// Take the lead - ensuring successful lead generation
by Amanda Bracks
Around ten years ago, when I was a membership advisor in a fitness
club, much of my time was taken up dealing with walk-in enquiries.
Asking for referrals was easy and weekly targets were hit without too
much stress. during the past decade, however, the market has changed
considerably. Personal budgets of potential prospects have become
tighter as living costs have increased, particularly over the past two
to three years, marketplace competition has increased and people are
expecting more for their money.
Lead generation, therefore, has become increasingly important and can be the difference between a health club making profit or shutting its doors. So what type of lead generation works best? It depends on your business, your staff and your member demographic, but generally speaking, a range of activities is usually most effective at ensuring overall success.
A wide variety of lead generation activities exist for you to choose from; lead boxes, strategic alliances, networking with local business, referrals, telemarketing, open days, free seminars and workshops, outreach programs and corporate promotions will all bring in extra contacts and, consequently, members. it is not enough to simply rush into these things; there are a few key components to ensuring the success of lead generation:
1. Keep staff positive – this is a really important factor in determining the success of lead generation. Staff members need to be positive and professional – qualities which risk being eroded by complacency when leads do not immediately pour through the doors in response to an initiative. Lead boxes provide a good example. Staff put in the hard work by making contacts in the local community and getting permission to place the lead boxes in local businesses, and then feel disheartened when the boxes generate just three to five leads initially each week. You need to help them see the bigger picture. If they have five lead boxes out, each generating five leads per week, that’s 25 leads per week or 1,300 leads per year! with a good enquiry-to-prospect conversion rate, this can equate to around 455 memberships per year, making the legwork well worth the effort!
2. Build quality relationships – the sales team needs to be disciplined to ensure that relationships with your strategic alliances and lead box outlets are established quickly and regularly maintained. Quality contact with the strategic alliances needs to occur once or twice a week to keep the relationship strong and ensure opportunities are maximised throughout the year. the company working with your business needs to know what is in it for them and, most importantly, should appreciate similar reciprocal opportunities to increase their business rather than simply get a free membership. There is a lot more value in building strategic alliances by focusing on their business and working out how you can most effectively help each other.
3. Think outside the square – Lead generation activities can be set up in a wide range of locations, including staff lunch rooms, sporting clubs, local businesses, within your town centre and at local schools and fetes. Prospecting can be fun as well as productive, and the
more fun you make it for the staff the better results they will have.
4. Keep the momentum – When talking with club owners about various lead generation options, I often hear the phrase ‘we used to do this’ and ‘we used to do that’ followed by the admission that the ideas in question actually worked quite well for them. When asked why
they stopped the initiatives, they usually reply that they cannot remember. The problem is that we simply get bored and change things for the sake of it, or give a staff member a project which gets forgotten when they leave their position. In this way, the lead generation momentum is stopped. Lead generation is all about building momentum and experience tells us that the longer we have an alliance with another business, the stronger the leads for our business. If something is working, ensure that it is kept in operation and only fix those things that are not working. By implementing comprehensive systems at the start of an initiative, you can keep track of lead generation activities; weekly reporting for example, will create the important element of accountability, and will indicate which activities are working the best and which ones are underperforming and in need of review.
5. Streamline your offers – After you have put in the hard work of setting up the lead generation activities, you need to ensure a smooth transition into the sales process. Most lead-generating activities feature some sort of trial promotion, for example a free seven-day trial pass or a free personal training session or fitness evaluation, which should have a time-limit on it. Make the current offer, e.g., ‘Join and receive three personal training sessions’ the offer for the trade in. The new prospects can take their seven-day trial pass or trade it in
for the current offer of the month. Try to keep all of your networking activity the same, and use the same offers and giveaways so that your reception and membership team are confident in handling the enquiry and won’t find themselves running around looking for information on a variety of offers. Many clubs have totally different offers for their strategic alliances and networking activity, which causes staff to get nervous and lose confidence during their presentation to the prospect. By keeping the lead generation offers simple and consistent your team can become expert at handling all enquiries and focus on the person instead of worrying about the closing procedure for numerous different promotions.
By applying these strategies to your facility’s lead generation initiatives you can increase your number of enquiries, your staff morale and your number of club memberships.
Amanda is the author of the book 'Changing Lives: A Hands on Approach to Successfully Selling Health Club Memberships'. She is also the recipient of numerous awards, including NSW Club Manager of the Year and Club of the Year, she has successfully managed clubs for 13 years and consulted to hundreds of facilities Australia-wide.
CLUB NETWORK • AUTUMN/WINTER 2009 • PP12-13