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Hints on how to make sales staff good, not lucky

It is never a good practice to rely on luck. Because, as most know, the chances for success are then extremely low.

This week's Best Practices poses the question of how one can get their sales staff to be good rather than lucky. They would like to know how they can get them and "make it happen."

Read on to see what Alan Leach and Chezare Misko have for answers to this quandary. 

Q: How can I train my sales staff to rely less on luck, and, instead, go out there and make it happen?

A: As with any retail sales business, you need three things in order to be successful: a strong sales culture, constant sales training, and excellent sales management.

In a strong sales culture, everyone - including owners, managers, and staff - is fully aware of and willing to support sales activities. Developing such a culture takes time.

First, hire people who want to be good at sales; attempting to turn individuals with no interest in sales into great salespeople simply won’t work. The ideal candidate will have a keen interest in and good knowledge of fitness, the ability to communicate the benefits of regular exercise, and the desire to learn about membership sales.

Next, make sales training part of your business model, and provide ongoing training that never ends. Bring in sales trainers; there are many with decades of experience who’ve worked with some of the most successful club chains.

Be sure to expect a learning curve - becoming a membership sales “star” doesn’t happen overnight.

You’ll also want to compile a library of sales books and DVDs, including those produced by IHRSA, which aren’t expensive. The staff that enjoys using them will be your stars.

Of course, all of this is useless unless the concepts and ideas are fully implemented. That’s why a professional membership sales manager or a sales-focused general manager is essential. Be willing to pay for their valuable contribution.

In the final analysis, your general manager should be your best salesperson. Their guidance and influence is key to creating a strong sales culture. 

Alan Leach
Group Manager
West Wood Clubs
Dublin, Ireland, and Sarajevo, Bosnia

A: My best advice, if you want your staff to succeed at sales, is to seize the opportunity to position your business as the go-to fitness resource in your community.

In doing so, focus on four key areas - local businesses, healthcare providers, schools, and your own in-club programming.

For local companies, offer free on-site seminars to educate their employees about the benefits of exercise and how it can improve their performance at work. Offer attractive corporate membership programs.

In the case of healthcare providers, partner with them to develop a referral network and joint marketing plan. Create programs that connect with or complement the programs or services they already provide, e.g., post-cancer rehab, post-cardiac rehab, etc. To work with healthcare providers successfully, you have to demonstrate the benefits for them.

Work with schools to provide students with information on health and wellness, and offer to serve as the strength and conditioning resource for their athletic teams and programs.

Offer a variety of free programs to expose non-members to your club; these should address broad topics, such as stress reduction, smoking cessation, reducing low-back pain, etc.

Efforts such as these, which connect you with your community, are likely to present your sales staff with a large number of high-quality leads.

I’d also suggest analyzing your sales staff’s compensation to make sure it’s congruent with your focus and expectations; and be sure to offer strong incentives for your people to go off-site to sell memberships. 

Chezare Misko
Wisconsin Athletic Clubs, Inc.
West Allis, Wisconsin


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