Monday, July 11, 2011

Sales Does Not Have To Be An Ugly Word

At IFAST, we are getting ready to expand, which is very exciting.  We have outgrown our space and are moving into a new facility that will have twice the size.  We are very pleased with this growth, but we are continually trying to improve our processes and systems to grow even more. 
We recently had Pat Rigbsy (a fitness business guru) in to talk to the staff about sales because this is a very important part of the fitness business system and an important thing to learn about to get more clients in the door.  This was a great learning experience as Pat always has great things to say, and it is always very practical information. 
I think I have said this before, but selling is not my favorite thing.  Whenever I think of this term, I imagine a salesman going on and on about this or that product and how perfect it would be for me.  However, one of the things Pat made clear was that selling does not have to be like this at all.  In fact, during his talk (which lasted close to 2 hours) he did not mention one thing about a fancy sales pitch.  He emphasized that the best way to sell people a product in the fitness industry is to show them how much you care - make them feel like they are part of a community in your gym.  This way they will not want to leave.

Pat says that you should get to know everything you can about your client - favorite music, movie, food, hobby, etc.  Your goal should be to make them feel so welcome that they almost feel guilty to leave your gym or business.  I do want to point out that you MUST BE GENUINE in these efforts.  If you are in the business to help people then you must legitimately care - your clients will be able to tell if you don’t.  I am not sure who said it or if this is exactly how the quote goes, but it is so true - “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care”. 
Therefore, when a client first comes to your gym find out as much as you can about him or her and the goals he or she wants to achieve.  And when I say find out their goals, I really want you to find out the deep, psychological reasons why they want to achieve the goals that they have.  The staff at Precision Nutrition, a great resource for nutrition information, uses something called the 5 Whys.  Basically, when someone tells you a goal, you ask why they want to achieve this.  When they tell you why, ask them why to that answer.  Continue repeating this five times, and most likely, you will find the MAIN reason as to why they want to achieve their goal.  
For example,
Client: “I want to lose weight.”
You: “Why?”
Client: “Because I want to look good at my high school reunion.”
You: “Why?”
Client: “Because I was picked on in high school for being overweight.”
and so on…
You get the idea.  This little strategy is very beneficial in helping you relate to your clients. 
Another thing I really liked that Pat said is that your programming will not change because of what clients tell you about their goals (it may a little, but their assessment will largely determine it), but the way you explain stuff to them and “sell” your ideas will change.  For example, if you are having a client whose goal is to lose fat perform a plank, they may ask you why.  Since you know their goal is fat loss you can explain to them that you are working to improve their stability, which will help them use more weight on big exercises.  More weight=more caloric burn!  Always relate what you are doing back to the goal (love this idea!).

Lastly, I want to share two tips that Pat gave us for clients going through our trial period (a period of time where someone can try out the gym for a reduced price).  The first is that you never know which day will be a client's "tipping day".  Even one day in the gym for a client can break the chances of him or her continuing on in your gym.  Therefore, you always have to bring your best!  
The second tip is to magnify any progress a client makes.  This tip is especially important for fat loss clients because many of them will be so focused on the scale.  Therefore, if they are improving on an exercise and are ready to progress to a more advanced variation, then make them aware of this success and how it will lead them to their goal more quickly.  Losing pounds on the scale can be a slow process for some, therefore, if you can point out other ways these people are improving, they are more likely to continue working with you and feel better about themselves.   
To end this post, I want to emphasize that I am not trying to share little dirty tips and tricks to get more people to become and stay members.  I hope that you will give all of your clients the same treatment and care throughout their membership as you did in the beginning of it.  And remember, you must truly care to be successful in the customer service business!

I would like to say thanks a ton to Pat Rigsby for sharing all of this great information and for being a great resource!!!  You can check out Pat's site at
Have a great week everyone!!


  1. Hi Zach. Thanks for sharing this information. Pat's advice rings true for me, however it seems to relate more to keeping clients. How does Pat recommend getting clients? What are you learning in your experience that can help other strength coaches get clients to take the leap, commit to training and pay the cost? Thanks! Mike from Seattle.

  2. Hi Mike,

    To be honest, I do not have a real good answer for you. I am lucky in that Mike Robertson does a lot of the marketing for our gym (IFAST). Also, most of our clients come from referrals. Therefore, I think just pleasing your clients with results, atmosphere, and care will help you attract more people. If your clients enjoy working with you then they will let other people know. Word of mouth is very powerful! Good luck!