// The 10 steps to business success
by Steve Jensen
Let’s start with a question; what business are we in? Many people reply ‘the fitness business’, but the correct answer is that, by way of our product and service, we are in the 'people' business.
The fitness industry is in a great place right now, with many clubs experiencing their most successful period for some time. Our ‘product’ is fast becoming an essential service as more people come to regard their training as a necessity rather than a luxury, a mode of thinking that was common until fairly recently. Fitness facilities, clubs, studios and leisure centres – and the experts who work in them to help members and clients achieve their goals – have proven their worth. Another reason that fitness is holding its own in these times is that our industry still offers very good value for money; which other type of leisure activity offers members countless hours of access to facilities and classes for 20 dollars a week? Regardless of these positives, however, the fact remains that many fitness facilities still don’t sell themselves effectively.
In my travels around the world I have noticed that one area that has not improved as dramatically as the technical aspect of our industry, is the ability to improve communication, to sell and to manage the essential data that drives businesses.
Fitness businesses place a greater emphasis on being profitable nowadays, but while some facilities now employ sales professionals to make this happen, many struggle to break away from the old way of doing things, getting caught up in explaining training equipment and touring prospective members around the facility – which in many cases gives rise to objections. The reason this happens is that by having the facilities shown to them and the activities explained, the prospective member will start to think logically, which actually slows down the buying cycle because people buy emotionally and then back up their purchase logically.
Put simply, many sales people or fitness professionals do not receive permission to begin talking about training and showcase facilities, and the ramification of doing so are objections and copious amounts of, usually unsuccessful, follow up (not the favourite activity of sales people).
To be successful in selling, the fitness professional or sales person must have the ability to effectively communicate. Because good communication, by virtue of its fluency, seems so natural, it is often taken for granted.
Consequently, employers often simply expect staff, so long as they aren’t staring at the ground and scuffing their shoes, to be able communicators. This is one of the main reasons for poor results. Many trainers and frontline teams are left out of sales training as their managers don’t feel it necessary for them to learn skills which are not, strictly, part of their job description.
Having the ability to effectively communicate is paramount in an industry that relies so heavily on team members to create a memorable and positive experience for its visitors, while also assisting sales, retention, referrals and secondary spends. But how much difference would it make to your bottom line if all members of your team knew how to recognise indirect phone enquiries and effectively put them through to the sales team? How many more personal training sessions could your facility accommodate if your trainers were effective sales communicators as well as great trainers?
How much revenue could be generated by increasing secondary spends by 10 to 15 per cent? Can you afford to miss out on three referrals for every prospect who signs with you?
Here are 10 steps to improve your sales success.
1. Install a sales culture
Creating a sales culture is crucial for any business to thrive. Not everyone needs to know how to sell, but they do need to know what is involved in the sales cycle – and how to communicate. To install a sales culture there must be buy in from management that is then reinforced regularly with training and with productive, fun and exciting meetings in which everyone is informed of the results of the business.
2. Regularly train staff in sales and communication
Many businesses claim to have teams of trained staff – but the question is, after the team is trained, when is their next training? Professionals in every field stay on top of their game by regularly attending training and updating and reinforcing their skills. Sales professionals are no different and should regularly train with a sales trainer or, at very least, practise their skills via role playing. Like the members in your gym who achieve results, training a skill-set must have regularity, as repetition is the key to effective learning. Going back to basics on an ongoing basis will garner awesome results and establish a firm base on which you can build exciting new skills.
3. Role play daily
The most successful sales professionals I have worked with have been those who love practicing and do it every day. Micro role plays – in which you practise a small part of the sales process three times every day – work incredibly well. It is highly recommended that one of the mandatory role plays for each day should be asking for payment.
4. Train all staff in DISC behaviour style communication
understanding how to distinguish behaviour styles will help sales retention and internal relationships in any business. Once understood, it is crucial that the ability toanalyse DISC (Drive, Influence, Steadiness, Compliance) behaviour types is used appropriately. When mastered, it is one of the most powerful skills you can possess – and it will make you a fortune.
