The following is a guest post by Thom Tombs. Thom has a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science, and is a former U.S. Marine and Senior IT Director for a fast-growing biotech company. Thom is the proud owner and operator of Smarter Exercise in Encinitas, CA.
In this guest post, Thom tackles some of the most challenging obstacles in selling high-intensity personal training, such as qualifying new prospects, overcoming limiting beliefs around pricing, and building a solid sales process.
Enter Thom …
Let’s look at a potential client’s first (and sometimes last) experience with high-intensity training (HIT)and a facility where safety and efficacy are primary concerns. Assume that this person has actually qualified themselves as a client.
First, The Unqualified Candidate
I am not referring to the occasional coupon-shopper who is only responding to an advertised “deal” and has no intention of committing to a serious exercise program anywhere, ever. Those guys are time and energy vampires, as soon as they expose their true nature, stake them in the heart! Just kidding… steep discounts and free trials may be appropriate in some situations; as a facility where one-on-one is the only offering, I am wary of those situations.
I suppose that free introductory sessions to unqualified candidates can be great for keeping new instructors humble, or letting those instructors hone their skills and sharpen their sales claws. However, do you really want inexperienced staff introducing your business to new clients? Do you really want your new salespeople flirting with bouts of depression from frequent rejection? I know, I know… even a blind squirrel finds a nut now and again, but also consider that we are sowing seeds in infertile ground. Whatever makes the unqualified candidate unreceptive, money or effort or inexperience, their perception of their first HIT experience has been influenced forever into the future.
The Qualified Candidate
A qualified candidate already learned about HIT from a friend, an article in a magazine, or Lawrence’s Podcast, or by one of the books by E. Darden, F. Hahn, D. McGuff, A. Zickerman, et al. Whoever, however… that potential client has taken the time to read and learn about the idea of HIT. They have thought about it. Maybe they have tried to put it into practice themselves. They have done a little research to find you. They have looked at your website, and hopefully you have given them complete transparency about your pricing and payment methods. I also give new clients the option to complete their intake form at home. Something inspires them to take the next step – which is to call or self-schedule for an appointment. Oh, please offer scheduling from your website!
You Do Not Need To Defend Your Pricing
Know your market and name your price. You are providing a valuable and relatively unique service that will benefit your clients’ lives in ways they cannot yet imagine. You do not have to defend your pricing, period. I have an introductory session price of $125. I want to give candidates every opportunity to disqualify themselves before they schedule an appointment. In part we are selling the value of time. Why waste an unqualified candidate’s time? If they are unwilling to invest $125, what do you think will happen when I present them with an option to purchase an annual pass at $5,000?
My 10-workout package per-session price is $75. If an unqualified candidate goes to the website expecting $25/month, then a difference of $5 per session or even $50 per session is not going to make the difference to them. Honestly, it will not matter if the rate is $35 per session or $150 per session, if they are expecting class rates, they will walk. When they walk out, you will be disappointed in yourself that you spent an hour, again, trying to sell a Tesla to someone who sees more value in a Honda. “Gee, where did I go wrong in my sales presentation?” you ask. Please, let them disqualify themselves before signing-up and consuming your time and energy (see vampires above, even if they are the friendly Twilight kind of vampires).
It’s Just Good Manners
If you haven’t disclosed your pricing, that unqualified candidate could be surprised to learn that they are in the wrong setting. They just wasted their time and yours. That will make them feel out-of-place and uncomfortable. Since they were made uncomfortable, we may have blown your one shot to bring them into the HIT family. “Yeah, great workout, but they’re all jerks!”
Don’t Sell. Learn.
When a self-qualified candidate comes-in for the first time, know that their plan is to sign-up with you. You should expect this. I mean, who shows-up at a fish market unless they want to buy fish? You do not need to sell your service; HIT (SuperSlow in my case) sells itself. If you were transparent in your pricing, your potential client already knows how HIT will fit into their budget (and likely their schedule, too). The rest is easy… all you have to do is exceed their expectations. Talk with them to learn about their fitness history, limitations (past or current injuries that need to be addressed). Talk about their goals and expectations – that’s why they came-in to see you.
- Address any concerns honestly
- Educate (use a dropper not a firehose)
- Provide a great workout
- Present payment options
- Accept payment
You Get One Shot
If a qualified candidate does not sign-up following an introductory session, I take it very personally. Why? Because I did that person a great disservice. Here we are with the safest, most efficient, most sustainable exercise program conjured-up by mankind, and I failed to connect with the client in a meaningful way. I failed to demonstrate the value of HIT in a way that he or she needed. In turn, they may lose-out on strength and the health benefits of safe, effective exercise for the rest of their life. That responsibility is mine, it is solely on me. I have not done my business (or your business) any favours either. How many other HIT studios do you think they will interview in the future? Uh, zero.
Avoid vampires. Use your time and energy with qualified candidates and work to qualify potential clients. The introduction to HIT will go smoother for everyone if candidates are receptive and capable of purchasing your service. If financial objections are the only obstacle and you do not offer lower-cost alternatives, help them by pointing them in the right direction: add them to your interest list, direct them to free online resources, or recommend any of the books / resources listed above. We may only have one shot to bring a qualified candidate into the HIT family. Understand that your new client has come-in to sign-up with you. Treat them with the utmost care and respect. You will close the sale and your new client will thank you for many years to come.
If you would like to learn more about how to sell your high intensity training services effectively, please check out these podcasts:
- Bill Crawford – How To Close The Sale (#197)
- Dwayne Wimmer – How To Sell High Intensity Strength Training
- Adrian Antigua – How To Automate Your High-Intensity Training Sales Process (#182)
If you are interested in blue prints, expert community, and coaching on how to generate more online leads and increase sales in your high intensity training business, please join the HIT Business Membership
michael zarillo says
The most important aspect is congruency. The marketing much match the experience. I believe it is best to have pricing upfront either on the initial ad piece or part of the FAQ that is both on the website and emailed with the initial scheduling paperwork.
I believe the conversation about money is easy – Time saved, no injuries, consistent improvement all reinforce the value. If you target the correct market it’s not difficult.
People want to feel good, strong, mobile stay off the vanity idiocy.
Thank you for your comment Michael. Really appreciate you sharing your thoughts. I agree with everything you’ve said there. Sold advice from someone who’s walked the walk.