The way personal trainers are taught to get clients is not only antiquated but also ineffective in today’s marketing world. Offering free sessions and trying hard to close the deal on the first try have resulted in a lack of trust from the consumer and an uphill climb to book business. It’s time we traded in this system for a newer model.
Relationship marketing “is a strategy designed to foster customer loyalty, interaction and long-term engagement” (Olenski 2013)—which sounds like exactly the type of client relationship we want to land! This type of marketing is rooted in trust. And trust is a complicated dance, requiring credibility, reliability and intimacy, devoid of self-interest (Maister, Green & Galford 2001).
If you can find ways to build trust, you can easily increase the size of your business. We must reframe lead generation and develop deeper interactions with leads after the initial meeting or contact. Instead of believing you must convert on the first try, think about the long game. Begin to envision “courting” clients versus pressuring them into a quick commitment. Let’s dig in.
How to Build a Better Mouse Trap
Many times we offer folks a free session. Then we try to give the best workout we can, build a need for what we offer, and focus on how to “close the deal” and overcome objections at the conclusion.
But we may be missing out on leads who aren’t quite ready to take advantage of our free session—because, in their minds, doing so carries a hefty price tag that doesn’t yet match the amount of trust they have in you or the product. For them, the risk isn’t just about dollars; risk also includes perceived embarrassment, judgment, discomfort, time and energy. You don’t need to ditch the free-session offer altogether. But open your mind to other no- or low-cost options that allow you to build credibility with potential clients, thus leading them deeper into your sales cycle.
Such options could include the following:
Writing handouts for new members. Provide a quick-fix workout to help people get started, or give a list of gym-bag essentials.
Building a video channel (YouTube or Vimeo). Create playlists for different types of leads (e.g., new to exercise, returning to exercise, women, millennials), and provide free access.
Hosting happy hours on the fitness floor. Offer free, quick meetups at peak times to warm up, cool down, stretch out, or work on core or mobility.
Teaching group fitness classes. As a trainer, get on the schedule; find classes that make sense for you to teach, and invite potential clients to come exercise with you for free!
Once you offer your potential clients lower-risk options, you can provide opportunities to move deeper into the sales cycle. Leads may progress linearly, or they may move straight from reading your free workout handout to booking sessions. You never know. The secret is to provide options that showcase your knowledge. But you can’t stop there.
Here’s the motto I live by: “All the people I come in contact with are clients; they just might not be paying me yet!” When a client doesn’t jump into paid sessions, it doesn’t mean your information is less valuable. You don’t need to drop the price. Most folks don’t purchase on the first try. Instead of losing hope and crossing another person off your list, institute ways to build up the value of your services over time to better match the investment. Then, when the lead feels the time is right, you can book the business.
Building a system that allows you to be there for your leads shouldn’t incite panic. It doesn’t require a ton of time or energy on an ongoing basis. But, you do have to build the system first. The secret to your success is creating—and diligently working at—a robust keep-in-touch strategy.
To begin building your KIT strategy, find a system to organize your leads. The system must store the lead’s information, track activity and trigger next steps. You could manage this with an Excel or Google sheet if you’re just getting started, but these methods are not ideal long term. Try using a customer relationship management tool, instead.
For much more on the KIT strategy, including a list of customer relationship management tools, please see “A Revamped Recipe for Reaching More Clients” in the online IDEA Library or in the August 2018 issue of IDEA Fit Business Success). If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at 800-999-4332, ext. 7.