Personal training is not just about fitness – it is a business where sales and marketing can make or break you. In this article, fellow PTs share tips and advice on how present and sell personal training packages.
Let me preface this article with a little story…
It was 2008, I just got my PT certification and landed a job at one of the bigger chain gyms in Tempe, Arizona. I was pumped! I loved fitness, I would get to share my passion with others, I got a free gym membership (bonus!), and I was working with a whole team of fellow trainers. Being new to the town, that was pretty cool.
The veteran trainers who had worked at the gym for awhile assured us newbie trainers how great it was to be a trainer and they were happy to offer suggestions and answer questions.
The only problem was, with over ten trainers on the floor and the majority of them being there longer than me and knowing more members, I felt lost in the crowd and completely inadequate.
My job was to not only train but to get my own clients. Which is typical in many big gyms. Unfortunately, when gyms over-hire and you are the newbie… it takes some time to build up a clientele.
I remember working out one day in the gym and two girls came up to me and asked what they had to do to get legs like mine. Little did they know that I didn’t have a car at the time and therefor biked to and from work and anywhere I wanted to go in the scorching Arizona heat! That was fun….
But anyway, I showed them a few exercises and asked them if they would like to hear about our personal training options. They said “yes” and I did the whole presentation that I was taught. They said they would really like to, but they were in college and didn’t have a lot of money and had to think about it. So, as I was trained, I called over the charismatic senior trainer to try and close the sale. He got them to commit to a few sessions and fill out the paperwork, but of course, they didn’t have their bankcards on them. I spent the next week following up with the girls, who every time they did answer the phone, told me they were still interested. The following week they no longer answered the phone. I felt like an annoying sales person instead of that nice trainer girl that showed them some cool leg exercises. This was not who I wanted to be and this job was not what I had expected.
Personal training is very much so like owning your own business… it takes time, you have to have knowledge of sales and marketing, you have to get your own customers, and many people do not succeed.
I had the best of intentions, but I also had bills. In the end, I made better money bartending and I quit my personal training career about two months after it started.
So, fast forward a few years… I got my Group Ex certification and taught classes in various gyms to stay in the industry, I eventually re-newed my expired PT certification, and I now work as a Fitness Director at a private club where I teach classes, train clients, oversee a staff of instructors and trainers, and the emphasis is more on customer service than sales.
As much as I may want to escape sales though, if I want to make money as a trainer, it is part of the job. But I think it can be more of a passive part that happens when we form relationships, build client trust, and produce results. Then the sales will come and the clients will keep coming back.
Having worked in big gyms doing membership and PT sales, I am very familiar with hard selling… do everything you can to have them sign the contract, get the debit card, don’t schedule a training session until a package is bought, always try to upsell…
Now that I work privately, I find myself being more laid back and allowing clients to take the prices home and get back to me. I may even schedule a training session first before I officially make the sale so they can experience what it is like to work with me.
Sometimes it works, sometimes not…
I struggled with this for quite some time. And sometimes still do.
Not trying to get the sale right away goes against everything that was drilled into my head about the fitness business and sales. (I once had a potential member tell me I was brainwashed when I was trying to sell her a gym membership. It was my first real job out of college and she was probably right).
But, I think too many times in the fitness industry, we try to sell first then fit that person into the product or package or workout that we are selling.
Personal training is personal. Get to know your potential client and understand him or her first. Just like not everyone should be trained the same way, not everyone should be “sold” the same way.
Personal training is personal. Get to know your potential client and understand him or her first. #PTadvice Click To Tweet
So, I took to a trainer FB group and asked my peers….
How do you present Personal Training packages/prices and close the sale??
