By Eric Bach, CSCS is a personal trainer, author, and fitness business coach in Denver, Colorado. Eric’s passion is on simplifying the process of building an online fitness business and helping trainers overcome information overload to a build a successful fitness brand. For free marketing, sales, and content tips join the Bach Performance Hybrid Fitness Business Community here.
Online personal trainers don’t close sales for one reason:
They can’t find out what truly motivates their clients. They often self-destruct before even having a chance to convert prospects into clients.
Be honest. Does the scenario that follows sound familiar, even a little bit?
It’s 10:28 AM. Steve, a prospective candidate for your online coaching program, is on the line. But he is strangely silent.
Uh-Oh. You know this is worse than a Nicholas Cage movie. After all, you’ve gotten this far.
Twenty minutes into a call that seemed to be going well, you’ve used your sale script and covered benefits of online coaching.
And you’ve smoothly segued into your pitch. Now, you’re waiting for Steve to reply.
And….nothing. Nada. Crickets.
The silence is deafening. And it’s killing you. You hope against hope Steve is about to say:
“Hell yes, let’s do this!”
But it doesn’t happen. Instead, there’s more silence. Then Steve finally murmurs:
“That’s expensive, coach. I can’t afford it.”
Shit. It’s happened again. It seems like “your coaching is too expensive” is the default answer on most of your sales pitches.
So you try again. You rehash for Steve all the benefits of your program:
* It’s convenient.
* You’ll provide expert programming and nutritional guidance.
* You’ll keep Steve accountable and will even do a phone call once per month.
But Steve still doesn’t see the value.
But since something is better than nothing, you get nervous and blurt out:
”Well, you seem like an excellent guy and I want to help you. How about I hook you up with my “family and friends” discount and take $50 off per month. Are you ready to get started?”
Jeez, what the hell is Steve’s problem?
As you’re pondering why Steve even agreed to the call in the first place, he breaks the silence to say:
“I need to talk to my wife. Can I get back to you tomorrow?”
You reluctantly say yes. What else CAN you say? But you know from bitter experience exactly how this is going to end: in failure.
Tomorrow will never come. Steve will never become a client. He won’t contact you tomorrow and you will have to chase him for days or weeks before extracting the “no.”
What went wrong? You have a good program, your clients get life-changing results, and Steve needed your help. Still, you couldn’t close the deal.
Here’s the problem. You suffer from the dread disease: GGS (Good Guy Syndrome. ) Like a lot of trainers you respect, you are an excellent coach. You love your work, and you’re good at it. You help change lives.
But you suck at sales. Your skin crawls at the idea of a phone sale. So you fail to make the impact or money you deserve.
The Solution: Find The Pain Point
Face it. You’re running a business. Like any other businessperson, your number one goal is to solve a particular pain point or problem faster than the competition.
Why aren’t you doing better as an online coach?
You are failing to identify the emotion and reasoning behind your prospective clients’ pain point. At the end of the day, you need to sell solutions to a problem, not the features of your program.
It’s something we work on with our business coaching clients like Stesha Gulick.
“I signed ten paying clients within weeks of hiring Daniel and Eric. I cannot recommend their mentorship enough.
My business has changed forever. And they can do the same for you.”
– Stesha Gulick
What NOT To Do
Let’s use a hypothetical conversation as our working example. After breaking the ice and chatting about a prospective client’s injury and health history you ask the key question:
“What prompted you to reach out to me today?”
This is a bit like what smart emergency room doctors do. There is tons of stuff they could ask. They already have some information from a triage nurse or notes, but a great opening question is:
“Why did you come to the emergency room today?”
Getting back to the online personal trainer and our friend Steve, the dialogue might go something like this:
“I’ve been reading your blog for a few months and like your approach to fitness and nutrition. I’ve been at a plateau for two months. I’ve stopped losing fat, my clothes don’t fit well, and I’m not getting stronger. Honestly, I’m frustrated and can’t figure it out for myself. You seem to have the solution.”
Typical trainer suffering from GGS:
“Thank you, Steve, I appreciate that! I can definitely help you lose fat and get stronger. How much fat do you want to lose, and how quickly?
“I haven’t thought about that. I’ll stop when I look good enough, ya know?
Typical Trainer suffering from GGS:
“I hear you. Let me tell you about my program….”
What’s wrong with this? A lot! So much that you have almost certainly slammed your face into a brick wall.
First, you’ve accepted unclear goals.
Second, you’re jumping into a sales pitch without finding the true motivator behind your client’s contact.
