Every fitness facility lives or dies by the quality of its sales staff. But even the most dedicated team of sales professionals can temporarily lose motivation. After all, selling membership is tough.

“A lot of people think that selling membership is like selling a pair of pants, but it’s not,” explains Nilu Dadbeh, manager of Ron Zalko Total Body Fitness and Yoga in Vancouver, British Columbia. “You’re changing someone’s life—actually developing a relationship. It’s personal, and you have to create good rapport.”
When the challenges of selling fitness cause motivation to flag in your sales staff, your job is to give them the boost they need.

Motivation Is Contagious

If you’re not feeling motivated, you can’t possibly encourage your staff to get out there and raise the roof. You first need to take care of number one. Figure out what motivates you and do something about it.

Try Something New. “If I lack motivation, it’s often because I’m bored,” says Dadbeh. “If that’s the case, I create a new promotion that will excite me—like a fitness-wear fashion show—something to which members can bring nonmembers. Creating new plans and goals keeps me motivated.”

Build a Support System. “Sometimes an encouraging word is worth a million dollars,” offers Maxine Stires, owner of three Curves locations in El Paso, Texas. She stays motivated by combining a good support system with ongoing learning. One great way she meets both goals, she says, is through Club Camp, a program hosted by Curves Interna┬¡tional. Camp attendees learn the latest about nutrition and exercise and also hear testimonials from individuals who have lost weight through the Curves program and kept it off. Attendees then return to their clubs full of energy, knowledge and a passion they can’t help but pass along.

Knowledge Is Power

Energize your staff with regular training sessions that get them jazzed about their jobs. Discuss sales techniques, brainstorm ways to handle rejections, and clearly communicate new sales strategies and programs.

One component of each training session should be general fitness information. Remind your staff why it’s so important for people to lead healthy lifestyles. You might tackle an important health topic each month, such as the beneficial effects of exercise on heart disease or stress.

Stires reviews sales training with her team once a month. She also makes time to go over nutritional facts, the Curves diet plan, new equipment and upcoming promotions. She always shares the information she picks up from training sessions she attends, and passes on messages from motivational speakers with the same enthusiasm the speakers themselves convey.

Teamwork Builds Sales

Having a solid team in place is a great way to increase motivation. As with a sports team, members feed off each other’s energy and reach goals they could never attain on their own.
Stires has used this team approach with incredible results. She’s found that if one staff member isn’t doing well, the other team members will encourage and coach that person, for example by using role playing to demonstrate possible sales scenarios.

To reinforce the team concept, Stires regularly honors the top motivator of the team, not the top seller. If a sales representative has gone beyond the call of duty in helping another team member, that rep becomes the star of the month. Because recognition isn’t based solely on sales volume, team members feel comfortable helping each other reach their sales objectives. When the team works together, everyone wins!

Slow Time Can Be Fun Time

Every club has a dreaded slow time, but instead of letting this time drain your staff’s enthusiasm, use it to try different approaches to sales.
Dadbeh’s facility is close to several beaches and parks. During the slower summer months, she arms staff with flyers and free passes and sends them off to invade the city’s hot spots. Sales reps may set up a table on the beach near the volleyball court when a tournament is going on, or pass out flyers to body-conscious sunbathers.
Or, Dadbeh has the staff dress professionally and visit office buildings to hand out flyers with information on the facility’s latest corporate programs.

Realistic Goals Spur Action

Help your staff develop realistic goals, and reward the accomplishment of these goals with lots of recognition and praise. When your sales staff knows what’s expected—and what the rewards are for meeting expectations—they find it easier to get their job done.

Once goals are in place, coach your staff on developing a game plan. Create a list of daily sales activities for each staff member, such as a quota for calls and personal tours. Spice things up with weekly and monthly activities, like visiting a certain number of corporations each month. Each sales activity will bring staff closer to their goals.

A Good Coach Is Also a Cheerleader

Motivating staff is an ongoing job, and as the top motivator, you need to constantly build up your sales team and keep the excitement going. Be creative. Talk to your staff to find out what truly motivates them and you’ll soon have a team that motivates every other department at your club. n

Jamie Leggatt is a freelance writer and fitness enthusiast from Surrey, British Columbia. Her articles on fitness, health, business and psychology have been published in national magazines. She also creates communication materials for companies of all sizes. Her Web site is www.jlwriting.com.