already identified a need, whether it’s that they want to improve how they feel or that they want to be able to play with their grandkids.

“This is real shit, guys. Sack up.”

Your job is to help your prospects make an informed decision about whether or not you’re a good fit.

5:04 Quality over Quantity

Having a really high-quality sales process is important when you’re trying to position yourself as a specialist in your field. Not everyone will benefit from your niche offerings. You know you’re doing it right when you receive a referral from someone who wasn’t a good fit, but who talked you up to a friend or family member who was.

Remember, it’s not about talking everyone into a membership. It’s not about getting the highest conversion rate. It’s about how many quality, appropriate members you gain. Otherwise, you’ll eventually run into a culture issue in your gym.

7:40 We are in the relationship business

This is a first date. Get the relationship off on the right foot. It’s about them and what really matters to them. By virtue of what you do, your customer service is already above and beyond anything they’ve experienced at a standard gym by the time they have even their first conversation with you. If you get this “first date” right, you’ll have a high likelihood that this relationship will convert not only into a membership, but into one that will last for a long time.

Your consultation with prospects allows you to explain what you do in a way where they actually understand the value.

9:30 Getting to know them, building trust, and being relatable.

  1. Set expectations: “Today we want to really get to know you, learn about your background and training, see what you want to accomplish and if we’re a good fit for you. Is that fair?”
  2. Start with facility tour. It’s not so much about actually seeing the facility as to get them moving around and meeting people. Markus usually walks them over immediately to any other staff member he sees, to introduce them by name and to make the prospect feel welcome. Create a velvet-rope effect. They’re a VIP.
  3. Ask about their past training experience and what they’re doing now. It’s not about criticizing what they’re doing. Don’t be an asshole. Listen to what they tell you, and ask what about their previous training didn’t work for them. Even if you’re thinking, “Yeah, no wonder it wasn’t working for you,” just listen and tell them you hear that a lot.
  4. “Tell me a little about your understanding of CrossFit.”

You may hear some crazy stuff. Just listen. Whatever they tell you, respond with something like, “You know, that’s not too bad,” and explain to them, piece by piece, in plain English, what it actually is. This is not the time to wow them with your stunning array of jargon — you can save the technical stuff for Onramp. Meet them where they are now. Use examples and specific references to what they’ve already told you.

Don’t get defensive about what CrossFit really is. For example, you could say, “You’ll notice there’s not a lot of equipment here. We use the body the way it’s meant to be used, and we call that ‘functional movement.’ A lot of thought goes into what workouts happen day-to-day. Unlike what you said you experienced at [whatever gym chain they tried], you’re coming in every day for a structured, coach-led class. Our coaches are experts in human movement and they work individually with every athlete. You said you have that shoulder injury, and we’ll show you how to adapt to that and do a scaled workout.”

18:20 The Three W’s

“What is it that you’re looking to accomplish?” They may start with a surface-level “Well, who doesn’t want to lose some weight,” but get to know a bit more about the circumstances. Is the weight gain a result of life transitions, like having kids or switching to a desk job, for example?

“Why?” Find out why the goal is important to them. Listen. Keep digging. “And why does that matter to you?” Feel this out on a case-by-case basis. You don’t want to invade this person’s privacy and you don’t usually need every detail, but you do want to get to their real “why.” It usually takes two or three layers of digging to get there. If you let them give you a bullshit answer, they’re very likely to use that bullshit answer to get out of their contract three months later.

Sometimes this is the first time they’re saying the real reason they want to lose weight out loud. Let them know that you want to understand what’s really important to them in order to help them meet their goals. It will be important for days when they need support and extra motivation.

“By when?” The more specific a date the better, whether it’s by their wedding day, or by the time they take that cruise in July. Don’t over-address it; just make sure that you hear it and they know it, and move on.

22:30 Movement

This assessment workout is a frequently screwed up portion of the intro. The point of this first workout is to show them that it’s doable, it’s fun, and it works.

We’re not here to scare someone into fitness. Coaches miss the mark when they show someone the “real” workout on the board and then take each piece and scale it to the newbie. In fact, we recommend not even writing it up on the wall. Disarm their unspoken objections. If they’re saying to themselves, “I knew I couldn’t do this,” that first workout isn’t fun for them. You want to inventory of how they move as you go. Let them feel a win. Celebrate what they did right.

Make sure you take two or three minutes to give them an easy exercise they can do before class to alleviate any injuries they’re working with.

Part of what you’re doing in this intro is helping them realize that working with you can improve an area of their life that it perhaps hadn’t occurred to them was even fixable. It has a lot of value for people, especially if they have a nagging injury. Even if there’s no injury, but you know they sit at their desk all day, blow their mind with the couch stretch they can do at home (from their couch!) every day before they come in.

This is dropping the “golden nugget:” Giving them something easy and attainable to do.

Note: We assume that this is happening after you’ve had a rapport-building phone call with the prospect. Please don’t let them just schedule themselves and come on in. (In part because you’ll get a lot of no-shows.)