“I usually give a 30 minute free consultation. I always close the deal…if I want to. If I am not sure the client has the right motivation, I give them my prices and tell them to think about it and get back to me if they feeling ready to go. In those cases…when they get back to me the deal is already closed and I know they have motivation to really give it all.” Michael Angress
“I do schedule a “Success Session” with people that have already been prescreened over the phone. While I’m not 100% on the close once we meet, I have ruled out many a few common reasons for not signing (can’t afford it or they don’t really aren’t willing to invest the effort on themselves just yet). I can work with most anything else and have used a ‘fast action’ bonus before for a few that were just kind of ‘on the fence’ but generally willing to do the work and could afford the prices.” Mark Valenti
“I work within a very specific demographic (women over 40) at a small, private studio, so most often the women that we meet with are ready to start/pay. We do offer a free consult/tour and close 8 out of 10. The ones who aren’t ready, aren’t ready. A hard sell won’t change that. We do often have people come back 6-12 months later, when they are ready, after not initially signing up.” Kimberly Turner Bouldin
“I worked in corporate for years and now coach entrepreneurs with their sales. If you can close the sale on the spot it’s better in my opinion. Get them to say ‘yes’ while they are excited! Just because you close the sale during the initial appointments doesn’t mean it’s a “hard close.” Find out their WHY, show them how you can help them, and tell them the truth. Do this and you won’t be selling to them, they’ll be buying from you.” Jodi Rumack
“When I meet with my clients, we go over goal setting, planning, medical history and all that initially, as I give all my listening and awareness to the client speaking. After we can get a clear path of how I could help them, I give them a pricing sheet with my prices. Truthfully, people need to find that you have value to them. In my hopes of showing them what I offer and the type of training and coaching they will get, the money will make sense. I give them the choice of when they want to choose and when they want their first training session. It’s up to them, if they are ready. If they go home and think, they might not be ready and they have my number. If they are ready, they usually make that choice to choose a package with me in front of them, so they know they are now committed!” Brooke Kaylor
“I will schedule an initial consultation. I may have spoken with them already on the phone but having that face to face rapport with them helps build value and trust. I will then offer 1-2 free 30 minute sessions so they can see what we discussed “in motion”. I have great closing success using this method. It helps build that trust between client and coach and most of the time they come to me asking when they can get started on their program without me even mentioning it! Always build that relationship first. Listen to them, show empathy, show a sense of urgency, and make sure that you are encouraging and be proactive to their wants and needs!” Rocky Galindo
“I find the model that works best for me is the GROW model. Goals, Reality, Obstacles, Will Do. So you take the person on an emotional rollercoaster by asking probing questions and asking them to explain their situation. In the goal phase they will get excited about their new plans and aspirations, the reality phase of the conversation will bring them back down again. In the obstacles phase you can talk about commitments, link back to the reality phase, then in the will do phase you sum up their situation and walk them through the services that you can offer to help them towards their goals. I try to finish with them on a high, getting them excited to work with me. That usually helps to close the sale. Truth be told if they are not 100% committed then I don’t try and close the sale.” Brendan Turner
“I have a specific formula (and script!) I use for closing my clients on the phone and I get about an 85% close rate on it. It’s about taking the client on a journey through pain to possibility and without talking much, let them lay out why they want to work with you. Then I have compelling incentives to sign up right away and a couple of back up plans to give flexibility. I second Brendan also that if the client isn’t committed and doesn’t show up for themselves in that session, I don’t want to work with them. This approach works best with premium clients and high-value packages.” Elle Kealy
“I meet with the potential client, but will have been in contact with them via email or FB so I have a bit of information to start with. I make sure I explain it all properly, but take all the necessary paperwork along with me so they can sign up on the spot if they want to. I’m not great with sales (hate cold calling!!), but it seems to work OK. I admit to people that the prices aren’t cheap, and it is an investment, but go through all the positives too. I suppose if you give them time to think about it, and they come back, they must be pretty serious about it.” Sally Mills
“I have been running three years in person and would estimate at 95% closing rate for people coming in. I go through a series of questions with them on what they want to achieve and, more importantly why they want to achieve it. I find that when them and I both really understand why they want to achieve the goal, they are excited and pumped to make it happen. Set goals in place and show them how you can help them make it happen and they would have sold your training to themselves for you in their heads.
Price packaging aspect, I like showing them three options and asking which one would suit them best. When you frame the question this way, the assumption has been made that they are going to train with you. As opposed to “would you like to train”? Stay quiet and let them talk. Once they say “I like option A, B, or C” you say “Great! Option B it is? Let’s do this” Jarod Bruce Lee
Expert advice from personal trainers on how they close the sale >> #fitbiz Click To Tweet
21 Tips for Promoting Your PT Business
A few weeks ago, I wrote a gust post on Total Coaching: The Personal Trainer Blog about promoting your personal training business. I think the more we can successfully market and promote our PT services, the less we will find ourselves doing the “sales-y” thang.
Check the article out here: 21 Tips for Promoting Your Personal Training Business.
They also put together an AWESOME info-graphic – you have to check it out! 🙂
How do you promote or market your business? What has worked, what hasn’t?