What Every Personal Trainer Needs to Know About Sales

Personal training is a large—and growing—source of revenue for many health clubs. But are your personal trainers willing and able to play a successful role in the sales process?

According to the 2015 IHRSA Profiles of Success, a median of 10% of total revenues at leading health clubs comes from individual and small-group personal training. From 2013 to 2014, member participation in at least one personal training session increased by 11%.

Clearly, the ability to sell personal training services is critical to the long-term success of your operation(s). And that means making sure your personal trainers are comfortable with and knowledgeable about sales.

Personal Training Man Woman Treadmill Column

It Takes a Team

Building a robust personal training program is a team effort, and health club operators need to educate their employees on their particular role in the process.

As Steve Satin, president and founder of Satin Wellness, notes, the focus of the front desk and membership teams is generating new memberships. So they may be concerned that bringing up personal training with prospective or new members comes across as overselling.

The solution? Understanding the right way to approach the sales conversation.

"The front desk team is a great place to ask appropriate questions, [and] the membership team can easily provide the option of personal training to an enthusiastic new member," Satin said at IHRSA 2016.

“The personal training team can absolutely sell once they learn an approach that is focused on the best interest of the member.”

Steve Satin, President and Founder

Satin Wellness

'Sales' Isn't a Dirty Word

At first, personal trainers may have concerns about pushing their services. After all, they chose their profession because they enjoy helping people, not selling.

"The biggest [barrier] is that personal trainers think of 'sales' as a dirty word," said Michele Melkerson-Granryd, general manager for BB Fitness Studios in Austin, TX.

Overcoming this barrier requires changing the personal trainer's mindset. For instance, you can stress that sales doesn't mean approaching members in the middle of their workout, which can be awkward. The topic can be broached more organically, such as when already engaged in a conversation with a member in the lobby.

Another tip: framing personal training services not as a blatant upsell, but as something that will help the member achieve his or her fitness goals.

"The personal training team can absolutely sell once they learn an approach that is focused on the best interest of the member," Satin said.

One Quarter at a Time

Luke Carlson, CEO of Discover Strength in Chanhassen, MN, has quarterly meetings with club managers and personal trainers to ensure everyone is working together toward important strategic goals. As an outcome of these meetings, trainers leave with clearly defined objectives, such as recruiting members to join a particular personal training program.

"We look at what the whole department and club needs to accomplish and just assign those quarterly objectives to each trainer," Carlson said. "By doing that, strategic goals become very bite-sized."

So while some personal trainers may not think of themselves as salespeople, they do have the potential to contribute in this role. If you can cultivate the right mindset and skills, your efforts will pay off in an improved bottom line.

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This article was a team effort by several IHRSA experts.