why you need to ask for the sale again
…and how

Six out of 10 people need to be asked to buy before they purchase, yet, funnily enough, you need to ask in about four different ways to get them to actually buy, says Steve Jensen.

The fitness industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world, and as such has become highly competitive.

Whether the facility you are selling memberships for is a big club, small club or personal training studio, lead generation is critical. Without leads you won’t have a successful business as far as generating sales is concerned. But, of course, there is no point in spending thousands of dollars on generating leads unless you or your team is able to convert them into sales.

Establish the value

Fitness is not expensive. To join a club isn’t a huge monetary burden in comparison to other bills we unthinkingly pay. Similarly, to attend a club can be anywhere from $10 to $30 per week – not a big expense in the scheme of things. It is important to highlight this to prospective clients when reminding them that the service we provide offers immediately tangible benefits in the form of endorphins and sociability, and longer term benefits of fat loss, muscle hypertrophy and improved physical and mental wellbeing. It is also critical that every salesperson believes in the value of the product they are selling, as authenticity in a salesperson will make them feel much more comfortable about asking a client to purchase more than once.

Ask and you shall receive

You cannot, however, simply present the value of your product or service and expect prospects to buy. You need to learn how to ‘ask for the sale’ – repeatedly. When the sales process is not followed properly, clients will fall back on objection. Ironically, salespeople often inadvertently supply the objection. Let’s get one thing clear: when a prospect gives you an objection – a reason not to proceed – you must ask for the sale again.

The selling cycle

There are eight steps in the selling cycle, the first one being prospecting. You need to be sure that the lead generation is strong, i.e. that the lead has been created with someone who has a desire to buy. Gone are the days of just asking for a person’s name and phone number in exchange for a free visit. Basically, if the prospect sees themself reaching their desired result at your club, they desire your business. If not, they are not a strong lead.

The second step is initial contact. As soon as you open your mouth, you are going into qualification (which is 80 per cent of the sale) and are closing.

  1. Prospecting
  2. Initial contact
  3. Qualification
  4. Touring
  5. Price presentation
  6. Overcoming objections and asking for the sale again
  7. Close start
  8. Referrals.

Secondary spend

After you qualify somebody you need to make sure that the tour of the club, the explanation, the experience or the trial for the personal training session is compelling and inspiring. It is strongly recommended that if you want to ask for the sale successfully, you always include an offer for a secondary spend at the beginning and end of the sale. If you’re a personal trainer, include a nutritional secondary spend, and if you’re selling club membership, offer personal training or group training as an add-on. This may sound like odd advice, asking a prospect to buy two services before they have even committed to one, but by doing so, committing to the primary spend (membership) will seem like a no-brainer.

Secondary spend also makes it easier to ask for money at the end of the process. Why? Because you are telling your potential clients the things they can do when they are a member, and encouraging them to confirm their appreciation of the benefits of these services. If they say ‘yes’ to personal training and ‘yes’ to help with nutrition, it means that the primary spend is already taken care of, allowing you to effectively ask for the sale in three or four different ways. If you have to take out some of the ‘goodies’ (e.g. the personal training) to fit their restrictions, you’ve still met them half way and both parties are happy.

Options for closing

The next thing we need to get comfortable with is making sure we have more than one way to close. First, we need to close with ‘how would you like to take care of that/ fix it up/look after that?’ Don’t ever ask anyone how they want to pay. This just gives rise to potential objection (remember what I said about salespeople inadvertently suggesting reasons to say no?). Sometimes clients won’t want to pay right away, and this is where you need to have a sub-close.

Consider the following:

You: ‘OK, how would you like to take care of it, savings or credit?’

Client: ‘Credit’

You: ‘I’ll take care of it now, let’s get you ready for your holiday.’

Client: ‘Do I have to pay now?’

You: (smiling) ‘Of course! The most important thing is that you get ready for your holiday. C’mon, let’s do this’

This last bit is you asking for the sale again, without actually posing a question. The intent is to be almost surprised that they wouldn’t sign up now. An ineffective response to the question ‘Do I have to pay now?’ would be to say that, no, actually they can pay later. Another common mistake, if there is a saving involved, is to go right into the logical conversation and say, ‘Oh yes, you’ll miss out on the saving if you don’t get it today.’ Nothing is as effective as reiterating the prospect’s goal. If you close with the financial, the person will start to think logically, not emotionally, and the latter is the state of mind in which sales are made. Remember: if you’re uncomfortable talking about finances to prospects, they will be too.

