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Entries in training salespeople (8)


Implement a Professional Sales System to Grow Health Club Memberships

Through its digital marketing strategies, West Wood Club’s website generates 990 leads a month—but those leads are worth nothing if they’re not converted into memberships. 

And the best way to turn leads into members? Implementing a professional sales system. 

“The best investment you’ll ever make in a fitness club is to invest in a professional sales system,” Alan Leach, regional manager of the Dublin, Ireland club. “If you’re having difficulty growing memberships, find a professional sales trainer or have someone on your staff who can go through that training […] It will be invaluable to you.” 

Leach took IHRSA Institute attendees through his club’s proven strategies during his Thursday, August 4 session, “Sales Management.” To start, he outlined the top three sales tasks:  

  1. Generate leads for your fitness business
  2. Convert leads into tours of your fitness business
  3. Convert tours into members of your fitness business  

West Wood Clubs uses integrated marketing strategies to generate leads, from search engine marketing to direct mail campaigns. And once the leads are recorded in their database, it’s up to the highly trained sales team to guide the leads through the buyer’s journey. 

Each West Wood Club sales team member goes through a rigorous training process:  

  • Full day: How to sell 70% of all tours
  • Full day: How to convert 70% of enquiries to tours
  • Three full days: Sales role play
  • Full day: How to do sales prospecting 

As a result of their marketing strategies and finely tuned sales process, West Wood Club’s website nets 56,000 visits a month, which the sales team generated into 3,992 memberships in 2015, resulting in $8.4 million.


April 14 Webinar: Sales Training for Personal Trainers Who Don’t Like to Sell

Personal trainers don’t choose their career to become salespeople, but—like it or not—they must be involved in the sales process in order to foster a successful personal training program. 

“The biggest [barrier] is that personal trainers think of ‘sales’ as a dirty word,” says Michele Melkerson-Granryd, general manager for BB Fitness Studios in Austin, TX. 

In her Thursday, April 14 webinar, “Sales Training for Trainers Who Don’t Like to Sell,” Melkerson-Granryd will explain how health club operators can encourage their personal trainers to get involved in the sales process in a palatable way. Personal trainers often assume that sales involves approaching members mid-workout, but, today, there are more effective and comfortable ways for them to promote their services.

“They might not be your direct personal training salesperson, but they’re definitely part of that process and they need to have their head in the right place,” she says. “It does need to be part of their mindset that they are really selling themselves every time they are in the club.” 

In the hour-long webinar, Melkerson-Granryd will help attendees: 

  • Gain insight into the psychology of your staff and clients.
  • Learn how to change the perception of “sales."
  • Explore how to generate leads and referrals.
  • Review easy sales techniques and scripts to share with your trainers.
  • Discover the importance of relationship building. 

Webinar attendees will gain “techniques to retrain the trainers’ perception of their position in the sales process, and what they can do to increase the comfort of their position in that sales process,” she says.

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IHRSA 2016 Session Spotlight: Proven Strategies to Sell Personal Training

A thriving personal training program can yield significant revenue, but many health clubs struggle to master the sales process.

That’s because traditional personal training sales methods often create several barriers, says Steve Satin, president and founder of Satin Wellness, who will present “Strength to Sell: Proven Strategies to Sell Personal Training” at IHRSA 2016 in Orlando.

Common Barriers to Selling Personal Training

Health clubs often rely on their front desk team, membership team, and personal trainers to sell personal training—an approach that can be detrimental to the sales process.

“Generally, the front desk team and the membership team are focused on bringing in new members—that’s their job—and it’s not as focused on selling personal training—it could even feel like overselling to a prospective or new member,” Satin says. “Many personal trainers are in this business because they love to work with clients and assist them in reaching their goals. Very few enjoy selling the personal training to members—they often feel uncomfortable or even pushy.”

Boost Revenue by Educating Staff

To overcome those barriers, health club operators should educate staff members about the best ways to promote personal training in their specific touch point. Each of the three member touch points has different role to play in the personal training sales process.

“The front desk team is a great place to ask appropriate questions, the membership team can easily provide the option of personal training to an enthusiastic new member, and the personal training team can absolutely sell once they learn an approach that is focused on the best interest of the member,” Satin says. “Increased personal training revenue comes from building the comfort and confidence of the entire club team on exactly how to navigate the sales conversation with a member.”  

Convention-goers who attend “Strength to Sell” on Monday, March 21 in Orlando will leave the session with proven sales skills to increase their personal training business.  

“They will team up to practice with actual case studies and leave with a real-world approach that works for their members and their staff,” Satin says. “They will leave with confidence, comfort, and the motivation to get started right away.”

