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Sell More Gym Memberships by Uncovering People's Needs

No two membership pitches should be alike. Learn how to identify prospects' needs and craft tailored-made tours that are sure to close.

Most of the time, it’s good to take a systematic approach to business. Think about the systems you have in place at your gym. Without them, chances are your equipment would fall into disrepair, your staff would receive inconsistent training, and you might never pay the bills on time.

But, while most systems keep your club running smoothly, there’s one area where the one-size-fits-all approach actually harms your business: membership sales.

“Too many people fall into an approach where every person is treated the same,” says Chris Stevenson, owner of Stevenson Fitness in Oak Parks, CA. “Systems are important, but they fail to deliver that uniqueness the prospect is looking for.”

Instead of giving the same sales pitch to every prospect, focus on tailoring unique experiences, says Stevenson, who will present “Solution-based Selling: Making Sales Easy by Uncovering People’s Needs” at IHRSA 2018.

Sales Stevenson Members Column

Building Rapport with Prospects

Before you can determine how to deliver a unique pitch for prospects, you first have to build a rapport with them. This can be tricky since most prospects aren’t avid exercisers and may be coming to you with unspoken insecurities.

“The majority of people who come into a fitness center or health club are not excited,” Stevenson says. “They’re coming in skeptical and insecure…and they’re walking directly into a new environment where they know people will try to sell to them.”

To combat this, make sure your first impression creates a welcoming experience. If the prospect’s first interaction will be at reception, train those staff members to welcome them warmly. Your first impression should reinforce that coming into your gym was a good decision, Stevenson says.

Another way to build rapport and put prospects at ease is through personality mirroring. If your sales person is high energy, a shyer prospect may be put off by a bold, loud interaction. Train your sales staff to tone-down or amp-up their approach depending on the client.

“Too many people fall into an approach where every person is treated the same. Systems are important, but they fail to deliver that uniqueness the prospect is looking for.”

Chris Stevenson, Owner

Stevenson Fitness, Oak Parks, CA

Identify Each Prospect’s Needs

Once you’ve built a rapport with the prospect, it’s time to identify what they need by gaining an understanding of what really brought them to your gym.

Ask questions. Why did they choose your facility? Did they just move to the area? Did they dislike their last health club? Are they trying to make a lifestyle change? What goals are they trying to achieve?

“As you get to know them and really dig, you might find out they’re out of shape or they just got their blood-work from the doctor and their cholesterol is high,” Stevenson says. “We find out what really brought them in and find the best solution. The might need an appointment with a trainer or to enroll in small group training.”

Creating a Benefits-driven Tour

Now that you understand why the prospect is considering your gym, you may be tempted to show them the amenities and equipment your facility has to offer; however, while a comprehensive tour should show off your best features, the focus should remain on the prospect and their needs.

“The days of [showcasing] state-of-the-art or cutting edge [equipment] are kind of over,” Stevenson says. “You can get a Peloton bike in your basement.”

Sales Stevenson Exterior Column

Instead, as you tour a prospect you should relate everything back to their goal, focusing on the benefits of different aspects of your club.

For example, if the prospect is aiming to lose weight, show them your all of your different cardio equipment options. You can mention that each piece of equipment has cable TV and internet access so that time spent exercising will fly by, but don’t make the bells and whistles the highlight. Point out the benefits—not the feature.

“Try to paint them a picture,” Stevenson says. “Bring people on a real benefits-driven tour where they understand a crystal-clear image of how it improves their life and fits their needs.”

“The days of [showcasing] state-of-the-art or cutting edge [equipment] are kind of over. You can get a Peloton bike in your basement.”

Chris Stevenson, Owner

Stevenson Fitness, Oak Parks, CA

Stevenson shared more of his proven sales strategies during his IHRSA 2018 session, “Solution-based Selling: Making Sales Easy by Uncovering People’s Needs.”

“I want to get people really thinking about how we can approach this differently, build a relationship, really understand the goal, and provide the best solution,” he says. “The beauty of this approach is the best solution might be to buy a membership, but it might be that they need to get involved in small group training or one-on-one training. You can recommend what’s best and, oftentimes, that’s selling even more.”

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Marianne Aiello

Marianne Aiello is the Senior Digital Content Manager for IHRSA. While her average day includes writing articles, monitoring social media, and crafting IHRSA’s digital strategy, the best part of her job is covering IHRSA events across the globe. When she’s not at work, you’ll find Marianne at an indoor cycling class or, more likely, binging on Netflix.