The last 20 per cent

There are countless offerings in the fitness marketplace – so when someone comes into your facility to discuss becoming a member, it’s more than a casual enquiry: they are almost over the line. If they have bothered to turn up, the sale is 80 per cent closed. In order to close the remaining 20 per cent, you must make sure that you have enough rapport for them to be open and honest with you, and that you give them some information they aren’t aware of that will inspire them.

Why do you need to do this? By this stage the prospect has decided that they want to join a fitness facility, but if you can’t help them decide that your club is their first choice, the chance of them going to a competitor is high. If you’ve done a decent job of presenting your facility and services, but your closing is poor, then you’ve done all the hard work for the opposition. That is, you’ve galvanised their resolve to become a gym member, but perhaps with a competitor who is better able to close and ask for the sale.

This means you must be good at asking for the sale again – and providing answers to prospects’ additional questions. I’ll say it again: objections are usually created by the salesperson, but more importantly they are usually just an area of concern and a cry for help rather than an insurmountable obstacle. Always remember: if they are standing in front of you, they have a strong desire for what you offer. If they turn up, they are 80 per cent sold.

The write price

It is strongly recommended that you do not use an auditory price presentation as part of your closing strategy. If you want to be able to ask for the sale again, your price presentation must be written and/or printed.

Confirm value

One way to maximise sales opportunities is to confirm value by using rapport to find the compelling reason to buy (their 'pain' or their 'agitator') and to present your product as the solution. Value is not price: value is giving people what they want, and then exceeding their expectations.

Offer price alternatives

Once you have delivered a good presentation, offered secondary spend options and confirmed value, you have the opportunity to close. Remember the importance of providing options, this time in the form of an alternative price:

You: ‘Do you want A or B?’… ‘It’s B is it? Great, I’ll take care of it now. Let’s get you ready for your holiday.’

Client: ‘Do I have to pay now?’

You: (smiling) ‘Yes, of course! You’ll not only save yourself $100, you’ll be on your way to being ready for your holiday. OK, let’s do it.’

The ‘if’ strategy

If another objection arises you can use the ‘if strategy’: IHP (isolate, hypothetically eliminate, proceed). This gives you the ability to ask what the objection is, and ask for the sale again. If the person comes up with an objection, you should say ‘I can understand that.’ This is certainly not ‘I agree with you’, but it shows that you are not dismissing their objection.

‘I understand that, some people do have an (objection). Now if it wasn’t for (objection), is there any other reason that you wouldn’t get started straight away to achieve (result)?’ They will more than likely answer ‘no’.

‘OK, let’s get creative about (objection)’ You’ll then do what you have to do, whether that be talking to a manager about the price (see below), or creating a PT schedule to suit their availability, and come back to them with the solution:

You: ‘Well, that solves that now, doesn’t it?’ You must say these words because it confirms the objection is gone. Then you must ask for the sale again. ‘Well, all we have to do now is a little bit of paperwork. How do you want to take care of that? Savings, credit…?’

Client: ‘Credit’

You: ‘OK, I’ll look after that. Now, let’s get you ready for your holiday.’

Attitude adjustment changes decision-making

In the psychology of decision making, people will make a different decision if they have a change of attitude. Attitude adjustment changes decision-making. For example, say you’ve been eating a pastry every morning for breakfast, and perhaps don’t notice the effect it has on your body. But then you find out that sugar is damaging to your body and saps your energy. You suddenly notice the effect, and your choice of breakfast. This information causes a shift in attitude, which affects your decisions about what you put in your body. The way to use attitude adjustment is simple:

Client: ‘Oh, it’s a lot of money, I’m not sure I want to pay that’ (objection).

You: ‘Look, I can understand that, it’s an investment of money and that’s not always easy. But let’s just talk hypothetically for a moment. What would happen if it worked? You’ve lost the weight, you’re looking great for your holiday. Would it be worth it?’ There will likely be a pause here.

Client: ‘Yes’.

You: ‘OK, well what are we waiting for? Let’s do it.’

