3 Reasons you don't Love Selling Personal Training
A pre article note from Kevin:
If you would have told me a few years ago that I'd allow my personal website to lie dormant for nearly a year and a half, then I would have told you that you were crazy. This site, and more specifically, this blog, was home to my genuine desire to improve the industry and world with my words. I'd like to think that I'd never let this slide, but...
Life happens, jobs changed, and personal events occurred. I'm now in Miami, single, and embarking on a journey that doesn't keep me in the gym from dawn till dusk. (More on this in coming articles and blogs).
But I'm back!
And not only am I back in the sense that I'm clearly putting words on your screen...but I'll be better than ever. My mission has only refined. I'm in this industry, and on this planet, to use my joy, humor, and intelligence to help others.
I'm here to help trainers figure out how to build a career, build a brand, and change lives.
I'm here to serve my clients, both online and in-person, with the best training methods that keep them pain-free and healthy.
Lastly, I'm here to serve the industry and the world by constantly calling bullshit on things that shouldn't be, and doing whatever I can to move the ball in the positive direction.
So, with all that said - I hope you missed me. I'm going to be around a lot more these days. Let's get to the article!
Sales in Personal Training doesn't have to be hard, but no one said it would be easy...
The training industry is full of professionals who are passionate about their work. They love the science, and they love the people. Somewhere between squat stances and motivational interviewing - a trainer has found their home. All around the world, people's lives are being improved dramatically because they chose to work with a personal trainer. Even the least experienced, least knowledgeable trainer is helping someone (assuming they have a good heart, of course).
As a result, much of this industry is so focused on the altruism of doing good work and serving their clients that they've turned a blind eye to the necessary business and sales acumen necessary to have a sustainable brand and career.
Trainers will read 3 articles on program design (I know, because I've written a bunch), attend a conference lecture that speaks about new findings in nutrition (I know, because I've sat through many), and will have enough caffeine to kill a horse before their 6am sessions so that they can be energetic for their client (I know, because I've had too much caffeine in my life).
Sales, business, and marketing practices take a backseat...if they make it into the car at all. In a profession that requires sales to serve, most trainers are woefully unprepared to convert prospects into paying clients.
Oh, and when trainers finally seek out this type of information?
It's usually about monetizing social media, how to attract more "followers", or how to build funnels for an online business. (All useful information, of course, but it is more akin to the fruit of a tree than it is the tree itself).
And when trainers finally read up on sales principles?
They tend to find information that is all about brute force methods...
Stupid shit like "pain points" and "guilt-trapping".
Dumb ideas like "pressure builds diamonds"
Mostly needless noise that only hurts the integrity of the trainer who took it in.
Enough is enough. Below are the ONLY 3 Sales Lessons you'll need to convert clients, build a reputation that speaks volumes about your character, and secure yourself a more financially stable living.
1. Stop Bringing "your Wallet" to the Discussion
Let's call it what it is. In nearly all situations, the training client has more disposable income than the trainer. To be clear, there are situations where this isn't the case, but in my experience - the clients tend to make more from their work than the trainer does from their own.
This is especially true in the high-end health club and private gym space. With session prices that range from $120.00 to $200.00 a session - there is a certain "type" of clientele that is capable of paying such rates.
And it's this reality that many trainers, especially younger, less-experienced individuals new to the high-end market, struggle with. Put simply, many trainers are uncomfortable charging session rates that they themselves could not afford.
It creates a moment of imposter syndrome by making the trainer question their worth. Questions like "am I really worth this rate?" or "Can people actually afford this?" begin creeping to the front of the trainer's mind, which begins to erode the confidence and conviction a trainer would have otherwise.
It all starts with understanding what money is...
Money is simply a means of trading for goods and services. Long evolved from trading goats for chickens, we now trade money for what we want.
That's all it is.
Put simply, many trainers are uncomfortable charging session rates that they themselves could not afford.
Some people have more "trade" capacity. Some people have less. Regardless of this distribution, it doesn't change the VALUE of the goods or services that are traded for. If a car is truly worth 50 thousand dollars, then it will sell when the right consumer arrives.
