6 Steps to Improve Your Gym's Sales Process

Tighten up your gym's sales strategy with these six steps from Jeff Houghtaling, membership director for VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa.

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Looking to recruit new members to your health club? Here are a half-dozen sales tips from a recent IHRSA webinar called "Mastering the Sales Process." Share them with your sales staff, courtesy of Jeff Houghtaling, membership director for VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa.

1. Learn the prospect's name.

This isn't as obvious as it seems. If the name has an unusual spelling, be sure you know how to pronounce it (write it down phonetically if you have to). Also, don't assume that every James likes to be called Jim or every Susan likes to be called Sue.

2. Create a dedicated area for meeting with prospects.

It's easy to forget how intimidating a health club can feel to a first-time visitor. That's especially true if the visitor is self-conscious about their body image.


“Our membership lounge was designed to provide an inviting and comfortable setting for our guests. We can meet them there, build a rapport, and create a living room environment.”

Jeff Houghtaling, Membership Director

VillaSport Athletic Club and Spa

3. Perform a needs analysis.

Not everyone joins a gym for the same reason. Ask questions to determine what each prospect wants so you can figure out how to provide it. Start with something simple: "What brings you in today?" Then zero in on specifics:

  • "Do you have any friends who are members?"
  • "What do you currently do to keep healthy?"
  • "What are your fitness goals?"
  • "Have you ever had a gym membership before?" (If they say yes, try to find out why they gave it up.)

4. Use technology.

Social media strategies are so important to our members' success, we devoted an entire post to the topic. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, podcasts, videos, blogs—if your sales staff isn't actively using these tools, you're seriously behind the curve.

Houghtaling stressed that your staff should be proficient in all of these strategies, not just one or two, because different demographic groups prefer different platforms. For example, Facebook is popular among women ages 55–65, whereas millennials prefer Snapchat and Instagram.

5. Learn to overcome objections.

This is probably the hardest thing to teach your staff. "Objections are conversation starters," Houghtaling said. "They're an opportunity to learn more about what holds people back."

Ask questions that steer the conversation toward your goal rather than away from it. If a prospect says, "I can never make it to the gym," don't just say, "Why?" Instead, say, "What stops you?" That steers you toward a solution rather than a roadblock.

6. Don't abandon your new members once you've closed a sale.

"For onboarding, we have what we call a fitness concierge," Houghtaling said. "They make sure the person who's joining has a connection to the fitness advisers or personal trainers. … You definitely need someone to oversee that. Because if one person assumes another is taking care of it, people can slip through the cracks."

If your sales staff follows these six simple rules of engagement, be prepared for an influx of enthusiastic new members at your club!