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Learn How to Sell More Memberships at IHRSA 2016

If you need to buff up on your sales skills or become an expert at digital marketing, be sure to join thousands of the world’s top fitness marketers and sales experts who will meet at IHRSA 2016 to share ideas on how health clubs can sell more memberships.

In addition to the keynote presentation from marketing guru Jay Baer (sponsored by SPRI), author of the New York Times bestseller, “Youtility: Smart Marketing is About Help, Not Hype,” we’ve got an impressive lineup of Membership Sales & Marketing focused education sessions that’ll help you sell, sell, sell.

Here’s a snapshot:

  • “Sales Management Secrets: Proven Strategies that Maximize Your Profits”
  • “Building a Winning Sales Culture”
  • “Selling for the Non-Sales Person”
  • “Precision Marketing: Proven & Profitable Advertising Strategies”
  • “New Media Marketing”
  • “Tips for Generating Membership Sales Leads”
  • Cross-Channel Marketing in the Digital Age

And there’s even more—this is only a partial listing of IHRSA 2016 sessions. Check out the full schedule at

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‘Master the Sales Process’ with IHRSA’s December 3 Webinar

Join Jeff Houghtaling, membership director for VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa, as he presents IHRSA’s latest webinar, "Master the Sales Process," on Thursday, December 3 at 2 p.m. EST.

"I believe that seasoned and new sales advisors continue to struggle with knowing when to ask for the sale," Houghtaling says. "I also believe that sales advisors fear stepping outside their comfort zones and become stuck on current business practices while ignoring new opportunities to increase their sales efforts."

He will address those barriers and more during the hour-long presentation. Houghtaling will also draw on his 20-plus years of industry experience to advise health club operators on how to:

  • Build rapport with your prospects and members.
  • Review your current sales process and discover what’s not working.
  • Acquire new ideas to integrate and improve your sales process.
  • Discover the benefit of adding NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) into your sales presentation.
  • Obtain basic communication tools that will empower your sales force and their relationships with members; and learn how to determine what your prospects are in search of.
  • Negotiate and close the sale.

Attendees will come away with "new ideas and strategies to make them better communicators," Houghtaling says. "My hope is that the presentation will introduce easily integrative concepts that will improve the attendees relationships inside and outside their clubs."

IHRSA 2016 Register Now


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



Help sales staff go from 'good' to 'great'

Image courtesy of mrsiraphol/FreeDigitalPhotos.netEveryone wants their sales staff to be top-notch. But that just doesn't fall into your lap.

The right people, proper training, picking a sales style and then believing in the club's mission are key components. But, how do you get all of that in everyone in the sales department?

Kate Coy, Karen Raisch-Siegel and Darren Kanwischer answer that question in Best Practices.

Q: How do you get your sales people to go from good performance to great performance?

A: For us, the move from good to great was not easy. First, we needed professional training for our sales leader. I had her choose the training, as there are a variety of sales styles and the sales person has to find the right one that best fits who they are. Second, we needed the right team. We hired staff that is passionate about fitness and our facility. We required excellent customer service skills, but not sales experience. The sales leader works with them and trains them with a strong emphasis on role play.

Karen Raisch-Siegel
Executive Director
LifeWorks of Southwest General
Middleburg Heights, Ohio

Time and energy invested in selecting sales staff is critical. Those hired need to care about people and understand what makes each individual unique, and those qualities can’t be trained. They need to know how to connect with prospects: sincerely asking questions to understand their unique needs and showing how we can address those needs. You can spend a lot of time and energy - even with great systems and training - trying to get mediocre sales people to move to great performance, but you might have to “change the roster” to actually achieve it!

Darren Kanwischer
Fifth Avenue Club  
Calgary, Alberta, Canada

I don't believe in "sales" or "salespersons." I believe in fostering relationships. If you can use the right people to foster the right relationships, you'll never again lose sleep over membership numbers. The most difficult step in accomplishing this task is finding the right people. I never hire for "sales" experience - the number one question I consider when making a hiring decision is "how likable is this person?". How often do they smile? Would I purchase something from them?  Attitude is sales. If you or your team lacks this most basic element, you cannot expect great performance.  
Kate Coy
Anytime Fitness   
Cottage Grove, Ore.



Salespeople or Educators?

Alan Leach, Chez Misko, and Brad Wilkins discuss educating a culture about exercise:

Q: “Unlike the western world, Here in Pakistan, our market is not receptive and/or educated about health and fitness. We're struggling to raise awareness about health and fitness, but we're also having trouble adopting off-the-shelf sales techniques and tools (closing techniques, etc.) mentioned in common resources. How can my club rely less on walk-in customers? In other words, how can I train my sales staff to rely less on luck and more on going out there and making it happen?”