35:45 Prescribing the Solution

This is where people start to get panicky, because this is basically where you’re asking for the sale. But don’t look at it that way.

This is where you get to repeat back their Three W’s and to make sure you’re correct. “So you want to lose those 30 pounds before you go on your cruise in July, so that your friends don’t make fun of you for being the fat one. Cool. Here’s how we’re going to accomplish that. What I recommend to start is that you get in here three or four days a week, I’ll give you basic guidelines on nutrition, and your biggest job for the first couple months is just to make sure you get in here. And here’s how we’ll scale it up,” etc.

If their goal is unrealistic, let them know, and suggest a healthier plan.

Once you lay it out, ask them if they’d consider it a win.

42:20 Close the Sale

Suggest a program for them to sign up for based on their goals. “Since your cruise is in July, I suggest either the six or twelve-month plan, so you can hit your goals and then recover after after having a good time on vacation.” Ask them which one they want to go with.

If they have any objections, this is where they will come up. Don’t take it personally — it’s good for them to have questions, and if there’s a legitimate objection, you can address it. If you’ve done your job well in this intro session, you’ll have already negated the boilerplate objections about how you compare to the competition and what value they’ll get for their money. They see a clear path to the outcomes they want.

44:30 Post-Conversion

Congratulate them, get them signed up right away, and go over core policies.

Think of the five or so things that they need to know right away — be respectful, show up on time, cancellation policy, etc. — and talk them through each one as they initial. Get them to verbally acknowledge that yes, these key policies make sense and sound fair. Be transparent about your policies. You never want to be in a position of saying, “Well it was in the fine print and you signed it, so you owe me money.”

Get them signed up for their first session right away.

47:40 Putting it together

Commit to using the script, exactly as you wrote it, ten times. After you’ve done it ten times, you can consider tweaking it. It’s something you’re going to have to practice. (Don’t do it two or three times and be like, “It doesn’t work! Let’s change everything!”)

Note: The outline above was for a first-time functional fitness athlete, and you’ll vary it if someone has a ton of CrossFit experience. But even then, you’ll want to take them through a full assessment before you ever say, “Oh, come in and try out a class. You totally know what you’re doing.”

53:47 Viewer Questions

How best to incentivize new members

Network member Todd said he did an incentive that if a new member comes in three times a week every month for three months, he gives them a small discount.

We’re glad you brought this up, because actually advise against monetary incentives. The thought behind it, of keeping a new member on track and noticing their engagement, is totally on point. However, we’d much rather add value than give a discount. As an industry, frequent discounting is a habit that devalues the services we provide.

55:22 – How to handle same-day referrals

Louis asks what to do if someone brings in a referral for the same day, before you’re able to set up a consult call. Should you see them the day they come in, or schedule it for another time after you’ve learned about them and their goals?

It depends on how you run things. If you have a one-on-one intro process, all roads have to lead to that. If someone asks if they can bring in a friend, let them know about why it’s important for you to work with someone individually the first time around, and ask for the friend’s number so you can call and schedule something.

If your intro person just shows up with a buddy who they plan to work out with that day, try to schedule something individually for the buddy as well. Then handle it on a case-by-case basis. Maybe you want to let that buddy go sit in on a class while you work out with the lead. If the buddy doesn’t seem ready for that, you could offer to let them do the warm-up with their friend, and then get them set up on an Assault bike or something like it for the rest of the consult — something that you don’t have to teach them, and where they’re not likely to hurt themselves before you get a chance to know how they move in their own one-on-one session.

58:15 Membership Options – Package vs. Unlimited Monthly

Scott from Gloucester Strength asked about offering a package such as three weekly sessions, or if they should only offer unlimited.

We’re firm believers in “unlimited only.” If someone’s only coming in three times per week, they’re just not going to see good results for the amount of work they’re putting in, and they’re only saving a nominal amount of money. It’s basically impossible for them to meet the goals you set together, and we’re not in the business of setting people up for failure.

1:00:00 What about Bring a Friend Day?

“Bring a Friend Day” is a powerful tool. We prefer to take it further with a “Friends and Family Week,” because it gives multiple opportunities for them to experience your offerings, and it doesn’t crowd the classes. Plus, it gives you a chance to build relationships with the prospects.

1:01:00 How do you handle the “it seems expensive” sales objection?

If that issue is still coming up by the end of the consultation session, something’s gone wrong. It’s not the membership that they’re signing up for at that point, or it shouldn’t be — They’re paying to lose those thirty pounds and feel to better, like they told you about earlier. If they think it sounds expensive, ask them what they’re comparing that cost to. They’re probably comparing it to the cost of their last corporate gym membership, rather than to personal training.

If it’s an objection you’re seeing a lot, look at the first 80% of your intro session to see what you could be doing better.

Jessica Depatie About the author

Jessica is the marketing maven here at Gymwright. She's a business consultant and holistic marketer for fitness businesses. She specializes in the decision-making psychology of what makes everyday people want to optimize themselves. She dives deep into how people seek out growth in the pursuit of living happier and healthier.

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