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Empower Your Gym's Sales Force to Increase Revenue

The key to helping your gym’s sales staff boost your bottom line is improved communication skills, said Jeff Houghtaling, membership director for VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa, in a recent IHRSA webinar called "Mastering the Sales Process.” 

And it starts with neuro-linguistic programming (NLP).

Establish a Rapport with Members Using NLP 

NLP reinforces what we've all heard before but don't always practice: Nonverbal communication is important. It's not just what you say that matters, but how you say it. Tone of voice and body language play a critical role.

For instance, do you sit behind a desk when meeting with a prospective member? Houghtaling said you shouldn't. Instead, sit next to them. That helps build trust.

It's also important to establish a rapport with each prospect. There's no single way to do that. You have to develop a knack for reading different personality types. Houghtaling recommended the following approach:

  • Take a genuine interest in getting to know what's important to other people. Try to understand them instead of expecting them to understand you first.
  • Pick up on the key words, favorite phrases, and manner of speaking that an individual uses, and build these aspects subtly into your own conversation. Also tailor your tone of voice and speed of talking to match theirs.
  • Notice how a person likes to handle information. Do they prefer lots of details or just the big picture? As you speak, feed back information in that individual's preferred portion size.

You'll probably have to work with your sales staff to polish these techniques. Remember: You have just seven seconds to make a good first impression.

Cash In with the Nickel Tour

When showing a prospect around your club, try to perform a quick VAK (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) analysis. In plain English, that means that most people prefer to receive information in one of three ways: by looking, listening, or touching.

It's actually pretty easy to determine someone's preference. Are they constantly looking around? Do they pause a lot, make eye contact, and concentrate on what you're saying? Do they want to try each new piece of equipment that you show them? 

Once you've figured out the best way to conduct the tour, adjust your approach accordingly. Point out more things to lookers. Talk more to listeners. Give more demos to touchers. 

Don't Be Afraid to Ask for the Sale

When the tour is over and it's time to close the sale, the key is to be confident and direct. Don't provide an easy out by being too vague ("So … what do you think?"). Instead, encourage the prospect to take action… 

"Our sign-up process is quick and easy. We can get you started in 10 minutes." 

"Which membership option is the best for your family?"

"If you decide to join today, you will benefit from…"

Remember: The prospect came to your club because they're motivated to join. It's your job to help them do it.

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