They’re now not thinking about the expense, they’re thinking about the high value of achieving their fitness goal. This changes attitude, and removes doubt from their head. They are actually thinking about the possibility of success.

The Higher Authority close

When it comes to asking for the sale again, the 'higher authority' close still has a role. This is an age-old technique, but it’s often performed clumsily. The way you should do this is to make sure you don’t get out of your chair to check with a higher authority until you get confirmation that the person wants to go ahead with the investment or purchase. So it goes something like this:

‘This is a little bit out of the ordinary and I’ll need to check with my manager. If I can get him/her to agree on this we’ll get you started, OK?’

If they agree to this, you go, come back, sit down and say you’ve had a chat and the good news is that they are a member. You’ve now concluded by saying they are a member even before they’ve paid the money, because subconsciously they have purchased. You’ve asked for the sale again, but in a different manner.

Asking again, after an unsuccessful meeting

So, what if, after all of this, your prospect still doesn’t become a member during their visit? Gone are the days of endless follow ups. You really only have one or two opportunities to get them to buy.

Usually a lead will be ‘hot’ for about seven to 10 days from their initial contact with the club (via email or telephone), to their decision. If they have not become a member after you meet with them, therefore, you only have a small window of opportunity to contact them again while joining a club is still prominent in their mind. After this, the lead is ‘warm’ for the next three months – if they have not made a decision in this time, they’re probably not going to. It’s your mission, therefore, to ensure you ask for the sale again. It’s not badgering, it’s your job to help them achieve their stated goal of improved fitness and wellbeing. The following process can be used with prospects who don’t sign up during an appointment at your club.

CBA – Create the relationship; Build the trust; Ask them to buy

Most sales people don’t like doing follow up, particularly after the ‘best’ opportunity to sell (the face to face meeting) has proved fruitless. And people who know the prices but haven’t purchased will not be swayed by a follow up call unless you have new information to give them. It is advisable, therefore, to have an auto-responder system in place that starts ‘creating the relationship’ by emailing them some great new information immediately after their visit. Two weeks later the auto-responder system will ‘build the trust’ by emailing a complimentary video or app. After another two weeks the auto-responder will email them, noting that they haven’t got started yet, and sending them a ‘try before you buy’ or ‘four days for four dollars’ – something to get them back in the club at no expense to them.

If this technique brings them back into your club, you need an appropriate closing strategy. I strongly recommend that conditions apply regarding the complimentary use of your club: they need to fill in paperwork to make them a member for the offered period of time. Then tell them that if they still don’t want to join after the trial period, the paperwork will be torn up. If they decline to fill in the paperwork, you need to revoke the membership offer, and give them one or two days ‘on you’ instead.

In other words, an electronic medium has allowed you to contact the person and rekindle the opportunity. You’ve now offered them a taste of your club and you just want to know their intention. Ask them if they like the club and can see themselves achieving their desired fat loss there. If they say yes, ask them to buy. If they resist, tell them the way the promotion works is to complete a little bit of paperwork to be a member.

After they have filled in the paperwork, give them a ‘quality guarantee’ in the form of a paper certificate that says, for example, that if the deal is seven days long and they want to end it at day five, they can have their paperwork torn up and will still be able to use the last two days if they change their mind. You don’t want your sales technique to ever resemble sour grapes at not getting them to sign up. It also allows you to ask for the sale again at the end of the trial time.

In today’s marketplace it is important to ask prospects to purchase. Six out of 10 people need you to do that, and yet, funnily enough, you need to ask them in about four different ways to get them across the line.

To wrap up, here’s one final useful piece of advice. Throughout the sales cycle you can increase the prospect’s perceived value of your service by asking a simple question: ‘I know you want (goal), but WHY is this important to you?’ They will provide this information, but you need to ask the question again! ‘But, why is it important to you NOW?’ When they give you this answer, it magnifies the value of your offering, meaning that you won’t have to ask for the sale over and over again because they will be compelled to buy.

Steve Jensen
Steve has been involved in the fitness industry for more than two 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 and the creator of the Public Speaking and Presentation Mastery courses, in 2009 Steve was named Australian Fitness Network’s Presenter of the Year. Visit www.impact-training.net for more information or call 02 9955 1500.