Do you really know what you’re selling?

There’s no greater sales skill than genuine knowledge about, and belief in, what you are selling.

Why don’t prospects show for appointments more often, and why is it getting harder to close the sale? The reason is quite simple, but the best way to explain it is to travel back in time and look at what some of the most successful clubs and salespeople were doing many years ago.

In the early days of the fitness industry in Australia, when the concept of a Health Club was new, the people who operated and worked in these clubs were fitness fanatics who walked their talk. They were passionate about the way they trained and what they ate. Training techniques were pretty straightforward – but that didn’t mean they weren’t effective. Training at a club was usually fun, so it wasn’t just a place to improve your fitness, it was a place to meet and make friends.

There was, generally, a very hands-on culture, with most of the successful owners, managers and salespeople training regularly, looking the part and ‘knowing their stuff’ inside out. During the sales process these guys shared what worked for them, and this gave the prospective members hope that they might achieve the same. It was inspiring. Sure, the person selling needed to build some rapport and find the prospect’s compelling reason to buy, and of course they needed to know how to ask for the sale and close, but the selling was easy because the prospect wanted to buy.

There was no need for special offers or price drops, as people’s main motivation was to buy from someone they trusted and who practiced what they preached.

The secret ‘angle’ back then was this: there was no ‘angle’ – the person selling wasn’t selling. They were sharing their knowledge and were excited about helping someone else. They told them what they could do and how they could do it – and they genuinely wanted to help the prospective member or client emulate their own fitness achievements.

This resulted in the people who signed up feeling grateful to have met an expert, rather than a salesperson with no genuine fitness knowledge who was reliant on special deals and calls to action.

The question you must ask yourself now is, do your salespeople know your product well enough? Can they educate a prospective member or client about exciting ways to achieve their results? Do they know what people need to do to get certain results and how your facility or team will help them do it? Do they have some simple fitness tips that a prospect could take away and implement even if they didn’t join? (As well as helping the individual, this would also make a positive impression and place your facility top of mind for when the prospect next considers joining a club).

If your salespeople can – and do – do this, then they are probably enjoying great success. If they aren’t, here are some ideas and tips to consider:

  1. Look at who you are recruiting for sales and start employing people that have some training experience (exercising in a club/studio) and are willing and excited to learn new ways to train and actively workout themselves.
  2. Ensure that everyone that sells can teach prospects things they wouldn’t know. This process is called INKing, meaning ‘I Never Knew’ that material.
  3. The best way to use INKing is to create Teach Sheets that the salesperson/personal trainer can use when they are on the phone and face-to-face. Examples include sheets featuring facts and myths about types of training, weight loss, building muscle and nutrition.
  4. Always use the most current information about how to safely get the best possible results. Just because the prospect doesn’t know better, doesn’t mean you can peddle them outdated information. Being bang up-to-date can also create unique selling points for your facility.
  5. When you are touring or explaining, ensure you prove that what you taught them earlier is true: this is called Proofing. To do this well you need Proof Tools, examples and ways you can show, tell or have the prospect do that will illustrate exactly what you told them. This helps make closing easy because, in fact, it serves the role of the close.

Remember: you can’t make someone like you, love you or buy from you; people need to see value, trust you and believe you so that they can sell and close themselves. People are inspired by experts that believe what they say and can prove that what they say is true.

The fitness industry is more competitive than ever, but in terms of how we need to sell, we have come full circle. If you want to make more sales without racing to the bottom of the price ladder, ensure that your salespeople genuinely know your product. By teaching the prospect over the phone, they can inspire them to come to your club for a face-to-face appointment, at which point the salesperson can reinforce what they have previously taught. The prospective member or client will want to buy, because they feel comfortable and inspired by their encounter with the expert they’ve been looking for.

Steve Jensen has been involved in the fitness industry for almost three decades and is regarded as a world leader in sales and communication training. As the founder and CEO of Impact Training Corporation and the National Sales Academy he has helped boost the profits of thousands of fitness businesses in Australia and around the world. If you have any questions, feel free to call 02 9994 8033 and go to