How to make a great first impression on new clients

By being authentic, professional and attentive to prospective clients’ needs, you can instil confidence and set the foundations for a long term working relationship.

Have you heard the saying ‘Your first impression is the last impression?’ It suggests that the impression people get when they initially meet us can create a lasting perception of what they think we are like – and this applies to the trainer-client relationship too.

‘First impressions can have a really lasting impact on how clients perceive you and how they look to you as an expert,’ affirms Tom Hart, Asia Pacific Regional Coaching Manager at Net Profit Explosion. Here are his top tips for getting it right.

Listen before you talk

According to Hart, where many trainers go wrong in their first meeting with a new client is talking to them about what they do, their training methods, giving them a tour of the gym or showing them the exercise equipment on offer before really finding out their needs. The first priority should always be to get to know and understand the client. ‘You need to find out what their frustrations and challenges are, so you can present a solution to that problem’ he says.

Be genuine

Clients do expect personal trainers to be upbeat, positive and motivating, but that doesn’t mean you need to put on an overly-zealous persona that isn’t really you. ‘I’ve always believed that it’s important to be open, honest and genuine,’ says Hart; ‘Clients will relate to people they know and like, and being genuine is a big part of that, plus you’ll build longer lasting relationships with people that way. Always aim to mirror your prospect to enable them to feel comfortable enough to open up to you about their needs.’

Have a sales script

It’s vital to have a structured, planned approach or ‘script’ to help you confidently handle initial sales-related conversations with new clients, where you run them through the programs you have to offer. ‘In our Auto-Closer sales system, which is part of our CEC accredited Accelerator program, we have a script we supply to trainers that teaches them how to have that initial conversation, whether it’s in person or on the phone, and it sets everything up so clients are ready to buy and ready to make a decision to change their life’ says Hart; ‘Ultimately, sales is solving someone’s problems and helping them realise they need to commit to a better life. By having a well thought out and well executed sales process, you are providing a service to your prospect by allowing them to fully understand their goals, drivers and motivations, while positioning you as the best person to help them achieve their goals and better their lives.’

Look the part

‘Your appearance is part of your brand and your first impression’ says Hart; ‘It’s important to dress appropriately, depending who your target market is.’ If you train corporate types over 50, for example, pants and a polo shirt or a simple but smart-looking top might work nicely, whereas if you have a younger clientele you can likely get away with more fashion-forward or experimental outfits. If you’re going to have a workout before meeting a prospective client, allow yourself enough time to shower and clean up beforehand, and always be ready five minutes early so you can meet your prospect with a smile when they arrive – because first impressions last.


Fitness Australia, the peak national industry association, provides support services and guidance to over 30,000 exercise professionals, fitness businesses and industry suppliers nationally. Get more tips and resources to help you start or grow your fitness business from Fitness Australia’s Business Toolbox at grow.fitness.org.au