// Selling with emotion

Emotional selling is an essential skill and can be used with most products and services as an effective way to make the sales process smoother and more enjoyable, writes fitness sales guru Amanda Bracks.

Consider the experience of buying a new car. The customer can touch the car, test drive it, experience the strength of the engine, feel the softness of the seats, smell the leather upholstery, and choose their colour, trim and accessories, enabling a real sense of ownership before the purchase is made. They can even see themselves in the mirror sitting in the car – it is an instant reward if they buy.

Compare this with the delayed gratification that comes with purchasing fitness: buy now and be rewarded in four to 12 weeks time – or longer. In our industry many sales transactions are based around the price of a membership, and can therefore be awkward for both the member of staff doing the selling and the prospective customer. Selling the benefits of fitness or personal training is a non-tangible: you can’t touch it and the customer has little interaction during the sales process. In fact, they are essentially engaging in a purchase of something they don’t really want to do – exercise. They just want the results.

By adding emotion to the sales process, staff can develop the skills to make the sales process seamless. The following emotional selling techniques will help your team turn more prospects into members:

  1. Use the customer’s name. Unbelievably, sales and reception staff still need to be taught to use the customer’s name. Out of the past 20 mystery phone calls made to multiple facilities, only two people asked for the name of the caller. Asking your customer’s name is the first step in building rapport and trust, enabling them to connect and share with you what their problem is and why they need your help.

  2. Ask lots of questions to determine needs. If someone walks into a facility without a proper needs analysis, they will find it difficult to make a purchasing decision: if the sales person doesn’t address a real emotional need to make the purchase, the prospect has the harder task of making a purely logical decision. People buy emotionally and justify logically, so ensure there is an adequate and specific questioning process in place to enable the person to connect with your business and services emotionally.

  3. Create leverage. The sales process is like a balancing act. When a person enters your facility you can assume the scales are relatively balanced between money and needs. You need to ensure there is enough leverage for the person to buy your services to warrant the investment of the money. By establishing an emotional need to correspond with every goal the prospect may have, as in Table 1 below, you can make the interaction personal and meaningful. To enable change, staff must ask questions that will help the prospect reveal their needs and feelings, and to verbalise why they need the services of your club. Using the questions ‘What is going on with that?’, ‘Tell me about that’ and ‘How does that make you feel?’ can help prospects open up.

    Table 1: Matching goals with needs
    Basic goals Emotional need
    Weight loss ‘Lose 15 kilos - sick of not being able to wear dresses’
    Gain energy ‘Feel tired at 3pm every afternoon’
    Gain strength ‘Gain strength in my upper body as grocery shopping is hard’
    Increase flexibility ‘Improve flexibility as its painful getting out of bed in the morning’
    Toning ‘Need to shape stomach and thighs, they feel ugly and flabby in jeans’
    Improve fitness ‘Sick of feeling puffed and tired playing with the kids’
    Rehabilitation ‘To strengthen a very painful knee that prevents me from doing things’
    Stress release ‘Get rid of stress – sick of being grumpy and snapping at the kids’

    Targeting a prospect’s emotional needs rather than their basic goals will elicit emotion, giving them a solid motivation to get started on their fitness journey and making the price presentation process easier for staff.

  4. Listen actively with the eyes and the heart. When gaining leverage and asking questions, ensure you listen to how the prospect talks and observe what their actions and body language are saying. Listen with your heart and your eyes, as well as your ears. Process what they have said and how they have said it, taking notes and repeating back to the customer what your understanding of their needs is, and providing them with solutions to any problems they discuss.

  5. Avoid an early rescue. During the question stage, refrain from ‘rescuing’ the prospect by telling them you have a wonderful range of services to help them. Allow them to fully articulate their fears and their concerns, and then solve their problems with a membership/training package. The decision the prospect will be making at this stage is which option suits them or which payment option to do, not whether or not they want to join your facility or use your services. This means they are in a totally different mindset going into the price presentation stage.

By adopting these fundamental elements of emotional selling, your team can create an easier and more effective sales process that turns more prospects into members.

Join Amanda for her sessions at FILEX 2012 where she will be expanding upon the topic of emotional selling as well as exploring the secrets of success for women in the fitness industry.

  • Emotional selling ● A4C
  • The secrets of successful women in fitness, Panel discussion ● B3B

For more information on Amanda’s sessions see pages 18 and 19 of the printed brochure with your Summer Network magazine, or check out the fully interactive site at www.filex.com.au where you can also register for the convention or the all-inclusive Business Gold Pass package.


Amanda Bracks
The founder of Women in Fitness, director of Bracks Consulting, and author of Changing Lives and Inspiration, Amanda is Australia’s leading expert in membership growth. She has consulted to thousands of fitness facility owners and staff on sales, customer service, leadership, retention, marketing and business development. For more information visit www.bracksconsulting.com