The same goes with training. If you provide a service that is worth the rate you charge (even better if you OVER-DELIVER), then you'll have no problem selling the service from a purely economical (logical) stand point. The only hurdle that would keep the sale from happening is you, the trainer, and your emotional relationship with money and your own financial situation.
Thus, any BUSY trainer knows that they can't have an opinion about the cost. The cost is the cost. It is set by regionality, inflation, interest rates, competing businesses, and the vision of the leadership team that sets the price. It has to cover the cost of the trainer's cut, the manager, and possibly some aspects of the business overhead.
And so, the most important tip for any personal trainer is to realize that their wallet, and their opinion about money, can not be in their mind as they meet leads, deliver sessions, and attempt to covert paying clients.
WOW the client and let them decide what is, and what isn't, expensive.
2. You are Selling the Wrong Product
The next critical mistake that most trainers make is the misidentification of the "product" being sold.
Most fitness professionals treat the sales process as an opportunity to sell themselves, their certifications and experience, their personal accomplishments, and their personality. Many statements include classic "I" and "me" and put the entire focus on the trainer - instead of the client.
Additionally, there are many coaches, especially those with more educational pedigree, that think they are selling the training program itself. It's all about the periodization, the scheme, the block methods, the specialized equipment and tools. It's all about "the systems" and "following the roadmap" instead of putting the focus on the client's unique JOURNEY.
The fitness professionals who succeed with sales consistently know the following truth:
THE PRODUCT is the CLIENT.
THE SERVER is YOU.
THE SERVICE is the PROGRAM.
What this means is this:
Your primary "sale" must be to sell the client on themselves. This isn't the first time they've tried to lose weight, gain muscle, get stronger, etc. This is probably not their first gym membership, and you are probably not the first personal trainer they have met. They have memories of failing in the past...
You have to sell clients on the belief that THEY CAN SUCCEED. This is the time they overcome the barriers that have kept them down. This is the training scenario that empowers them and works with their life instead of against it.
The client has to genuinely believe that the product (i.e. themselves) will be worth the financial and time commitment. That belief doesn't come from the certifications you've taken, or the amount you can deadlift, or how many followers you have on social media.
It comes from investing your time into learning WHAT a client cares about, WHY they care about it, WHEN they started caring, HOW they expect things to go, and WHERE they want to be in 30/60/90/365 days.
Most clients assume YOU (the server) and the PROGRAM (the service) are going to be good enough. You are employed for a reason...
And so you need to focus your efforts on connecting authentically and selling the client on their own future.
3. You Haven't Connected
The final mistake that most trainers make when selling personal training packages is an extension of the previous point...
Trainers spend too much time trying to crush people's souls during workouts. Too much time trying to WOW clients with intricate set ups, crazy lifts, novel exercises, and the program itself.
While the client is paying for a professional service that is better and different than what they'd do for themselves - they are also looking to pay for an experience. They are looking to pay for someone they like. Clients want to connect with the PERSON who is the personal trainer. The trainer should want to connect with the PERSON who is paying for training.
Connection is as simple as classic rapport about sports, the news, common threads, fashion, pop culture, gym culture, etc.
And it's also as complex as exploring client's traumas and listening intently when they talk about their families, their friends, and their jobs. It's about learning about the PERSON who walks through life...the thoughts, fears, hopes, and dreams.
It isn't easy. But it's necessary.
Connection can't be faked. It is felt. REAL connection overcomes objections on its own.
Spend more time learning about the person who might hire you (a THEM focus) instead of worrying as much about why they might hire you (a YOU focus).
Sales doesn't have to be hard. It isn't going to be easy. Yet, leaving your personal relationship with money on the sideline, selling the client on themselves, and connecting with the REAL person can simplify the process, enhance your confidence, and lead to results.
I want you to succeed. I want you to be busy. I want more trainers being able to pay their bills, buy their vacations, and live their best lives. The world needs more people who work to improve others. The world needs more love and effort.
Follow these tips and convert your clients....
And keep your eye out for my next book, "Sales to Serve".