A: Like Pakistan now, the Western world once had a market that was not receptive or educated about health and fitness. And many clubs were extremely successful back then.

John McCarthy of IHRSA says the health club business is a “retail sales business”. And just like any retail sales business you need 3 things to be successful.

  • A strong sales culture.
  • Regular sales training.
  • Excellent sales management.
And you need them all.

"When you find staff with the right potential – train them. And never stop training them."
A strong sales culture means everybody from owners, managers, and staff are fully aware and willing to support all sales activities. Developing a strong sales culture is not easy. And it will take time (maybe years) but it will be worth it.

The first thing you need to do is look for staff who want to be good at sales. Attempting to turn staff who have no interest in selling into great sales people will not work. The ideal candidates for sales will have:
  • Good fitness knowledge.
  • Excellent ability to communicate the benefits of fitness.
  • Keen interest in health and fitness.
  • Strong desire to learn about membership sales.
When you find staff with the right potential – train them. And never stop training them. Becoming a membership sales ‘star’ does not happen overnight. There is a long learning curve. And that’s why you must make sales training a major part of your business model.

Another way to foster a sales culture is to build a library of sales books and tapes for yourself, your managers and your staff. Get books by Brian Tracey, Zig Ziglar, Jeffrey Gitomer, Harry Beckwith, Tom Hopkins. And again, look for staff who enjoy reading them. These staff will be your future stars.

And when you get a star sales person – PAY THEM. I have a sales person bringing me in €1.8 MILLION a year. He left his last job because the club receptionist was earning more than him.

Bring in sales trainers. In the US you have sales trainers with decades of experience working with some of the most successful health club chains. Ed Tock, Doug Miller, Karen Woodard, Brenda Abdilla, Jim Smith, Mike Chaet. Buy sales DVDs from IHRSA. These are not expensive.

Of course, all the sales training, sales videos, and sales seminars will be useless all the ideas are fully implemented. And that’s where a professional membership sales manager or sales focused General Manager is vital. But you must be willing to pay for this.

In a club with less than a 2,000 members your General Manager should be your best sales person. This will build a strong sales culture. And contrary to common belief a strong sales culture will also be the seed for a strong service culture.

Alan Leach, Director of Sales & Marketing
West Wood Leopardstown

A: I would seize the opportunity to be the health and fitness resource in your community. Here are four key areas to focus on when you begin the process of educating your community.
  1. Businesses – Offer free on-site seminars to educate employees about the benefits of exercise and how it improves their performance at work. Create corporate memberships programs.
  2. Health Care Providers- Partner with the local health care providers to create a referral network and joint marketing plan. Create programs that compliment or connect to programs or services they offer such as post-cancer rehab or post-cardiac rehab, etc. You have to show health care providers “what’s in it for me?” to be successful.
  3. Schools- Work with the local schools to provide students with information on health and wellness education. Be the strength and conditioning resource for athletic teams/programs.
  4. In-club Programming- Offer various free programs to expose your club to non-members. Tie these programs to non-fitness related topics such as reducing low back pain, reducing stress, smoking cessation, etc.
These items connect you into the community and can present your sales staff with a large number of quality leads.

I would also suggest analyzing your sales staff's compensation to make sure it is congruent with your focus and staff expectations. Make sure that you offer incentives to your staff to go off-site and sell.

Good Luck!

Chezare Misko, Vice President of Operations
Wisconsin Athletic Club, Inc.

A: The first thing to realize is that it’s not just about having good techniques and tools to make sales; and its also not about having luck. It’s about having a functional sales system/process with the right people and training in place to allow the club’s value proposition to prosper. As leaders in our organizations it’s our responsibility to:
  1. Develop systems that support our core business ideology. Every business has an identity, and it’s important that every employee understands the company’s purpose and participates in delivering the message consistently to the consumer. The systems you create need to support your company’s ideology.
  2. Implement these systems effectively to our employees. Once you develop the system you must train the staff to execute it. The employee on-boarding process and continuing professional development are critical components for long term success; because, this is where the company’s expectations are set and reinforced.
  3. Ensure the systems integrity is maintained. As leaders we must put in place accountability measures to make sure we get the results we are expecting.
With the right system in place your sales team will not only understand their role and responsibilities better; but be empowered to exploit the system to its full potential.

Brad C. Wilkins, MBA, Assistant General Manager
Commercial Club Consultant
Cooper Fitness Center, A Cooper Aerobics Company