As our industry shifts, an essential conversation continues to be technology—in particular, how to create and grow a full-scale experience for clients of your fitness business. In Part One, we introduced the concept of creating a sales cycle process—instead of a funnel—and dove deep into stages one and two. Now it’s time to focus on the final three stages and the technology you should consider leveraging for maximum impact.
Let’s review the five stages of an evolved, full-scale business solution:
- Activation: free, low risk
- Events: free, small risk
- Trials: free, moderate risk
- Digital offerings: moderate investment, low risk
- In-person offerings: moderate-to-high investment, moderate-to-high risk
Together, these stages provide streamlined opportunities for awareness, acquisition, sales, service and retention. For this process to work, though, you must make smart decisions when choosing technology. You need options you can easily stack and that will offer as seamless an experience as possible.
In stages one and two, you made choices about these topics:
- social media scheduling tools
- customer relationship management (CRM) and email marketing
- event management or scheduling
- virtual delivery software
Let’s examine what you’ll need for the remaining stages for your fitness business.
See also: Low-Budget Marketing Strategies
Stage Three: Trials
Once you’ve pulled leads into your sales cycle through activation and events, you’ll want to build trust and credibility through trials. While some clients may dive headfirst into your digital or in-person offerings from stages one and two, others may require more nurturing.
Trials allow prospects to experience a service very similar to what you’ll sell deeper into your sales cycle process. A free offering incurs additional risk for them, as the trial may entail showing up in person or making another type of effort. Some people might stay in stage one or two for a while before moving on to a trial offer.
Your trial offering(s) should match what you plan to sell in stages four or five. For example, if you sell a subscription to your online fitness studio, you might offer a free 7-day trial allowing prospects to participate in your regularly scheduled classes. Trainers who offer in-person program design and delivery in stage five could provide a free initial consultation consisting of an interview, an assessment and a short workout.
Your trial offers must be as frictionless as possible. The less “hand-to-hand combat” you have in stage three, the easier it will be to scale and avoid wasted time in your fitness business. The process for taking advantage of your free experience should mirror the purchase process for stages four and five, and you’ll want to choose technology that allows you to easily convert a “free” customer into a paying one.
Your stage-three technology needs:
- appointment management or scheduling software
- virtual delivery software
In stage two, we briefly discussed scheduling software as a means to track event reservations, but your needs become more complicated when it comes to tracking scheduled trial sessions or class reservations where capacity is an issue. Good options for a calendar service include Calendly, Acuity or ScheduleOnce. While these services are inexpensive and a simple way to sync your availability with your clients, they are best used for single-customer services. If you’re dealing with groups of any size and there are capacity restrictions, explore software such as Mindbody, GroupEx PRO, Pike13, WellnessLiving, Vagaro, Zenplanner or Bookeo.
Even though you won’t be collecting payment in stage three, do assess each software’s payment capability. Some will have a built-in payment processor, and others will require you to set up and connect payment processing with another system (e.g., Stripe, Square, Apple Pay or PayPal). The most challenging option, though sometimes the most cost-effective, is to manage a payment processor separately from your scheduling software. We’ll discuss this more in stage four. Your virtual-delivery technology needs will be influenced by your trial offer, which exposes leads to your products.
Stage Four: Digital Offerings
Stages four and five represent how you will monetize your services. While there are many options for packaging your expertise, we’ll separate these into two broad categories: digital and in person. It’s essential to diversify your fitness business and offer at least one digital option. Digital can attract a different audience, serve as a steppingstone to (potentially) higher-priced in-person offers, or simply add value to your in-person services. Digital is extremely valuable, and many will prefer it. Determine market pricing for digital services independently—don’t just offer them as a less expensive alternative to your in-person services.
Digital programs come in many shapes and sizes. Personal trainers might consider offering the following:
- customized or pre-designed workouts (delivered via email, web/mobile app or similar electronic means)
- virtually supervised workouts (via video chat, conferencing services or web/mobile app)
- accountability and feedback (via text, email, other dedicated messaging services or web/mobile app)
Possible additional technology needs for trainers in stage four:
- workout/program delivery platforms
- virtual personal training platforms
- communication platforms
Personal trainers who offer workout design may choose to use word-processing or spreadsheet software (e.g., Microsoft Word and Excel, Google Docs and Sheets, or even Adobe PDF) in conjunction with email delivery or a file-sharing service (e.g., Dropbox, Google Drive). For virtual training, general video chat apps are popular (e.g., FaceTime, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts), as are video conferencing apps (e.g., Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex) or specific apps designed for virtual personal training (e.g., Trainerize, PTminder, My PT Hub).
Group fitness instructors might consider providing these services:
- livestream workouts (delivered via digital video platforms, video conferencing or social media sites)
- video on-demand workouts (delivered via digital video platforms)
Possible additional technology needs for instructors in stage four: digital teaching platforms for your fitness business.
Instructors who offer livestream workouts may consider using social media sites (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, YouTube), video conferencing apps (e.g., Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex) or specific digital video platforms with livestreaming capabilities. Digital video platform options are widely varied (e.g., Intelivideo, Uscreen, Vimeo, onPodio, Instructrr, Mindbody). Compare your needs with available features. Some platforms have comprehensive end-to-end capabilities, including livestream, video on demand, scheduling, reservations and payment processing, while lower-priced choices offer lighter functionality.
Consider offering digital offerings as à la carte purchases, as packages or programs, or as subscriptions of various lengths (i.e., monthly or annually). Determine your payment-processing and series-management needs, and review how various technology platforms can handle them. For example, if you want to sell packages, you’ll need to see whether the platforms you’re considering can process payment, schedule sessions and track session use. If you’re offering a subscription to your virtual classes, it would be best to accept payment and manage access to the classes in one platform.
See also: Upgrade Your Virtual Communication
Stage Five: In-Person Offerings
In-person experiences will always be a part of your sales cycle process, but not everyone will want it. The value you provide in all five stages will be high, and all clients should receive a significant return on their perceived investment. However, your in-person products should command the highest price, as they require the most effort and risk for all parties (these options also demand the most time and resources).
Much as we discussed in stage four, you could have several options for your in-person offerings, and you may want to combine in-person options with your digital offerings. Price these as à la carte purchases, packages or memberships of various lengths (i.e., monthly or annually).
Personal trainers might consider offering the following:
- one-on-one or private personal training
- small-group personal training
- large-group personal training
Like trainers, instructors can decide whether to offer drop-in classes, packages/series and/or membership (unlimited access).
Your technology choices in stages one through four should contain all you need to sell, schedule and execute in-person offerings for your fitness business. You shouldn’t need to introduce any extra technology that you haven’t previously used in other portions of your sales cycle process.
Note that while we listed several examples of software that is currently available, the list was not exhaustive, and you can expect it to change in the months and years to come. The suggestions provided here are a great place to start.
Consider your entire sales cycle process before committing to technology. Remember, you want to create the most streamlined process for you and your clients. Monitor your budget for these various technologies, as well as the time it will take to set up, maintain and take full advantage of them. Your sales cycle process will evolve; be sure your technology has room to grow!
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