You want to close every client who walks through your door. But initial consultations can be uncomfortable for trainers and clients alike. Both parties may feel self-conscious and insecure: many clients are anxious about their physical issues and/or appearance, and trainers may have less confidence in their business skills than their training skills. Below are three strategies that can help you communicate effectively and close the deal in those crucial initial consultations.
#1: Interacting With People
Trainers who ace consultations communicate well with different people and easily make connections. There are two facets to successful interaction, and you may need to develop your skills in both areas. First, begin by assessing how well you interact with various populations (e.g., men, women, seniors, ultrafit people, overweight people, shy people, etc.). If you find that you feel uncomfortable approaching certain types of people, make a conscious effort to include them in your daily interactions at the gym. Start by simply saying hello. From there, work on increasing the amount of contact you have with different sorts of people.
Once you have expanded your comfort level in this way, assess your rapport-building skills. The ability to develop a connection quickly is crucial when a client is deciding whether to sign with you. Use the following rapport-building basics to analyze your verbal and nonverbal communication skills for strengths and weaknesses:
- Do you make direct eye contact with people? Looking up at someone while keeping your head lowered conveys uncertainty. Looking down your nose communicates egocentricity.
- Do your body language, tone of voice and spoken words all match? If your words are positive, but your body language is closed off, your potential client is getting mixed messages, which may erode your credibility.
- Do you match your body language and tone of voice to the body language and tone of voice that your potential client is using? Matching the two will set the client at ease and subliminally tell him or her, “We are alike.”
- Does your passion for health and fitness come through in your consultations? Clients want to work with people who truly believe in what they are selling.
#2: Exuding Confidence
Trainers who are successful appear confident during consultations but are not overly chatty. When conducting your consultations, notice who does the majority of the talking. If it’s the potential client, that’s good. If not, this is a part of your consultation style that needs improving. Work on changing the trainer-client talking ratio to favor your client.
You will always feel confident that you can help clients when you understand their wants and needs. The only way to ascertain that information is to ask key questions like “How can I help you?” “What would you like to be able to do when you reach your goal?” or “What prompted you to see a personal trainer?” and then listen to what the clients have to say. This strategy will help bring to light their goals and underlying motivations. When it comes time to outline your program suggestions and recommendations, you can tailor your sales pitch precisely to what clients have told you.
#3: Closing the Deal
Most trainers wait for the prospect to ask the dreaded question “How much do you charge?” and consequently the trainers feel they must justify or defend their rates. The flood of emotion that accompanies this question can make an otherwise confident trainer appear nervous—and that can send negative signals to potential clients.
A thorough analysis of how you derived your fee schedule will help you feel more confident about discussing money matters. Knowing the going rate of other trainers with similar qualifications and experience in your area can help assure you that potential clients are willing and able to pay the same amount to train with you. If you possess specialty skills or qualifications that set you apart from other trainers, clients will expect you to charge more, so be sure of yourself in doing so.
Tie your ability to help a client directly to the discussion of money. Do this by linking the topic of fees to a summary of what clients have told you during the consultation. For example, reiterate what they said they want to achieve. Then provide them with a clear outline of your proposed program and an estimate of how many sessions it will take for you to help them reach their goals. Broaching money matters first keeps you in control of your emotions and instills a sense of confidence that persuades clients to sign up every time.
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