Anyone who’s ever had a sales job has heard that “80% of sales are made from the 5th to the 12th contact.” And that gets at what most mediocre salespeople do—they contact the prospect over and over, leaving the exact same message, until finally the prospect exclaims, “Please stop! Leave me alone! Enough!” And that was before the pandemic.

Selling was evolving even before COVID-19, however. Now, your customers’ focus has changed even more. As a fitness business owner or manager, what can you do to keep up? Understand the different styles of selling (deceptive, simplification and experiential), follow the three steps presented here, and you will succeed.

Three Sales Categories

Deceptive Method

Most people are familiar with this style and consider it dishonest. Think “smarmy used-car salesman”: “Well, Mrs. Jones, let me check with my manager and see if I can get you a senior discount.” It’s old, overplayed and flat-out wrong.

Unfortunately, plenty of fitness studios and gyms teach their personal training staff to use this method—and then managers wonder why they can’t acquire quality team members. Apart from there being problems in the method itself, trainers are often not the best salespeople out of the gate; this method hamstrings them and makes them think they don’t have what it takes to succeed.

The bottom line is, customers will pay more for a service if they believe in its value. It’s your job to take ownership in building and showing that value. What are the benefits of signing up with your studio? Can you share testimonials and success stories? Connect your fitness services with lower overall health costs and stress reduction. Paint a clear picture of what your potential new member will gain from joining your facility.

See also: Maximize Sales Without the Hard Sell

Simplification Method

Many companies, especially in the fitness industry, are trying to figure out how to keep it simple and create a process that, if followed to a “T” every time, produces results. It’s a streamlined, templated approach and often includes the high-volume/low-price model (HVLP). The problem is that people are very different from one another and don’t want to be a cog in a wheel or “just another number.”

This method may produce front-end sales numbers, but it usually fails to create long-term results. The reason? People don’t want to be stuck on an assembly line. They also won’t have a memorable experience, and their lack of results will soon show. The biggest hurdle faced by the HVLP model is retention. Gaining new members through sales isn’t even half the battle. Retention is the holy grail of the fitness industry, and the key lies in the next method.

Experiential Method

This is the most evolved sales method and, anecdotally, what seems to be working for franchise companies. Customers are responding positively, and results are promising. With the experiential method, you create an environment where customers see, hear and feel something different and are treated as true VIPs. Staff members call clients by their names and are 100% dedicated to helping people get results and meet their health, fitness and wellness goals.

How do you create such a sales experience? Read on for three steps to success.

See also: Sales Systems That Work

Three-Step Sales Success

1. Hire People Who Love People

While education and industry experience are necessary and useful, all the experience and education in the world are worthless if your employees aren’t service-oriented. When they have a natural desire to create experiences for your clients, it’s much easier to teach a sales process that naturally complements the inherent goal, which is to make friends through sales.

So what does that look like? Imagine an easygoing, nonconfrontational exchange where the trainer or front-desk attendant is present, makes eye contact, asks sincere questions, and shows empathy for all the struggles and obstacles that keep people from entering the fitness facility. You can’t instill this interest in a person who doesn’t like to engage others. When people are connecting genuinely, their energy is contagious, and they’re committed to creating a relationship with clients. This is the customer journey in play.

2. Create Experiences With Your Staff

As an owner or manager, you’re going to have a rough time managing your sales staff if you don’t love people. How you treat your employees is how they will treat your customers. In effect, you’re modeling the behavior you want and it allows those under your guidance to see how it’s done. Take a sincere interest in their hobbies, lives and goals, and reference them often. Get the creative juices flowing by creating experiences for your staff. Be an advocate and help them succeed by encouraging and supporting their efforts to acquire continuing education and promotions.

It all trickles down! When you empower your people, they will empower your clients and plan creative experiences unique to each person. Teach your staff how to set SMART goals for these experiences, but encourage the free flow of ideas and give team members room to explore. This is the best way to get buy-in from them and to build a safe, satisfying environment where your employees thrive and your members, in turn, excel and stay with you.

3. Create a Solid Customer Journey

Nothing botches an experience more than a pushy personal trainer who asks for a sale every 10 minutes. However, on the other end of the spectrum—and just as harmful to your business—is a personal trainer who’s afraid to ask for a prospect’s business. The answer? Create a process that takes the customer on a journey, with asking points along the way (sales funnel). For example, be sure to follow up at key moments during the trial period. Educate the customer on how the body responds to movement. Ask how the first workout went. If the prospect misses a class, check in to make sure that he or she is okay. Invite the person to bring a friend or family member for support. In short: Build a relationship. You’ll create a little more buy-in each time. And, at the right time, it will be appropriate to add the “buying question” to the experience.

As people reacquaint themselves with the idea of being back in the fitness studio after lockdown, recommit yourself and your team to meeting them where they are and creating unique, fulfilling experiences that benefit everyone involved.

See also: Optimizing Your Fitness Site for Sales