What To Do Instead
Notice the bolded parts of the conversation. This is vital information and your telling you their exact problem in their words. Use it.
“I’ve been reading your blog for a few months and like your approach to fitness and nutrition. I’ve been at a plateau for two months. I’ve stopped losing fat and getting stronger. Honestly, I’m frustrated and can’t figure it out for myself. You seem to have the solution.”
“Thank you, Steve, I appreciate that! I can definitely help you lose fat and get stronger. But, we need to dig deeper into this. Why do you want to lose fat and get stronger?”
“Hmm. Well, I want to feel healthier get rid of stomach fat for a spring trip to Mexico. I haven’t been able to lose fat. It’s so frustrating!”
You: “I’m sorry to hear you’re having a tough time losing fat, Steve. Why does it bother you that you haven’t gotten rid of stomach fat…despite training four or five days per week…as I see in your form.”
“To be honest, I feel like I can’t win. No matter what I do in the gym, I’m not seeing results. I’m wasting time, I’m losing confidence and as I continue to add weight, my wife seems disinterested in me. “
Analysis and Takeaway
Notice the difference between the first and second examples. In the first example, the trainer accepted “getting stronger and losing fat” as clear-cut motivation.
But the motivation required to make a real transformation, adopt healthy habits, and get great results needs more probing.
In the second example, you dug deeper.
By asking “why” multiple times throughout the call you learned Steve’s goal wasn’t really looking better.
He might have said something like:
“I’m wasting time, I’m losing confidence and as I continue to add weight, my wife seems disinterested in me.”
Remember a goal, especially those related to body composition, is never truly about a result or look.
It’s not about six pack abs.
Or a round booty.
Or bigger arms.
Instead, the results are about how six-pack abs, a round booty, or bigger arms make your client feel.
It’s about emotion and solving a problem, not an exact look.
More often than not, prospective clients want to feel confident, valued/loved, sexy, and capable of handling their bodies.
There is always a deeper pain your clients are battling and it’s up to you to find it.
Without finding your clients pain or problem and outlining a solution, you’ll never close sales.
Sales aren’t natural.
Especially for someone like you. You are more likely to have studied kinesiology than business in college.
So for trainers sales are as natural as Tom Brady and Roger Goodell enjoying a friendly boxing match.
Trainers are so passionate about helping people that they spend all their time honing their coaching skills.
But many neglect developing business skills. Some even think that’s a virtue.
Wrong. To help the most clients, make more money, and build a long-term sustainable business, you need to learn sales.
And learning sales involves finding out what deep issue is causing prospective clients pain. And then you need to offer a solution.
In each sales situation, you must take two actions to uncover the true motivation.
1. Ask your prospective clients their goals. Follow their response with at least two “why?” questions. This helps your prospects look deep and ask, “why is this important, and what do I need to do to solve it?”
2. Mirror the words and tone of your clients. When your clients tell you their problem they’re giving you the exact language you need to use to meet do what is most important….
Meet Your Prospective Clients Where They Are
Think about it. If a client says:
“ I want to lose belly fat and look better in my clothes” you wouldn’t reply with: “We’ll maximize fatty-acid mobilization and get you ready for a photo-shoot.”
That’s like skipping training wheels and putting your five-year-old on a scooter.
Using your client’s language and showing them how to fix their problems is the best way to become more relatable and friendly. You’ll position yourself as the person who can solve their problems.
No one will know how much you know until they know that you care. Caring, and meeting your clients at their level is the driving force behind success training sales.
Walking the Ethical Line
The biggest problem is that so many trainers think sales are inherently “dirty.” It doesn’t have to be that way. You may need to change the way you think.
Sales are not a way to “trick” clients into buying your service. Instead, think of the sales process as a way of finding what’s truly causing the pain and outlining how you can help.
By NOT digging deeper, you’re doing your clients a disservice by NOT showing them how important it is for them change.
So mastering sales is essential to mastering your craft as a trainer.
Clients often come in with unclear goals. No wonder they struggle to buy in to any change.
So they mistakenly focus on external goals rather than the internal, psychophysical changes that can take place.
Believe in your value.
Learn to communicate it to your clients with confidence.
Uncover your clients’ root problems and frame your sales pitches around your ability to solve them.
This comes down to…
1. Asking “why” their goal is important at least twice. Only then will you reach their true motivators and get them to buy in.
2. Mirroring your prospective clients’ language and meet them where they are.
“You don’t simply close a sale, you open a relationship to build a long-term, successful enterprise.”
– Patricia Fripp
You’ll find out much more about all this is our business coaching mentorship.