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Best Practices: How to Ask Why a Member is Joining Your Club


When guests visit our clubs, we’re generally only able to scratch the surface in terms of identifying their primary motivation, because we haven’t yet had a chance to establish a rapport with them. As a result, we tend to receive superficial answers: “I was curious.” “I want to get fit!” “My friend asked me to come.”

The process of getting to the truth—the deep reason that prompted them to drop in, or, ideally, to join— starts way before you actually pose the question

First, ensure that their first contact with the club, whether it’s by phone or in person, is a pleasant, memorable experience, one that makes them feel as though, during that moment, they’re the only person in the world. You need to convey the fact that you genuinely care about them.

Then, when they walk through the club’s front door, your front desk team and membership consultant need to confirm that impression. Your front desk staff need to demonstrate that they’re caring and supportive, and your salesperson needs to regard the visitor as a true guest, not as a commission dollar.

If you follow through in this way, the prospect will gradually begin to trust you and your organization. And once a trusting relationship develops, you’ll have their permission to ask more probing questions ... but not quite yet.

In your first face-to-face conversation, when asking about them and their life, you need to show an authentic—not a feigned—interest. Once you sense that a bond has formed between the two of you, then ask, “So what brought you here today?” Do this, and I guarantee that you’ll discover the real reason why this person made the decision to visit or join your club.


Asking “Why?” and delving, discovering, the answer to that seminal question is the single most important step in the process of interesting a prospect to purchase a club membership, as well as in motivating a current member to remain one.

If you don’t know why a guest happens to be standing in front of you, or what a member wants from your club, how can you possibly meet their needs?

But, in searching for the critical answer, it’s important to understand that, in most cases, people don’t buy for logical reasons, but, rather, for emotional ones.

Their “trigger,” the factor that brought them to your door, usually is related to some significant personal experience. For example, maybe they’ve recently been short of breath, or their doctor has warned them that they’re pre-diabetic, or, on a more positive note, they simply want to look and feel better.

They didn’t walk into your club because they feel great. They walked in because, in some way, they want to improve.

You should conduct a needs analysis to set the stage for them to open up. Ask, “What brought you in today?” Ask them what they want to accomplish. Then continue to pursue the matter. “Why is that important to you? Why is that important to you now?” Peel back the layers. You may discover the cracks in their armor.

What you’re trying to get to, ultimately, is the feeling that prompted them to come in. “I want to feel confident at my job,” they may say. Or, “I want to feel secure about my health for my family.”

If you haven’t gotten to the underlying emotion—then you haven’t found the “why.”


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