Taking the Emotion Out of Sales Pitches

by Darren Jacobson on Jul 01, 2008

How to sell your personal training services without getting all emotional about it.

It used to be that only those with disposable income availed themselves of personal training services. Now that more middle-class consumers are turning to personal trainers, the field has become even more competitive. That means trainers need to find a way to separate themselves from the pack. One way to do that is to generate more sales.

Unfortunately, most trainers are ill-equipped to sell their services. The majority build their technical skills but pay far less attention to their marketing or business acumen. Without specialized business education, many trainers get emotionally involved when selling their valuable services to prospective clients. No one likes to appear pushy or face possible rejection, and trainers are no exception.

Armed with the proper tools and resources, you can successfully pitch your services without falling prey to emotions. But this requires a hard-focused, dedicated approach.

Wearing the Sales Hat

To circumvent the emotional aspects of the sales process, look at the whole picture in manageable chunks. While the process can seem daunting at times, it will be less so if you break it down into four main aspects:

  • cultivating contacts

  • arranging appointments

  • pitching services

  • closing the sale

Cultivating Contacts

From this moment on, look at everyone you encounter as a potential client. That includes members walking through your facility, people in shopping malls within the general vicinity of your facility or residents and businesspeople in your town.

The goal is to seek contact information during daily encounters, not necessarily to make a sale. Whether you use casual conversation, lifestyle questionnaires or discount fliers, the intention is to gather each contact’s correct name, phone number and e-mail address. You can also solicit information on contacts from your sales teams and new-member induction programs or simply by walking the floor of your club.

“Hot” contacts are people whom you see often in your facility or with whom you have had some previous connection, even if it did not involve any sales pitch. “Cold” contacts are those whom you have not spoken with or faced in person; as the name implies, it’s harder to connect with this group. Success in cold calling comes with practice.

Arranging Appointments

Once you have your leads and have separated the hot from the cold, you need to get those leads to commit to an appointment with you. To ensure that you approach this step without emotion, it is vital to prepare a “script” in order to keep the initial conversation going in the right direction.

One way to do this is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. We have all been the victims of a hard sell at some time or another. When targeted by salespeople, we automatically press our internal “panic button,” which essentially shuts down the brain and starts us furiously backpedaling for any excuse to get away. Think about the countless times your dinner has been interrupted by a telemarketer: after a while, it is easy to toss out a token excuse while simultaneously hanging up the phone.

When calling contacts to make an appointment to sell your services, be aware of this panic button blinking at all times. Remember that your prospective leads are poised to shut you out should your approach/pitch go in a direction that does not connect with them. It will take some trial and error on your part to determine which words initiate a good dialogue and which of your statements will generate a confirmed appointment for a specific day and time.

Pitching Services

It’s when you pitch your services that you sit “belly to belly” with the potential client. Keep in mind that your presentation has a specific value in terms of the time you (and the prospective client) set aside, so there is some urgency to get the prospect to come on board. Here’s how to go about pitching your services in the proper manner.

Make a Great First Impression. Once an impression is made, people tend to cling to that impression—be it positive or negative. This is known as the primacy effect. So if you make a positive first impression, you have the advantage of starting on a good footing. Think about how you can make a great first impression. Consider your attitude, energy, handshake and appearance—even your smile; how do they come across the first time you meet people? And don’t overlook what you are wearing and your cleanliness, as everything counts during a first encounter.

Find a Nonthreatening Environment. Think carefully about where you want to make the “pitch.” The training floor can be intimidating to clients and the juice bar too crowded or loud. The back office might be too intimate and uncomfortable for a new client. Look around your facility, and find a spot that works for both of you.

Develop a System That Works. To hone your sales ability, try a few different approaches before settling on one that flows well—from ordering drinks at the beginning to discussing and setting goals to (most important) citing your pricing and packages. Pitch sessions can begin to resemble the movie Groundhog Day, and the dialogue can become rote, but if it works for you, then why change it? Just make sure that you deliver your pitch with intensity and excitement every time. Even if you have done the pitch 100 times before, this is the customer’s first time, so be sure to shine.

Convey Professionalism at All Times. The pitch session is an opportunity for you to display the level of focus and professionalism that the potential client will get during the training sessions. Don’t leave the impression that you will engage in “quick” chats with your colleagues or get distracted by unnecessary phone calls or other interruptions.

Keep the Pitching Session on the Right Track. Pitching your services can be a bit like steering a ship: you need to continually remain focused and make minor adjustments as you gather more information from the prospective client. Remember to actively listen and adjust your presentation depending on the type of individual in front of you. Do some research into personality traits, and understand how to tap into different ones. Once you get some insight into the type of personality sitting in front of you, you will know which hot buttons to press to convey your value as a trainer.

Keep the Pitch Focused and to the Point. A good pitch should take 30 minutes of your time. You should make it your goal to convert at least 70% of prospective clients who sit in front of you.

Closing the Sale

If your sales pitch has been successful, then closing the sale will be the easy part. In the simplest and most straightforward terms, present your pricing system and any available packages to the prospective client. Answer questions in a polite and professional manner. Then get the prospect to confirm the conditions, and close the deal!

IDEA Fitness Manager, Volume 20, Issue 4

© 2008 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Darren Jacobson

Darren Jacobson IDEA Author/Presenter

Darren Jacobson is the innovator of the franchise personal training concept for Virgin Active South Africa, where he manages over 750 personal trainers in 88 health clubs. He holds a bachelor’s degr...