Easy Selling: How to Ask for Money

by Sherri McMillan, MS on Jan 01, 2002

Developing sales skills helps strengthen your business.

Have you taken a sales training course?

Many managers and staff are uncomfortable with selling. They’d like the client to hurry up and buy the membership, the extra class or the personal training sessions so they can get going on what they know and do best. You may be scared of pushing the “hard sell” or being too aggressive. But the success of your facility can depend upon you becoming a top-notch salesperson. Holding the highest credentials, having the newest machines or touting the most popular classes will make no difference if you can’t get clients to invest in your various services. Developing sales skills not only enables you to generate a stronger bottom line but also allows you to impact more people’s lives.

Let’s start off by correcting a misconception. “Closing the sale” is the term used to describe the process of asking for the client’s money. The term can have a negative meaning to those who associate it with pressure tactics. But you do not need to be a high-pressure salesperson or use unsavory tactics to be a successful salesperson. You do have to ask potential clients to purchase your services, and respond to their concerns. That response is called “overcoming objections.”

Almost any sales objection can be dealt with in a soft, nonaggressive but assertive manner. Success with objections starts with showing more value than risk in the proposal to the potential client. In many cases, and especially true of personal training services, “No” generally means “I don’t know.” People come to your facility or ask about additional services because they are interested.

Overcoming Objections

The following scenarios, half representing membership sales and half pertinent to personal training, give some ideas for responding to common client concerns.

Concern: “I’ll never stick to it.”

Personal Trainer Response: “You’re concerned about sticking to the program. I can understand that, and that’s why you need a personal trainer, Sam. I will design a routine that will help you achieve the results you want. I will regularly update your program to give you variety and keep you challenged. And, of course, you’ll have me to keep you motivated and on track.”

Or: “Julie, at first, a lot of my other clients were concerned about sticking to the program, too, but it’s now become a habit for them. In just a few months, exercise will become a part of your routine, the same as taking a shower or brushing your teeth. The results you see will really keep you motivated. And, Julie, it’s my job to make sure you stick to it!”

Or: “Joe, that’s the beauty of personal training. When you make an appointment with me, it’s an appointment you can’t miss—just like a doctor’s appointment. So you’re forced to stick to your goals. If you don’t make it to an appointment, I’ll be calling and demanding to know why! You can’t lose!”

Concern: “I can’t afford a membership.”

Membership Sales Response: “I can respect that you want to make sure you get the best value for your money. Let’s review your goals and what a membership can offer you so you can decide for yourself.” (Remind her of everything she wants to accomplish and how access to your facility and services will help her achieve those things.) “Wouldn’t you agree that your health and fitness are worth the small investment?”

Or: “We have many clients who were in the same situation, but then they realized that the average person spends at least $50 a week on incidental items like fast food, entertainment and dinners. Jill, you don’t need to spend any more than you’re already spending. All you need to do is invest in something that’s really important to you.”

Concern: “I don’t have the time.”

Personal Trainer Response: “I can understand your concerns about time. That’s exactly why personal training is for you. Working with a personal trainer will ensure that you don’t waste any time in the gym, and you get maximum results from your workouts. It’s the results that interest you, right?”

Or: “I know that your health and appearance are important to you—that’s why personal training is perfect for you. All you have to do is show up for the session. I’ll have everything ready to go and a program that will get results quickly. Don’t you think that will save you a ton of time?”

Or: “I can certainly understand that your time is valuable and you want to make the best use of it! In fact, a lot of my clients feel exactly the same way. They all have work, family and social commitments that compete for their time, leaving very little time for workouts. But they’ve found that exercise is what holds it together for them. It keeps them sane! Their exercise programs give them more energy, greater confidence and a higher level of stamina. When they exercise, they feel more productive, so they get things done more quickly, with time left to enjoy the finer things in life. Wouldn’t you love to have more energy and be more productive in your life? Good! You just have to choose your priorities.”

Concern: “I want to think about it.”

Membership Sales Response: “I’m glad you want to think this over, Alex. It shows me you take this decision seriously. Let’s review some of the things we’ve talked about so you can make a more informed decision.” (Remind him of everything he wants to accomplish and how the benefits of a membership can help him attain those goals.) “In view of all this, it sounds like you’ve already made the logical decision. Is there anything else stopping you from starting your exercise program?”

Or: “You mentioned that you’ve been thinking about achieving these goals for some time. Do you realize that if you had started when you first began thinking about it, you would already have the results we’ve talked about? Imagine how good you’d feel! Let’s get you started today so you can start seeing those results soon!”

Concern: “What are your prices?”

Personal Trainer Response: You will get this question often. Before you answer it, discuss the potential client’s history and goals, and provide an action plan. Then you can comfortably offer her training options and price packages, because her decision will be based not only on prices but also on the relationship you have just developed.

The conversation starts with the client saying something like this: “Hi. I would like to know how much personal training costs.” You could answer: “Well, that depends on your goals. We have a variety of personal training packages to meet anyone’s situation. Let me ask you a couple of questions so I can better direct you. Are you exercising now? Really, how often? Excellent! Do you have any injuries I should know about?”

Concern: “I’d like to purchase just one session.”

A potential client may not understand what personal training is all about and may really believe she can get everything she needs by investing in only one session. Of course, we know this is not realistic. Be honest. Inform her that one session is not enough time to design a solid program that includes cardiovascular training; muscle conditioning for the upper body, lower body and torso; and flexibility—with time left to discuss posture, nutrition and lifestyle. Let her know that after only one session she will walk away with more questions than answers and will be frustrated with the rushed process.

Explain that in the beginning it is better to invest in the process so you can design an effective program, and then she can begin training on her own. Tell her you will need five hours of sessions to design a complete program, and then she can begin seeing you just once or twice every two months.

Concern: “I’ll buy a five-session package and then follow the program on my own.”

After a couple of years of following their original personal training programs, clients wonder why they’re no longer getting results. Right from the beginning, you need to educate each client that after about four to eight weeks, her body will adapt to the program you have designed, and the program will need to be adjusted and advanced if she wants to continue experiencing positive changes.

Inform her that she will need to see you one or two times every one to two months so you can make the appropriate changes. It’s also a good idea to book her future appointments ahead of time, reserving time in your schedule, so she doesn’t allow too much time to lapse between program updates. If you leave it up to your client, it may be three to six months before she returns to update her program. If she doesn’t want to book ahead, make a note in your day planner to call her in about six weeks to book the reassessment.

Closing the Sale

I know you are not in the fitness industry because you love selling but because you love helping people. But you need to sell to get people to experience your services! Remember that selling is not a bad thing! You are selling very good things: improved health and fitness, more energy, enhanced confidence and self-esteem, longevity. You must believe in yourself and your services.

IDEA Fitness Manager, Volume 14, Issue 1

© 2002 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Sherri McMillan, MS

Sherri McMillan, MS IDEA Author/Presenter

Sherri McMillan, MSc, is the co-owner of Northwest Personal Training and Northwest Women’s Fitness Club in Vancouver, Washington and Portland, Oregon. With a master’s degree in exercise physiology...