5. Learn rapport skills and ensure they are used every day
Rapport skills are often misunderstood, but are essential for successful sales people. Rapport is the feeling of mutual commonality and is a skill that some people have naturally. It is also a skill that can be developed. Creating rapport is always recommended but ‘doing’ rapport will be much more effective. To use rapport effectively in selling you must ‘do’ rapport throughout the sale. This will ensure that the prospect will feel comfortable about buying from you and you will reduce objections substantially.
6. Regular ‘shopping’ of your fitness business
Inspect what you expect. I was taught this rule years ago and it has always worked.
Once sales people have been trained and have proved that they understand the skills, ask them if they would be comfortable if they were periodically shopped. If they are, you know they feel confident in their ability to use the skills; if not, role play with them and address the challenges.
7. Introduce KPIs
Simple, you can only make strategically sound business decisions if you have accurate information that helps to make your business more profitable.
Ask yourself; what is the most pressing issue for my businesses success? Is it growth in member/client numbers, increasing closing and show percentages, increasing average spend per member/client, reducing attrition or increasing retention, or staffing and operational issues?
More importantly, you need to seriously ask yourself the following questions:
• How much is it costing your business by having low tour-to-sale conversion rates?
• Did you know that if your enquiry rate stays the same or even goes down, simply by increasing your show and close rate your business would still grow?
• If your overall closing rate is 55 per cent, what is the 45 per cent lost revenue costing your business?
Calculate what you would earn if you only increased your show and closing percentages by a modest 12 per cent in this new financial year – that’s just one per cent each month. Do this calculation cumulatively – the amount will be staggering (it will also show you how much you are currently not receiving).
8. Inspect the selling and communication skills daily
Using data to drive a business is the best way to increase sales instantly. It creates what is known as the ‘Hawthorne Effect’. If you inspect the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) daily, you will see an increase in sales. I have seen this happen 100 per cent of the time when done every day. This ‘micro management’ takes discipline, and management must know how to read the data and recognise any areas that need improving with each sales person. Take steps to train or coach staff in order to rectify problem areas. Sales people and sales managers need to be very apt at micro management as senior management usually only like to use big picture numbers, known as ‘macro management’. To ensure that the sales department is productive, KPIs, show rates, closing rates and any other available data must be inspected every day.
9. Include sales and communication skills in your induction
Many owners and managers have sales people start work at their business with limited, and sometimes no, sales or communication training. This is a formula for disaster. I recommend that you always include at least three to four days of specialised sales training for new sales people, or for anyone who will be asking people to buy.
10. Undertake regular, professional sales management training
One of the most important strategies for the success of your business is ensuring you do not neglect the training of your sales manager, the person who is ultimately responsible for the income generation of the business. The sales manager needs to be continually trained and given the skills to manage and motivate his or her team to do the very best for themselves and the business. Linking personal success with the business’ success will dramatically help the sales manager create a culture in which sales people crave involvement.
Remember that the best sales person will not necessarily make the best sales manager. It is an all too common mistake for a great sales person to be promoted to a position they are unsuitable for, resulting in the loss of a great sales person and the creation of a poor sales manager. The selection of the major role in a business can make or break the business.
Remember that we are in the people business, and not just when it comes to our members and clients. Our teams, our reception and support staff, our instructors, group trainers, managers and of course our sales people all have to continually feel that they are growing and learning.
Avoid ‘selling skills complacency’ by establishing which skills need to be taught and reinforced for your team to be successful – and go back to the basics regularly. With ongoing sales team training and a clear sales and closing strategy for all your marketing campaigns, every sales opportunity can be capitalised on.
Whatever your new financial year’s goals, revisit them now with accurate strategic information and start making some income-generating decisions to elevate the profitability of your business.
Steve has been involved in the fitness industry for more than three decades. 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. A certified DISC presenter, Steve presents worldwide and was named Australian Fitness Network’s 2009 Presenter of the Year. To contact Steve Jensen or one of his expert team
members, call 0411 212200 or 02 99551500 or visit www.impact-training.net or www.nationalsalesacademy.com.au